UW is Family

people in the snow with bicycles
people in the snow with bicycles
Matt, Josh and Michael Blaney biking at Happy Jack. (Photo courtesy of the Blaney family)

For so many people, UW is family — not only while they’re here, but also long after they leave. For alum and Wyoming native Michael Blaney, UW is family for even more reasons — most of his family members for generations are alums.

Blaney is the UWAA’s new digital engagement and communication coordinator. He is a Cheyenne native who graduated from UW with degrees in elementary education and marketing. In the College of Business, he was the community service officer for the UW Ethics Club, and it was there that he met his wife, Kenna, who was club president. Before coming to the UW Alumni Association, Blaney founded a digital marketing business, Brand Haüs Consulting, and served as its website developer and brand strategist.

“The culture at the UWAA is very warm, and I’m trying to pass that along,” Blaney says. “Working at a nonprofit, you help people make connections. All the people who have helped me and given me so much — I have a lot of gratitude for the experiences I’ve had. I’m helping others and helping enrich that connection and bringing them back as well.”

Blaney’s whole family attended UW. First was his grandfather, Keiji “K.G.” Okano, a Wyoming native who served in the U.S. Army during World War II, earned a doctorate, taught high school and served in the Wyoming Department of Education. Blaney’s grandmother, Shirley, earned a business degree at UW. Their siblings got degrees from UW, their kids got degrees at UW, and their kids’ kids got degrees — including Michael.

Blaney’s mom, Kathryn, earned her civil engineering degree at UW and worked at the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality before staying home to take care of Blaney and his three brothers. His father, Dan Blaney, earned degrees in finance and management information systems from UW. His three brothers — Danny, Josh and Matt — came to UW for degrees in computer engineering, finance/MBA and computer science.

There’s another great UW tradition — meeting your spouse. Dan and Kathryn met in the Union, and Michael and Kenna met in the College of Business.

The family connections run even deeper — attending Cowboy basketball games, for example — and include philanthropy. Kathryn and Dan established the Keiji G. and Shirley S. Okano Memorial Scholarship in Business that supports juniors, seniors and graduate students majoring in business at UW.

Education has always been a part of Blaney’s life. His grandfather was a role model, but a more immediate inspiration was his 10th-grade science teacher, Lee Geopfert. “He really made a connection for me,” Blaney says. “I wanted to do that for other people.” And do it he did. His first degree was in elementary education, and he taught fourth and sixth graders at Pioneer Park in Cheyenne. And now it’s come full circle — he’s starting to see some of the students he taught in grade school coming to UW.

After teaching for a while, though, Blaney realized that that wasn’t what he wanted to do for the long term, and so he came back to school to get a marketing degree. He’s always loved marketing and was active in DECA in high school, and his dad had had a great experience in the College of Business. The connections he made there brought him to his current position at the UWAA.

Blaney’s advice to students? “One of the things I wanted to change when I came back was being more involved and be part of the UW community,” he says. “The connections you make will keep following you down the road and enrich your life in ways that you can’t really foresee.”

“Working alongside my wife, Kenna, and the rest of the UW Ethics Club’s officer team to plan club meetings and develop the UW SparkTank initiative are some of my most cherished memories. Participating in the Daniels Fund Ethics Consortium Case Competition was also a highlight. It allowed me to bond with our coach and the rest of the team through hard work and good times.” — Michael Blaney

“My most favorite memory at UW was meeting my husband, Michael, in the spring of 2019. We talked outside of the College of Business for what felt like 15 minutes but ended up being over an hour, and we’ve been together since. I’ve always loved being on the UW campus — the campus is beautiful year-round, and it is a welcoming space for all. I’ve loved attending basketball games since before my time at UW, and I look for any chance I can get to be in the Double A. I can’t thank UW enough for providing me with such a high-quality undergraduate and legal education.” —  Kenna Blaney (wife)

“What I remember most about my time at UW: It was a challenging, rewarding and an affordable education. I was able to work and pay my way through. Amazing basketball. We had to stand in line for student tickets to watch! UW was my second home. I never felt like I was away from home when I was at school.” — Dan Blaney (dad)

“The College of Engineering prepared me for a professional career with innovative professors and such a welcoming environment. The opportunities to experience artistic and athletic events were also a valuable part of my education at UW.”  — Kathryn Blaney (mom)

“My freshman year at UW, I became an avid explorer of the facilities. Before graduating, I took my mom on a tour of all the facilities, and it’s a memory we often reminisce on.” — Matt Blaney (brother)

“I attended UW because it is a family tradition and because I want to follow in my aunt’s footsteps by becoming a good electrical engineer.” — Josh Blaney (brother)

“UW provides a great atmosphere that is fun to learn in. As a university that our whole family has attended and achieved success at, it feels like an academic home.” — Danny Blaney (brother)

Contact Us

Institutional Communications
Bureau of Mines Building, Room 137
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: (307) 766-2929
Email: cbaldwin@uwyo.edu

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