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Casper Student Named UW’s Top Graduating Man

April 25, 2014
Man smiling
Patrick Rodgers of Casper received the 2014 Tobin Memorial Award as the University of Wyoming's outstanding graduating man. (UW Photo)

Patrick Rodgers’ passion for wildlife and wild places, and his desire to be a leader in whatever challenges he takes on, have contributed to his selection as the recipient of the 2014 Tobin Memorial Award as the University of Wyoming's outstanding graduating man.

The annual award is based on academic excellence and achievement, service to the university, participation and leadership in the community and campus activities, and citizenship qualities. Rodgers, the son of Connie and Neil Rodgers of Casper, is a zoology major in UW’s Honors Program with a minor in environment and natural resources.

He not only collected several academic honors during his time at UW, but he also was a four-year student-athlete and a three-time Academic All-America selection with the UW men’s Nordic ski team -- all the while being a leader in a number of scholastic and community activities.

Melanie Vigil of Lander is this year’s Rosemarie Martha Spitaleri Award recipient as UW's outstanding graduating women.

“He is intelligent, diligent, passionate yet pragmatic, organized, undeterred, poised, mature and with unprecedented integrity,” says Rachel Watson, an instructor of microbiology and biochemistry who was Rodgers’ ski coach every year he competed. “I have worked with many special athletes and, with respect to tenacity, Pat is unsurpassed.”

Watson marvels at the growth of Rodgers’ leadership skills, starting when he was the team’s underclass representative and progressing to team captain.

“He has helped to organize and plan a large portion of the team's fundraising events,” Watson says. “With the same dedication he shows to ski training, Pat participated in and helped to organize fundraisers such as the football parking, leaf raking, dinners and raffles.”

Joel Pontius, who taught Rodgers in an Honors Program seminar, says he was immediately impressed with his commitment to protect wild lands and the integrity of Wyoming ecosystems. 

“Academically, socially and as a contributor to the university through participation in collegiate athletics, Patrick is a powerful role model of scholarship, achievement, and a catalyst for community health and wildland conservation,” Pontius says.

Courtney Carlson, assistant director of academic programs with the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, noted Rodgers’ passion when he led an outing to the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

“He helped the lead instructor maintain curricular rigor by adjusting lessons to suit the students'  backgrounds and experiences; he hiked and paddled through Grand Teton National Park; demonstrated radio telemetry; and ferried students to stakeholder meetings with policy-makers, managers, planners, scientists and interested citizens. He was more reliable than I could have expected him to be.”

His passion for the wild has been a prominent part of Rodgers’ scholarly and leadership roles. He was a student mentor for the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources; was a Wyoming Chapter of the Wildlife Society fellow in 2013; is a current member of the UW student chapter of the Wyoming Wildlife Society, which has included highway cleanup projects and various volunteer activities; and contributes volunteer work in one of the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit research labs.

St. Paul's Newman Center has been a major part of Rodgers’ life in Laramie. He has led community service groups, retreats and prayer groups -- including the Catholics on Campus leadership team, where he organized and presented for weekly on-campus events.

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