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Rock Springs and Cody Students Selected as UW Honorary Cowboys

October 16, 2013
Boy and girl
Phillip Hansen Jr. and Jozi Simpson

Elementary students from Rock Springs and Cody are the recipients of Honorary Cowboy awards given by the Associated Students of the University of Wyoming (ASUW).

Phillip Hansen Jr., 11, of Rock Springs and Cody’s Jozi Simpson, 10, will be honored this weekend and will be recognized during the UW Cowboys/Colorado State University game Saturday, Oct. 19. Game time is at noon.

ASUW gives the Honorary Cowboy award to a Wyoming K-12 student facing “formidable life circumstances,” says ASUW President Brett Kahler, a communications senior from Casper. The award was established last year by the 100th ASUW student government to award a student who represents the “cowboy-up” spirit to face personal challenges.

“We are excited to honor these two students with this award. I believe that this award shows that the UW community reaches beyond the limits of Laramie and into the communities that comprise this wonderful state,” Kahler says. “We are happy to recognize Jozi and Phillip with an award that recognizes them as part of the UW family, and to celebrate their strong spirit in the face of adversity.”

The first ASUW Honorary Cowboy was ASUW office associate Lisa Augustin’s son, Derek, who was receiving treatment for cancer at the time of the recognition.

This year, ASUW selected two nominees.

Hansen has dealt with two major losses in his family in recent months. While his younger brother, Hunter, was being treated for leukemia, his mother suddenly died of a heart attack. Three months later, Hansen’s brother passed away.

“I see Philip as a resilient student, moving on with his life with his father,” according to a letter from his nominator, teacher Erika Frisby. “Even through these hardships, father and son persevere and exemplify the ‘cowboy-up’ spirit in their day-to-day lives.”

Hansen is the son of Phillip Hansen Sr. of Rock Springs.

Simpson’s father fell at a construction site and was injured so badly that he is now paralyzed from the chest down. In recent months, Simpson has shown “an upbeat spirit and a work ethic of someone twice her age,” says a nominator. She is involved in student council, poetry club and competitive clogging.

“Jozi has learned to deal with adversity with a broad Wyoming smile on her face,” says a teacher who nominated her for the award. “She absolutely attacks any difficult task that is put before her with gusto and good cheer.”

Simpson is the daughter of Julie and Sean Simpson of Cody.

An executive officer, senator and staff member from ASUW, along with a UW Athletics Department official and a UW student, select the award recipients. Nominations are distributed statewide, and nominators submit letters of recommendation.

Hansen and Simpson will be at UW Friday evening and taken to dinner. They will then be honored at the UW football game against CSU, where they will be escorted onto the field by members of the UW football staff.

They also will tour athletics facilities and meet with UW coaches.

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