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The World Needs More Cowboys – And So Does Wyoming (Northeast Counties)

January 8, 2020

By Micaela Myers

Principals, entrepreneurs, volunteers, teachers, company presidents, professors. All are community leaders, and all have one thing in common—a degree from the University of Wyoming. Not only does the university serve the students of the state, but the university’s graduates serve the state’s communities.

This year, UW launched “The World Needs More Cowboys – and So Does Wyoming” featuring in-state advertising, profiles and videos of alumni from across the state coupled with celebratory events for community members and future students (uwyo.edu/cowboys). Meet 11 alumni who play key roles in their counties and state.

 

Also see:  Northwest Counties  |  Southeast Counties  |  Southwest Counties

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man standing in a classroom
Bertine Bahige at Rawhide Elementary School in Gillette

Bertine Bahige, Campbell County

UW alumnus Bertine Bahige was 13 years old, growing up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, when a rebel group kidnapped him to become a child soldier. Two years later, he made a daring escape that brought him to a refugee camp in Mozambique. From there, Bahige entered a refugee resettlement program that took him to Baltimore, Md. He worked three jobs and attended community college, performing so well that UW offered him a scholarship.

“The University of Wyoming gave me a chance to dream about a quality education,” he says. “As a refugee who arrived in this country that I now call home with virtually nothing, I knew deep inside that education was a key to a successful future—but most importantly to an opportunity to give back to this great state and community that welcomed me. Through my courses at the university, coupled with the great professionals who I came to know at a personal level, I feel that I was guided every step of the way to ensure my success.”

Bahige graduated from UW in 2009 with his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and mathematics education, and he then earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from South Dakota State University. He taught math at Campbell County High School for many years before taking on the position of principal at Rawhide Elementary School in Gillette four years ago. There, he also serves as co-director of the school’s dual-immersion program, which he helped expand.

Refugees are looking for an opportunity, Bahige says. He notes that many look at refugees in terms of what it will cost the state or country to take them in without looking at the other side, which is the benefits refugees bring and how they enrich the communities where they settle.

In addition to his work as principal, Bahige coaches soccer at Campbell County High School and is a board member for both the John Paul II Catholic School in Gillette and Children’s Developmental Services. He has also coached cross country and volunteered to help prepare high school students for the ACT while at the high school.

“I consider myself a Cowboy and proud product of the University of Wyoming,” Bahige says. “A true Cowboy is a hard worker—someone who is ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work. There is nothing compared to the resiliency and the hard work of a Cowboy! Understanding that nothing will come easy but through hard work, perseverance and commitment to problem solving, everything is possible. The sky is the limit—this is what it means to be a Cowboy, and I am sure the world needs more of these Cowboys!”

He recommends UW to future students based on its quality and affordability: “I believe that UW provides the best opportunity for high-quality learning on an affordable budget in our state and region. I have seen the university grow a lot since I have been there in regard to academic and other opportunities for its young attendees. Based upon the recent research that I have read, our College of Education is ranked among the best in the region for an affordable price.”

 

man standing in front of an oil refinery
Michael Farnsworth at the Wyoming Refining Co. refinery

Michael Farnsworth, Weston County

Michael Farnsworth meets many fellow UW alumni in his industry. “I have tremendous pride for the Wyoming Cowboys and have met many colleagues in the energy industry from UW,” he says. “I believe the quality of education for the price cannot be beat.”

Farnsworth graduated in 1994 with a degree in civil engineering and an emphasis in environmental engineering. “The detailed engineering classes were very beneficial in my early years as an environmental and project engineer,” he says. “As I progressed throughout my career, I’ve always used my education from UW to help with the different stepping stones.”

For the past 12 years, Farnsworth has served as the vice president of the Wyoming Refining Co. and Wyoming Pipeline Co. in Newcastle, owned by Par Pacific. The company refines crude oil to clean fuels such as propane, butane, jet fuel, diesel and gasoline. He’s been with the company for 25 years, with past roles including environmental engineer, project engineer and various managerial positions.

“I was born and raised in Newcastle and have pretty much lived here all my life, with the exception of a couple of years working at a refinery outside of Chicago,” Farnsworth says.

Active in the community, he’s served as treasurer of the Newcastle Volunteer Fire Department and helped coach youth football and baseball.

His daughter Ashten currently attends UW and is in her senior year in the College of Business focusing on human resources.

“I very much enjoyed my time at the University of Wyoming,” Farnsworth says.” I still have lifelong friends from my days there and believe it’s a great value for the education.”

 

woman standing outside in front of building
Kristi Von Krosigk in front of the College of Education Building

Kristi Von Krosigk, Sheridan County

Student teaching is a pivotal experience for new teachers, during which they gain valuable classroom experiences and learn from expert mentors. One of UW’s flourishing student-teaching areas is Sheridan County, where Kristi Von Krosigk has been facilitating the preservice teacher program for over 15 years. 

“I supervise and support student teachers in their teaching practicum and prepare them for job interviews,” says Von Krosigk, who graduated from UW with her bachelor’s degree in education in 1991, followed by her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction in 1997 and an administration endorsement in 2001.

Von Krosigk also collaborated with UW Professor Allen Trent on an Ellbogen Foundation grant. Through the grant, they videoed and interviewed teachers from around the state on literacy instruction in Wyoming, including exemplary elementary teaching and management.

When Von Krosigk first arrived at UW as an undergraduate, she quickly found a strong sense of community on campus. “I was afforded opportunities to learn and work with interesting and challenging people,” she says. “I think what I’ve learned most is that building relationships is critical in any field or committee I have been involved in. I strive to go about things in a genuine manner and have realized that the people are the best part of my experiences. I feel like I’ve met so many people I can reach out to for ideas, feedback and support.”

Von Krosigk and her husband, Greg, have three daughters: Sara, Grace and Avery. They also own a retail store in a historic building that they helped to renovate in Sheridan—The Union at the Montgomery. The mission of the store is to be a place where it all comes together. The small boutique provides a creative space for people to share their products in a collaborative environment. The Union also offers specialized classes for youth, including a young entrepreneur class, encouraging creative business thinking. Von Krosigk says people feel welcome there, and they aim to promote a culture of collaboration and kindness.

In addition to her professional pursuits, Von Krosigk serves as the Sheridan Memorial Hospital Foundation president and in the past has served boards for the Center for Vital Community, Big Horn Education Fund, Sheridan County School District 1, Sheridan Senior Center endowment and Family Planning of the Big Horns (now Reproductive Healthcare of the Big Horns).

As a second-generation UW graduate, Von Krosigk recommends the university to future generations, including her daughters. Daughter Grace is a sophomore at UW. “There is a sense of pride and family on campus,” Von Krosigk says. “In my experience, professors and staff are willing to go the extra mile to help students succeed. I am proud to be a graduate and would encourage others to look at the options that UW has to offer. There are so many opportunities for students both on campus as well as study abroad.”

To Von Krosigk, being a UW Cowboy comes with a sense of pride and loyalty. “The value of dedication and a sense of belonging are what ties me to UW. I can travel around the state and other parts of the country and find connections with people who share an unspoken bond with experience in Wyoming and at the university.”

Von Krosigk’s father was a College of Agriculture and Natural Resources alumnus. “When he passed away this spring, everyone was offered a brown ribbon with Steamboat proudly displayed,” she says. “I was overwhelmed with the number of people who shared in the same Cowboy pride that we do. Once a Cowboy, always a Cowboy.”


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