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Saturday University Scheduled for High School Students in Casper

April 7, 2015
Head portraits of two men and one woman
Kent Drummond, Jonathan Prather and Arielle Zibrak

Area high school students have the opportunity to attend three lectures by some of the top University of Wyoming professors during a special Saturday University -- UW’s popular, free, one-day college education program -- Saturday, April 11, in Casper.

High school students can get an early look what it’s like to be a college student attending a lecture and discussion. The program is from 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at UW-Casper on the fourth floor of the Student Center at Casper College.

Students also have the opportunity to connect with current UW students, have lunch and meet with UW admissions personnel.

UW’s 1,400 faculty members and 13,600 students explore exciting topics every day during the school year. Through Saturday U, high school students will experience a day as a college student and explore interesting topics.

In its seventh year, Saturday U is a collaborative program that connects popular UW professors with lifelong learners. It is offered six times a year -- twice each in Jackson, Gillette and Sheridan. Saturday U is sponsored by the university, the UW Foundation and Wyoming Humanities Council, and is presented locally by area sponsors.

This is the first time Saturday U will be offered just for high school students.

Check-in starts at 9:30 a.m., with welcome comments set for 10 a.m.

Listed below are program topic descriptions and UW professors lecturing beginning at 10:25 a.m.:

-- “Rock Stars, Writers and Orphans: The Big Business of Changing the World,” Arielle Zibrak, College of Arts and Sciences Department of English assistant professor, UW-Casper.

U2 frontman Bono sells T-shirts and iPods to fight AIDS. Actress Angelina Jolie serves as a goodwill ambassador to the United Nations, while actor Sean Penn gets filmed rescuing victims of Hurricane Katrina. This sort of celebrity involvement is nothing new.

Zibrak will examine how celebrity entertainers get involved in changing the world, beginning with Charles Dickens’ visits to orphanages almost 175 years ago and working up to the present day. Why are celebrities featured by social movements, and what are the pros and cons of “good deeds” as entertainment? Zibrak will discuss those topics.

-- “Marketing Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry: A Tale of Different Divas,” Kent Drummond, College of Business Department of Management and Marketing associate professor.

Both Cyrus and Perry are pop music superstars, but they have taken different paths to the top. That path owes almost as much to strategic marketing as it does to their music and showmanship.

Drummond will examine what it takes to be a successful performer today, analyzing the marketing choices each singer made at the start of her career, and the shifts in strategy as each one underwent changes, public and private, as their careers progressed. What image does each singer project with new songs, videos, and behaviors onstage and off?

“Of course, public reaction is also part of the equation, and neither singer has avoided controversy,” Drummond says.

-- “How the Brain Learns to Communicate and Make Good Decisions: What Studying Songbirds Can Teach Us about Human Behavior,” Jon Prather, UW College of Arts and Sciences Department of Zoology and Physiology assistant professor.

We use our words to communicate with each other every day, and we rely on good decision making to keep us healthy and out of trouble, Prather says.

“In both speech and decision making, specialized circuits in the brain enable us to learn from experience,” he says. “When we take a close look at songbirds, we find that they do the same thing.”

Birds learn their songs just like humans learn the sounds used in speech, and female birds evaluate the quality of male birds’ songs to select their mates. How does the brain do that, and how can we use that insight to better understand ourselves and to improve the human condition? Prather will discuss those topics.

A buffet lunch follows the discussions at 11:55 a.m. A UW student panel will be at 12:10 p.m., followed by UW admissions information at 12:40 p.m. The program concludes at 1 p.m.

For more information, contact Paul Flesher, Saturday U faculty director, at (307) 766-2616 or

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