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Published April 25, 2023
By Tamara Linse
UW students Katie Welniak and Payson Birkeland have served as the University of Wyoming Alumni Association’s (UWAA) interns. These talented individuals are making a big difference for alums while furthering their career goals, and we are so lucky to have them!
Where are you from? My name is Katie Welniak, and I have lived in Laramie most of my life. I am the middle of five children and have two amazing parents — Randy and Wendi Welniak —who have instilled the Brown and Gold spirit in me from a young age. I graduated from Black Hills State University in 2022, where I played volleyball for four years and earned my bachelor’s in communications studies with minors in Spanish and business administration. I am now a first-year master’s student working toward my master’s in communication while simultaneously working as a graduate teaching assistant teaching public speaking here at UW.
What has influenced your direction in life? Something that influenced my life greatly was being able to study abroad in Spain in 2022. I was able to live three months in Valencia and work at a local marketing firm, where I was able to connect with like-minded people to learn so much about the field of social media and improve my Spanish skills. Not to mention, I also got engaged to my fiancé there!
What do you do for the UWAA? At the UWAA, I am primarily a web and social media intern. I was able to redesign and restructure the UWAA website over the summer and work toward improving our social media through introducing different trends, creating content and getting more involved with our UWAA community. This internship has been so valuable toward my future career path and life experiences. I have made great connections with community members, the UWAA team and the UW Foundation team as well.
What are your future plans? My future career plans are still up in the air, but I look forward to pursuing a career in the communication field. I have interest in continuing to teach at the university level as well as expanding my web design business, KW Marketing and Design. I’ve also always been interested in following in my dad’s footsteps by working in athletic administration, so if that is where life takes me, I would be thrilled too. As for my personal plans, I am getting married in the summer of 2024 to UW alum, former UW Cowboy football player and current UW law student Jackson Marcotte.
Where are you from? My name is Payson Birkeland, and I am a senior at UW studying professional sales and marketing. I grew up in Aladdin, Wyo., and attended high school in Belle Fourche, S.D. I come from a family of five — my dad Clay, my mom Melinda, and my brothers Cain and Riley. The three of us kids are triplets, and my brothers have always been my biggest supporters and my best friends.
What has influenced your direction in life? A time that my life course was changed and I was incredibly influenced was when I took my first sales class with Molly Burchett. Molly introduced me to one of my many passions — bringing value to key stakeholders and consumers. Molly quickly became my mentor, and she expressed confidence in my abilities and helped open numerous doors for me. Molly has helped me reach so many goals set in college. Without Molly and her incredible mentorship, I would not be half of the person I am. The College of Business truly has amazing faculty members!
What do you do for the UWAA? When I was a digital engagement intern at the UWAA, I was mainly focused on social media and engagement with community members. I spent my time scheduling social media posts, engaging with followers and learning how to interact with potential and existing donors through various digital channels, including infographics, social media, messaging, magazines and journalism, and other specialties. This experience has allowed me to grow personally and professionally. I would not trade it for the world! I have made some lifelong connections through the UWAA and would encourage everyone to take this internship.
What are your future plans? Currently, I am working part time with Mesa Solutions at its research and development headquarters in Loveland, Colo. This marketing internship will turn into a full-time position as a marketing coordinator in May! I am very excited to move into this next chapter of my life — however, I will forever hold a very special place in my heart for Laramie and UW. This university has raised me and has built the person I am today. I am so thankful for all of the memories and connections.