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Next Generation

April 19, 2018
man with free weights
Kyle Benefield at Laramie Fitness

As a first-generation college student, Kyle Benefield found UW a welcoming environment. 

By Micaela Myers 

First-generation college students—those whose parents did not graduate from college—often face a myriad of challenges. Obstacles can include a lack of support or guidance, as well as lower overall household income.

“There have been some challenges because neither of my parents graduated from high school either,” says freshmen Kyle Benefield, a zoology major who moved from Alabama to Wyoming at age 7, eventually settling in Medicine Bow. “There wasn’t a very high expectation for me or any of my siblings to go to college. There wasn’t a big push to do so. With that being the case, it was upon myself to make that decision and really go for it.”

Benefield didn’t attend college right away. He bounced from job to job for a few years, which showed him the need to find a meaningful career.

“UW was definitely my top choice,” Benefield says. Here, he was invited to join the Fall Bridge program (formerly Synergy), a learning community for first-year students that includes experienced instructors, small class sizes, increased support and priority enrollment.

“Being in the Bridge program helped ease me into the college lifestyle,” Benefield says.

“UW is such a close-knit community. It’s really easy to make friends,” he adds.

While attending school, Benefield works full time at Laramie Fitness and competes in powerlifting. “There have been a lot of tragedies in my life, which are kind of the driving force toward me wanting to compete,” he says. “I find a lot of meaning in it as well.”

Benefield plans to study abroad during his time at UW, and after graduation he hopes to work with endangered species.

To students considering UW, he offers the encouragement he didn’t receive while in high school: “College is probably the most important decision you’ll ever make. You can always find jobs out of high school, but in terms of finding something that’s going to mean a lot to you and help support you and your family, college is probably the best choice for you. That’s the best decision anyone can make right out of high school.”

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