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Published June 15, 2023
By Sophia F.
When you sit down and think about it, four years is a long time. It’s a long time to be in one place, studying the same subject, and following the same routines as a college student. But as the old saying goes, “time flies when you’re having fun”.
It seems like just yesterday that my parents and I were driving up to Laramie for my college visit in October 2018. There was no snow on the ground, and it was 55 degrees, sunny with no wind (I did get tricked into thinking Laramie weather was always like that). Next thing I know, I’m holding up a “Future Cowboy” sign in my kitchen.
As a senior in high school, I thought I knew everything about the world and what it might have in store for me. Fast forward again, it’s September 2019 and I’m heading back up to Laramie, this time to move into my dorm and officially start my college career as a University of Wyoming student.
If you were to ask me to sum up my college experience and all that I’ve learned at UW in a sentence, I would tell you that it’s impossible. However, for the sake of this blog, I’ll try my best. College is scary, and growing up is even scarier, but if you know how to turn challenges into something you can learn and develop from, all the pieces start to fit and become less nerve-wracking.
I frequently joked that I didn’t intend to be a student at the University of Wyoming for the duration of my college career. If you asked freshman year Sophia why, she’d tell you it’s because she didn’t want to wear a brown graduation gown – it's just not her color.
Brown gown aside, the true reason I wasn’t planning on staying all four years was because I was worried about stagnancy. I didn’t like the idea of being in one place for too long because I had learned that friendships, success, jobs and even happiness were just short-term facets in the journey of life and that one must move to find them in other places. Throw the fear of growing up and entering the “real world” on top of that, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
I spent much of my first semester as a student who was uninvolved, uninterested and uncaring. I had joined a club and my sorority and made some friends, but it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t fully experiencing college or allowing myself to develop through what I was learning. Then 2020 came, along with everyone’s favorite topic of conversation, COVID-19, and I was sent home in the spring semester of my freshman year.
While others looked at this change with a fear of the unknown, I viewed it as a chance to grow. It was a chance to embrace not knowing, being stagnant and tackling real-world issues. During this time, I was able to reflect on my first two semesters as a student at the University of Wyoming, realizing that I was missing out on so much due to my fears and the constant desire to move on and do something new. Then, I remembered the reason I chose to come to the University of Wyoming in the first place.
When I visited UW on that sunny fall day in 2018, I knew I had found my home the second I stepped foot on campus, as cheesy as it sounds. I had been active in my college search for quite some time prior to that and hadn’t felt that way visiting anywhere else. Aside from those cheesy “I’m home” moments, comparable to a Hallmark movie script, if I could attribute my decision to go to a school 7 hours from home, in a state that I knew nothing about and knew no one in, it would be the “The World Needs More Cowboys Campaign”.
Prior to beginning my time at UW, the word "cowboy" had little meaning to me other than the stereotypes I had seen portrayed in the old westerns I would watch reluctantly with my dad. Now that I've graduated and am gearing up to enter the real world, I can confidently say that my preconceived ideas and notions about what being a cowboy means have changed drastically. To me, being a cowboy means being tough, resilient, and confident. It means trailblazing and building new opportunities for yourself each day, all with the grit and determination to set you on the right path, even if you might wander off along the way. It means learning from mistakes and successes alike and above all, not fearing standing still for too long, because those are the times when we learn the most about ourselves. I came to the realization that real cowboys, cowgirls and cowpokes don’t fear stagnancy because they know that the trail ahead is waiting to be blazed.
Coming out of COVID-19 and returning to the new normal, I kept these personal beliefs close and when things got tough, I was able to think back on them. I joined more clubs and academic honoraries (even becoming the president of one), became a better student, friend, and leader in my campus community, had the opportunity to land my dream internship, and most importantly, developed as a person.
On May 13th, 2023, I put on that brown graduation gown. I couldn’t help but laugh at those fears I had my freshman year and wonder “I wonder what little Sophia would think of this.” I walked across the stage and received my diploma with all of the life lessons and skills that UW taught me on my mind. New adventures and opportunities will always be available to you at the University of Wyoming. I personally believe that there’s no need to search anywhere else because there’s something here for everyone.
With the cowboy mentality in mind, being stagnant doesn’t seem too scary anymore and growing up has become something to look forward to. "The World Needs More Cowboys" is a phrase that will forever be engrained in my mind. The world needs more people to blaze new paths and lead with grit and resilience in the places that they currently are. Don’t search too hard for happiness in other places because you’ll be on that hunt forever. It’s more important that you learn to find it where you are.
I am extremely grateful for my four years at the University of Wyoming and although it flew by, I feel ready and prepared for the next journey in life!