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Authenticity and Integrity

July 31, 2019
person working in a lab
Pharmacy student Dylan Ren participates in classwork in the Sterile Products Lab. Ren has conducted research in multiple labs during his time at UW.

By Micaela Myers

Third-year pharmacy student Dylan Ren of Laramie believes integrity is key to his chosen profession. “I think the entire medical profession is based on honesty and integrity,” he says. “Patients want you to have that integrity so they can trust decisions you’re making that influence their health.”

As University of Wyoming students look to careers in business, medicine, animal science, counseling and more, they value integrity and staying true to their authentic selves. “Integrity is a big one for me,” says College of Engineering and Applied Science sophomore Cross True of Casper, Wyo., who hopes to use his technical degree as a future entrepreneur. “It’s being the same person when people aren’t there watching.”

“Integrity has always been important to me,” says school counseling master’s student Lucas Grant of Lovell, Wyo. “It’s not something where you can choose when to put on the integrity hat—it’s something that’s a part of you inside and out. It’s a desire to make sure everything is done correctly. Authenticity is also a really big piece of counseling and interacting with people—being authentic with them and with myself.”

For Olivia Cole of Cody, Wyo.—who graduates next year with majors in social science and gender and women’s studies and minors in honors and African American studies—being authentic means growing and changing with new experiences. “Having this authentic self that’s true to you is like playdough,” she says. “You have a bunch of different colors in there. That’s who you should be at the end of all this—not just the same person that you came into college as. I don’t feel that you’ve done college right if you haven’t at least challenged one of your values or things you’re interested in.”

woman saddling a horse
Rodeo team member Nicole Sederstrom keeps up to six horses with her in Laramie during the season.

Home Away From Home

While affordability often is the first draw, most students cite the welcoming community and access to quality professors who care as UW’s greatest strengths.

When Nicole Sederstrom first visited UW as a potential transfer student, she was struck by the friendly atmosphere. “It was so nice to be on a campus that was very warm and welcoming,” says the senior animal science major from Goodland, Kan. “The big strength that UW has is that you can walk down any hall, and any professor is willing to help you succeed. The other thing that sets UW apart is that classes are actually taught by professors.”

Ren says UW’s professors are the “best of the best.”

Grant concurs: “UW does really well focusing on the individual student. All the professors usually get to know all the students by name and are available and able to work with students.”

“I really like my classes and class size,” says Javaun Garcia, a junior from Cheyenne majoring in business management and sociology with a minor in Chinese. He finds there’s always lots to do in Laramie, and everyone looks out for one  another. Not to mention, it’s beautiful: “I think the campus is super pretty, especially in the fall.”

Clarissa Nord of Arvada, Colo., chose UW for its community. After finishing her undergraduate degree in criminal justice, she’s now pursuing a master’s in public administration with an eye toward law school. “I wanted to come to a university that had a lot of pride, and I think UW excels in that regard,” she says. “I think it’s such a nice community to be a part of—everyone is so willing to help each other.”

Cole adds that UW’s study-abroad opportunities can’t be beat, in addition to tremendous opportunities for undergraduate research. “I think it’s really great we promote student and faculty relationships where you can approach faculty about working with them,” she says. “It seems faculty are really excited about that. It’s special we have all these opportunities.”

man in a hammock
Cross True enjoys a break on Prexy’s Pasture.

Embracing Opportunities

At UW, students find endless avenues to pursue their interests and grow their strengths—from NCAA and club sports to more than 200 registered student organizations, plus study abroad, research, student leadership and more.

“I’ve played intramural football and basketball. I’m involved in Students for Life and The Navigators, and I’m also involved in UW’s Army ROTC program,” True says. “They’ve been a great way to meet people and have fun.”

True’s sister Kennedee also attends UW, and together they took part in UW’s London semester—a trip their father took when he was a student at UW.  “We found out that, thanks to the Cheneys (and their Richard B. and Lynne V. Cheney Study-Abroad Scholarship Fund), it was remarkably doable,” he says. “You’ll probably never get the opportunity to travel the world again like you have in college. I think I appreciate the country we live in a lot more because I understand where I came from. You come away more educated outside the bubble we live in.”

Sederstrom competes on UW’s rodeo team in barrel racing, team roping, breakaway roping and goat tying. Taking care of horses plus practices and competitions have taught her great time management, she says: “I love the character building—making myself a better version.”

Despite Sederstrom’s demanding schedule, she also found time for an internship and undergraduate research. Last summer, she served as a scholar of agriculture at Noble Research Institute in Ardmore, Okla. “My favorite thing about the summer was going on the consulting trips and going to meet customers and farmers around the area and learning how to properly help them,” Sederstrom says.

At UW, she conducts undergraduate research in Assistant Professor Corey Tarwater’s lab, where they are looking at songbirds’ role in the disbursement of seeds and plants—an experience Sederstrom believes will give her a leg up in graduate school applications. “It gives me a better understanding of experimental design and how research is done,” she says.

man with city in the background
Javaun Garcia during his semester abroad in Singapore. (Courtesy Photo)

Garcia is involved with the Black Student Alliance, United Multicultural Council and MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan) on campus. He also served as a senator for the Associated Students of UW, chairing the advocacy, diversity and policy committee. This experience helped him become better at organization and communication. “I feel like that will help me in the future, understanding how a business works,” Garcia says.

His freshman year, Garcia took a Service Leadership and Community Engagement Alternative Break trip to Los Angeles to work with the homeless population there. “It was really rewarding,” he says. “It helps you reflect on your own life and makes you humble.” This semester, he’s studying abroad in Singapore.

For the past two years, Nord has worked at UW’s American Heritage Center. “I get to work with researchers from all over the world,” she says. “We have so many really cool collections. It’s a really great experience. I think it’s one of the best jobs on campus.”

As an undergraduate, she played in marching band and the community and symphonic band. Last year, she was able to intern for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Yellowstone National Park. “It was a great real-world experience,” Nord says. “I think the biggest thing I took away from the internship was how to communicate with people.”

Ren is part of the new Health Equity Leadership Program—an exchange program between UW and Howard University in Washington, D.C. Howard students get to tour medical facilities in Wyoming, and UW students get to do the same in D.C., comparing rural to urban. And both sets of students take part in a video conference leadership class. This winter break, Ren also took a History of Medicine faculty-led trip to London, Edinburgh, Paris and Venice.

As president of UW’s chapter of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Ren further develops his leadership and networking skills. The club actively participates in the School of Pharmacy’s annual community health fair and conducts poison awareness presentations in elementary schools, which Ren finds rewarding. They also host presenters.

Ren has conducted research in multiple labs, including an INBRE (IDeA Networks for Biomedical Research Excellence) grant to study diabetes in Professor Sreejayan Nair’s lab for two semesters, an INBRE-sponsored study in Idaho looking at an antidepressant drug, and an ambulatory care internship this past summer in Oregon. “It was nice to be able to apply everything I learned in school,” he says. 

woman talking to group of people
Olivia Cole has mentored fellow students as a resident assistant, UW Bridge employee and Tri Delta sorority member.

In keeping with her goal of challenging herself and pushing her interests, Cole’s list of involvement is extensive, including Alternative Break trips to San Francisco, New Mexico and Trinidad/Tobago; a London semester abroad; a conference in Canada; serving as a resident assistant and UW Bridge employee; and being an active member of Tri Delta sorority, the Honors College and Real Women, Real Bodies. She found her travel to Europe especially life changing. “It was my pivotal moment in my college career,” she says. “I learned so much about who I am and what I value. I want to encourage more people to go and see the world.”

As a result of her semester in London, Cole returned to Europe this winter break with a friend, backpacking through England, Spain, Denmark, Morocco, Greece and Ireland.

As an undergraduate, Grant majored in accounting and participated in Singing Statesmen and the Happy Jacks. But after a year of working as a loan officer, he realized business wasn’t his true calling and returned to UW to pursue counseling.

“I’m interning at Linford Elementary, and I love it,” he says. “I think the counseling program at UW is great. You’re immediately working with real people.”

Grant takes part in Chi Sigma Iota honors society, where he currently serves as school counseling representative for UW’s local Mu Nu Tau Chapter. Grant also serves as the graduate student representative on the board of the Wyoming School Counselor Association. “That’s been meaningful—being able to make an impact in the state where I grew up,” he says.

In addition, he’s very involved in his church. “That’s a big part of who I am,” he says. It also offers him the chance to continue his passion for music and singing.

man with children playing at table in the background
School counseling master’s student Lucas Grant and his sons Connor and Carson use UW’s play therapy room to demonstrate some of the activities that may take place during a session.

Leaders of Tomorrow

Grant hopes to stay in Wyoming and work as a school counselor so he can help the community.

True’s goal is to become a businessman. “I want to own my own business,” he says. “I want to work with some of my siblings and friends. Engineering and having a technical degree and understanding could be really helpful.”

If his first job takes him away from Wyoming, he plans to eventually return. “I love Wyoming, and it’s my home,” True says.

Sederstrom plans to go on to graduate school. “I’m currently in the process of looking at schools that provide equine reproductive or equine exercise physiology,” she says. “I want a job that challenges me every day, where I don’t get bored.” Of course, she plans to keep up her horse habit.

Garcia also wants to go on to graduate school. “I think I’ll pursue a master’s in social work,” he says. He’s considering New York University’s program in cultural analysis, where a year is spent in Shanghai. Garcia could see himself working for a nonprofit or in corporate social responsibility.

woman standing between shelves full of boxes
Graduate student Clarissa Nord loves working at the American Heritage Center and aiding researchers from around the world.

Nord sees her public administration degree benefiting her as a future lawyer. “Big picture, I’d love to practice law in Wyoming,” she says. “Ultimately, my goal is to help communities across the state.”

Working as a pharmacist in a hospital setting is Ren’s plan, and he would love to stay in the Mountain West region.

Cole applied to become a McNair Scholar—a program that prepares underrepresented students for graduate studies. She’s currently deciding which master’s path to pursue but could see herself teaching gender and women’s studies, studying the best teaching approaches for professors, becoming a study-abroad resource officer or working in student affairs.

“Anything with mentoring and education is where I’m going,” Cole says. “I love being on campus and the college atmosphere. Academics are something I’ve struggled with, so it would be interesting to do research on which methods work and which don’t.”  As for study abroad, she says, “I want as many students as possible to go see their ideas of the world shift to these color pictures they’ve actually seen.”


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