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UWyo Magazine|January 2014 | Vol. 15 No. 2

The Magazine for Alumni and Friends of the University of Wyoming

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University of Wyoming
Dept. 3226
1000 East University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071-2000
Phone: 307-766-2379
TTY: 307-766-6729

Path to a New Future

Erin Anders, a single mother and returning student, discovered a passion and new career path at UW.

By Micaela Myers

“The challenges of life did not hinder my road to an undergraduate degree; rather, they guided my unorthodox path,” University of Wyoming student Erin Anders wrote in her graduate school application. Those challenges included a husband sent overseas to serve after 9/11, divorce and being a single mother, but UW helped her discover a new path filled with passion and promise. “Life’s too short not to do what you love. I guess that’s what I’ve learned all these years,” she says.

Anders, who previously owned a hair salon, graduates from UW in December 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in agroecology and double minors in soil science and anthropology. Along the way, she received grants, fellowships and scholarships from organizations including the McNair Scholars Program, the Paul Stock Foundation, The Bernard Osher Foundation, Dick and Lynne Cheney, and the Boyd Scholarship. Below, Anders shares the role UW played in helping her find this new direction.

A life-changing opportunity: “The biggest highlight of my time at UW was going to Kenya for my research. It has changed my life.” Anders is completing an 18-month McNair project working with Kenyan farmers to mitigate the removal of crop residue, helping them achieve long-term sustainability.

Help along the way: “Without the scholarships, I probably would have had to go down to part time and take out more student loans.” Anders cites the Osher Reentry Scholarship as especially meaningful, as it recognizes the challenges nontraditional students face. “For me, I think it’s really special to have a scholarship for people who have left school and come back.”

The UW difference: “I have some great relationships with professors here. They connect with the students. My adviser, Urszula Norton—if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be where I am. She saw something in me. Even in my challenges, she’s right there.”

What lies ahead: Anders starts her Ph.D. in crop and soil science at Michigan State University in January, but she found her future calling during her senior year at UW. “I had the opportunity to teach a lab, and I surprised myself how much I loved it. I would love to be a professor at a university in the United States and continue doing research with subsistence farmers.”

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Erin Anders
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