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Cheyenne Student Named UW’s Top Graduating Man

May 1, 2015
head portrait of man
Joshua Messer of Cheyenne received the 2015 Tobin Memorial Award as the University of Wyoming's outstanding graduating man.

Excellence as a University of Wyoming honors student in molecular biology and chemistry, service as a student senator and in other leadership roles, and work as a mentor to other students have resulted in the selection of Joshua Messer for the 2015 Tobin Memorial Award as UW'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. Messer, son of Jim and Shelley Messer of Cheyenne, is a double major in molecular biology and chemistry with a minor in the Honors Program.

Callie Berman of Boulder, Colo., is this year’s Rosemarie Martha Spitaleri Award recipient as UW's outstanding graduating woman.

“With sparkling intelligence, charming wit and a creative, curious mind that simply never stops, Josh is a student who inspires and galvanizes all those who are fortunate to cross his path,” says Rachel Watson, instructor of microbiology and biochemistry in the Department of Molecular Biology. “I could not name another student who earns a GPA equivalent to Josh’s while changing the lives of students campuswide through his leadership. He eloquently balances the most rigorous academic pursuits with campus involvement that is unprecedented.”

Messer has served four terms as a student senator representing the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, including chairing a number of Associated Students of UW (ASUW) committees. He also is president of the Mortar Board senior honor society and a student ambassador for his college.

“Josh is one of our best students,” says Anne Leonard, director of college relations for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “He is an excellent scholar, a leader, and someone who UW can point to with pride.”

Messer has worked for four semesters as a teaching assistant in microbiology. He’s also a research assistant in the Department of Chemistry.

“Because he is so approachable, students feel comfortable asking him for help -- and they get it,” Leonard says. “His helpful attitude is certainly one of his strengths. He wants others to succeed and is willing to help them achieve success.”

During summer 2013, Messer served as an intern for U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., in the nation’s capital. During summer 2014, he joined a team of researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, where he investigated the link between the human papillomavirus and cancer.

“Mr. Messer’s genuine commitment to the University of Wyoming and his education demonstrates that he has the capacity to make significant contributions to all of his future endeavors,” says Kristy Isaak, ASUW accountant and adviser. “I believe that Josh has demonstrated his zest for leadership and academics during his time at UW.”

“I won’t be on this campus or this world forever, and so I delight in seeing others called to action by something I’ve done,” Messer says. “It brings me great comfort to know that where I leave off, someone new will take up the mantle of leadership.”

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