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Cheyenne Student Named UW’s Outstanding Graduating Woman

April 29, 2016
head portrait of woman
Kimberly Sanchez

Kimberly Sanchez, of Cheyenne, who graduated with dual majors in anthropology and Russian, and a minor in the Honors Program, is the recipient of the Rosemarie Martha Spitaleri Award as the University of Wyoming's outstanding graduating woman.

Sanchez, who graduated in four and a half years in fall 2015 with a 3.8 grade-point average, was on UW honor rolls each semester.

The award, established in 1964, recognizes Sanchez for exhibiting the finest leadership, academic integrity and citizenship qualities. Vikram Singh, from Bangalore, India, received the Tobin Award, honoring the outstanding graduating man.

“It would be an overstatement to say that I was thrilled about coming to the University of Wyoming after graduating high school. I, like so many other small-town kids, longed to go to a big school on the East Coast, away from my family,” Sanchez says. “However, my time spent at UW turned out to be a wonderful and transformative experience that I did, and always will, cherish.”

Since coming to UW, Sanchez has proven herself to be an outstanding student. The list of her academic honors and scholarships “demonstrates consistent and indeed accelerating academic and research ability. She has gone beyond classroom work by seizing every opportunity available to an undergraduate for research training and international experience,” says UW Department of Anthropology Professor Lin Poyer, who nominated Sanchez for the award.

Those achievements include being selected as a McNair Scholar, a prestigious research-focused internship opportunity for students planning a Ph.D.-level career. In addition to her stellar academic work, Sanchez is active in multicultural and other volunteer activities on campus, demonstrating not only her leadership and teamwork skills, but also her practical ability to handle multiple responsibilities, and her constant self-reflection as she strives to achieve her own career goals while giving back to the community, Poyer adds.

Sanchez worked with anthropology Professor Todd Surovell on her first research project and, in fall 2014, she expanded her research and spent the semester in Khankh, Mongolia. There, she taught English to K-12 students and worked on her second research project.

One main focus of the McNair Scholars Program is preparing students -- through intensive undergraduate research -- for acceptance into Ph.D. programs. Based on Sanchez’s work as a McNair Scholar, she was accepted into various doctoral programs at the University of Cambridge, University of Georgia and the University of Michigan (UM). She will attend UM in the fall, and her doctorate will be fully funded.

“I can’t express how much joy these pursuits brought me over the years I spent at UW,” Sanchez says. “I learned valuable skills that I will be taking with me to graduate school and discovered that I could help make positive changes in my community and even the world, even if they are fairly small.”

Sanchez has immersed herself at UW, serving as a GEAR UP peer mentor; an AmeriCorps volunteer; a College of Arts and Sciences student ambassador and Central Committee undergraduate representative; a member of the annual Shepard Symposium on Social Justice and Martin Luther King Jr. Days of Dialogue planning committees; and various multicultural organization roles.

“She is a remarkable young woman who has shown exceptional academic achievement, commitment to leadership and service to the campus community,” says Chicory Bechtel, who served as Sanchez’s secondary academic adviser through Multicultural Affairs during her entire UW experience. “As such, Kimberly is truly one of our outstanding graduating women at UW.”

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