Dive Into Experiential Learning

man standing inside
Student David Stotzer’s internship with the UW Foundation helped him become a more confident writer and editor. (Photo by Austin Jackson)

Experiences outside the classroom — from research and internships to clubs and education abroad — enrich your life and prepare you for your future. 

Get Ready to SOAR

Experiential learning encompasses a wide variety of hands-on experiences outside the traditional classroom. The University of Wyoming offers many such opportunities, including a variety of on-campus events, plus internships, jobs, undergraduate research, volunteer work, education abroad, recreation and the Outdoor Program, which you can read about below.

“Experiences outside the classroom can complement what you’re doing inside the classroom, whether you are applying what you’re learning in real-life situations or just gaining additional skill sets,” says Academic Advising Manager Rebecca Despain in the Advising Career and Exploratory Studies office. “Engaging in high-impact experiences allows students opportunities to expand their horizons and build competencies that are valued and sought after by employers.”

Despain oversees UW’s SOAR Program, a platform that guides students in developing and identifying competencies in seven key areas. “The gamified systems lets students earn points and badges as well as provides a digital space to compile and reflect on their experiential learning,” she says. “When students understand the great impact these experiences have on their career and self-development, it allows them to share their unique story to employers and post-graduate programs.”

Learn more at www.uwyo.edu/soar

Apply for Internships

Internships have a strong impact on initial career outcomes for graduates. In addition, they help you explore whether a particular career is a good fit for you as you build your resume. Many internships are also paid, helping fund your education. UW helps connect students with internships via its career centers and individual colleges and departments.

Gareth Flowers, now a controls and automation engineer for Patterson-UTI Drilling Co. LLC in Texas, graduated May 2022 with his degree in chemical engineering. During his time at UW, Flowers took part in undergraduate research and completed an internship with Sinclair Oil Corp., both of which helped him determine his career interests and swiftly land a job at graduation. You can read Flowers’s story here (add a link).

Junior David Stotzer, an economics and marketing major (honors minor) from Albuquerque, N.M., completed an internship with the UW Foundation his sophomore year. “It focused a lot on writing and editing various pieces for the UW Foundation,” he says. “This ranged from reports to press releases to social media posts, and it exposed me to a wide variety of writing styles. The internship also helped me become a more confident writer and editor, which has translated to the writing I do for classes as well.”

His internship was so successful that the UW Foundation hired Stotzer once again to support the work of the foundation’s marketing and communications department.

woman in a white coat
woman in white coat standing Pharmacy student Emily Powell is a member of several clubs that have helped her grow and find community.

Join Clubs and Societies

UW is home to more than 200 student organizations, which offers something for everyone. Some are for hobbies, such as fencing or swing dancing, while others are for academic, volunteer or other interests. The Cowbell platform lets you explore student organizations and find those that interest you (uwyo.presence.io). In addition, there are numerous honors societies, fraternities, sororities and the Associated Students of UW student government (ASUW). Even if you’re not sure whether a student organization is for you, give it a try. Getting involved helps you build networks, make friends, have fun and form connections. Joining a club or society also offers leadership opportunities.

Cowboy Coach Sarah Griner is a member of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honors Society. “It has opened many doors for me and provided me with many opportunities,” she says. “I have been able to meet new people, get involved and have been given the opportunity to study abroad.”

Fellow Cowboy Coach Abigail Fry is a member of several student pharmacist organizations and serves as president-elect of the American Pharmacists Association chapter on campus. “These experiences have benefitted me not only by encouraging relationships with my peers, faculty and members of the community, but these experiences have also nurtured my professional development,” she says. Through this involvement, she volunteered for diabetes testing outreach programs and a program to safely dispose of unused prescriptions. 

Coach Emily Powell is also a member of several pharmacy organizations, as well as the Christian Campus Ventures student chapter. She also serves as a Wellness Ambassador for the Wellness Center, which is part of campus recreation. “These experiences have provided me opportunities to find community and grow in my chosen career path,” she says.

Coach Peyton O’Dougherty joined a Freshman Interest Group as a first-year student, where she met her best friend (learn more about FIGs here add a link). “I also participated in several clubs including Rotary’s Rotaract, which has to do with volunteering, the Wesley Foundation involving campus community, and St. Paul’s Newman Center for college faith focus and formation,” she says. “I was also involved in Fraternity and Sorority Life as a member of Chi Omega for three years. This was an interesting experience, which shaped me in many ways as I took on leadership roles and made some strong friendships.” 

four people examining things on a lab table
McNair Scholar Toby Covill (red shirt) conducts undergraduate research in the Berry Center with Associate Professor Catherine Wagner, graduate student William Rosenthal and Research Scientist Sean Harrington.

Consider Undergraduate Research

Many students list undergraduate research as one of their most impactful university experiences. At UW, you can begin working with professors and graduate students on research projects as early as your first year. You can even earn money for college as you conduct this real-world research, via funding opportunities from programs including INBRE, EPSCoR, McNair Scholars, Wyoming Research Scholars, Engineering Undergraduate Research Scholars and the Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium.

Senior Toby Covill of Pinedale, Wyo., is majoring in biology with a concentration in ecology and evolution (honors and geology minors). He conducts undergraduate research in the fields of morphology and evolutionary biology through the McNair Scholars Program. Funded via a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the McNair Scholars Program helps students from traditionally underrepresented groups in graduate education gain research experiences and prepare for graduate school.

“It’s so nice to be able to connect with other first-generation students and have support groups and resources all devoted to informing you about research and graduate school. I wouldn’t be as ready for graduate school as I am without the McNair Scholars Program,” says Covill, who is mentored by Department of Botany Associate Professor Catherine Wagner and INBRE Outreach Coordinator Sean Harrington in the Wagner Lab. “Undergraduate research is a great way to build rapport with potential mentors, give you experience in the appropriate fields, as well as strengthen teamwork and communication skills. It can even help you to know what fields you’re interested in.”

Cowboy Coach Grant Dillivan, a psychology and criminal justice major, also takes part in undergraduate research. “My experience with research has helped me grow as a student and has allowed me to discover how much I enjoy conducting psychological research,” he says.

Research opportunities are available in a wide variety of fields.

“Currently, I am working under Assistant Professor Yun Li as a research assistant participating in a study that focuses primarily on autism spectrum disorder,” says Cowboy Coach and physiology and Spanish major Sarah Griner. “This experience has offered me real-life laboratory and research experience, which I can apply toward my goal of attending medical school.”

If you’re interested in undergraduate research, talk to personnel and professors in your department, as well as your adviser, to learn more. 

Explore the World

UW is home to one of the largest education-abroad endowments of any public land-grant university. This financial support makes it possible to study abroad affordably. UW Education Abroad offers over 30 faculty-led programs annually as well as 400 other options, including 38 bilateral exchange partner programs. You can study abroad for a full academic year, a semester or over winter, summer or spring break.

Students report education abroad is nothing short of life changing. It also helps prepare them for a global marketplace.

“Study abroad has helped me mature and grow by allowing me to experience other world cultures,” says Cowboy Coach Grant Dillivan.

The winter issue of UWyo Magazine was devoted to education abroad and all of UW’s international initiatives. Read more here. Visit the UW Education Abroad website at www.uwyo.edu/uwyoabroad

man with basketball court in the background
Student Avery O’Brien enjoys participating in intramural sports like basketball and flag football.

Take Up Sports and Recreation

Taking part in sports and recreation is a great way to meet friends, have fun and maintain your physical and mental health. UW’s Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center offers students 17,625 square feet of workout space, with ample weight and cardio equipment, three multi-purpose fitness rooms, a cycling studio, a dance studio, a climbing wall, pools, a track, indoor soccer, plus courts for basketball, volleyball, badminton, racquetball and squash. Visit the Wellness Center to hang out in the Zen Den, enjoy the massage chairs, schedule a personal or athletic training appointment, or take part in a number of free programs that cover the range of wellness — mental, physical and financial. Students can also join one of 20 Club Sports or 55 Intramural Sports teams.

“I participate in various intramural sports such as flag football and basketball each semester, and those are such a blast,” says Cowboy Coach Avery O’Brien. “These experiences really helped me with making new friends and kept my competitive spirit going.” 

Find Adventure in the Great Outdoors

Wyoming’s amazing outdoor recreation is the reason many students choose UW. “UW is great for a lot of reasons, but I really love the people and also how easily accessible outdoor recreation is here,” says junior David Stotzer.

Laramie is surrounded by thousands of acres of national forest to the east and west as well as the Pilot Peak Recreation Area and Laramie River in town. Enjoy epic camping, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, fishing and mountain biking. In the winter, you can head west to downhill ski or snowboard at Snowy Range Ski Area, or head east to Happy Jack for groomed cross-country ski trails, snowshoeing or snow biking.

To help you take advantage of the amazing recreational opportunities, UW’s Outdoor Program offers equipment rentals — from kayaks to skis and everything in between — plus clinics, group outings and more. Whether you’re an experienced outdoors person looking for leadership opportunities or a newbie who has never tried something, the Outdoor Program is the perfect place to start.

“I enjoy backpacking, hiking and canoeing,” says senior Ki Radcliffe of Bentonville, Ark., who will soon graduate with degrees in studio art and environment and natural resources. “I chose UW because of how affordable it was, because it had good programs in my intended areas of study and because of its location near great places for outdoor recreation.”

Radcliffe took part in a weeklong climbing trip before becoming employed at the Outdoor Program, where she took a wilderness first aid course and has led hikes, snowshoe trips, backcountry cooking clinics and introduction to climbing clinics.

“I enjoy leading trips and being outside,” Radcliffe says. “It is also rewarding to teach people new skills and to see people get excited about being outdoors. Being a trip leader has also taught me a lot of valuable leadership and risk management skills.”

Radcliffe encourages students to give the Outdoor Program a try.

“One thing I love about these programs is how accessible they are,” she says. “They provide students with the opportunity to get outside, explore local areas and learn new skills. Providing gear, transportation and instruction allows people to learn about activities that they might have otherwise.”

Learn more at www.uwyo.edu/rec/outdoor-program.

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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