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    Making the Most of College – Part 1

    person standing in front of solar panels
    George Ristic interned with the 9H Research Foundation, a clean energy research facility in Laramie.

    Meet eight students who share how they embraced opportunities to challenge themselves inside the classroom and out.

    The University of Wyoming is home to more than 10,000 students from across the United States and around the world. Here, they find endless opportunities to challenge themselves and grow both academically and personally. The students who embrace these opportunities do everything from conducting impressive research to taking on important leadership roles. They represent all that is possible for motivated students here. Meet eight of these students and discover their advice for making the most of your time at UW.


    Setting Big Goals

    By Michaela Jones

    A senior at UW majoring in management and entrepreneurship, George Ristic has big goals for his future.

    “One of my goals is to become a business owner along with being CEO of the company,” he says. “Business and everything that comes with it is my passion.”

    Ristic is from Belgrade, Serbia, but had his sights set on coming to UW.

    “My brother went to UW 10 years ago, and he helped me start my journey as well in the United States,” he adds. 

    Last fall, he interned at the nonprofit 9H Research Foundation, a large clean energy research facility in Laramie. His duties as an intern were varied, but everything he learned involved real-world experiences that he’ll need for his future career.

    One of Ristic’s projects included creating and managing a plan to certify, market and sell renewable energy certificates generated by 9H. A renewable energy certificate is a tradable “green attribute” that represents proof that one megawatt hour of electricity was generated from a renewable energy source.

    Ristic also served as a mentor for local junior high and high school students on the 4-H Robotics Team. One of his favorite campus activities is serving as a dance instructor for UW’s Cowboy Country Swing Club. “I help over 1,000 students develop dance skills each semester,” he says. “I provide a positive, alcohol-free atmosphere where students and others interested in country swing dancing can associate, learn and have fun.”

    George’s Tips

    • Apply for internships to learn from professionals in the field. “All the people working at 9H Research Foundation are knowledgeable in many areas like engineering, consulting, leading, report writing, business in general, interacting with people and much more,” he says.
    • Stay humble. When it comes to experiences, “You only get out of it what you put into it.”
    • Why UW? “UW is a great starting point to get valuable education, experiences and connections at an affordable price.”


    head photo of a woman
    Mercedes Cassidy

    Research Scholar and Author

    By Micaela Myers

    Thanks to her undergraduate experiences at UW, Mercedes Cassidy of Cheyenne, Wyo., is now pursuing her Ph.D. at the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

    She originally started school at Michigan State University but quickly learned that decision would lead to a great deal of debt, so Cassidy transferred to UW — a fateful choice that led to many incredible opportunities and achievements.

    “I’m most proud of the research I was able to conduct at UW,” says the physiology major and honors minor. “I learned a lot of skills and what it’s like to be a graduate student and have that control over my own experiences and creating my own data.”

    As a Wyoming Research Scholar, Cassidy worked with Department of Molecular Biology Assistant Professor Todd Schoborg, studying microcephaly or reduced brain size using fruit flies. Their research was published, with Cassidy as second author.

    Other impactful experiences included her honors coursework — which helped Cassidy become more globally minded — her involvement with the Wyoming Undergraduate Research Coalition, and tutoring chemistry.

    “Being able to help other students succeed is wonderful,” Cassidy says. “It’s a nice reinforcement for me and the concepts I’ve learned.”

    She got married while attending UW, and the two welcomed a son this summer. At the Mayo Clinic, Cassidy is now preparing for her career studying the human immune system.

    Mercedes’ Tips

    • College is about more than coursework. Experiential learning is key. “It’s preparing you to be a well-rounded person, so when you go into your career or to professional school, you’re not just coming in with book skills and no life skills.”
    • Be open minded and try new things.
    • Self advocate.
    • Why UW? “UW is pretty sizeable, but there is an intimacy you can get with your professors and mentors. That gives you the opportunity to really utilize the resources around you. That’s a great reason to come to UW. It’s easier to prepare for graduate school or a career or get internships. UW also offers funding so you can pursue these opportunities.”


    head photo of a man
    Tedla Tyndall
    Med School Bound

    By Micaela Myers

    The depth and breadth of Tedla Tyndall’s experiences at UW highlight the range of experiential learning available to motivated students. The physiology and English major from Fort Collins, Colo., went on great adventures with the Cowboy Climbing Club, conducted undergraduate research and worked in the Coe Student Innovation Center, among other things.

    Many students choose UW, in part for its fabulous outdoor recreation opportunities from mountain biking to skiing and rock climbing. “UW has some of the most talented and kind climbers I have ever met, and they are so inclusive it’s wild,” Tyndall says. “I have gone on adventures I never thought I would have, such as an ice climbing trip.”

    Tyndall also appreciated the ability to choose a research topic — dopamine — and spent a semester studying it. “All you have to do is ask any one of your advisers, and they’ll walk you through it,” he says. “Being able to choose exactly what I wanted to study was really empowering.”

    Working in the Coe Student Innovation Center proved another highlight. The 2,500-square-foot makerspace in Coe Library provides access to state-of-the-art emergent technology for creative, collaborative, innovative and entrepreneurial projects. “Seeing students be able to cathartically get messy with paint and cool gadgets was rewarding, and being able to do so myself was wonderful too,” Tyndall says.

    However, every college student faces challenges. Tyndall ran into financial hardships when his mom was in a car accident. The financial aid office worked with him to secure student loans to cover the shortfall. “I wouldn’t be in school without them,” he says.

    After graduation this past May, Tyndall started studying for medical school entrance exams while traveling in Spain. He hopes to become an emergency room doctor.

    Tedla’s Tips

    • Network! Get to know your professors, advisers, fellow students and administrators.
    • “Sit in the front row, put your phone away; find the hardest working kid in class and make them your accountability partner; find a hard-working student in each class who needs help, and help them (teaching helps learning, and you’ll both benefit); and stay physically and creatively active.”
    • Why UW? “A lot of other universities don’t have the flexibility to be reasonable, and UW really feels like it’s run by humans and not a robot. It almost has a bit of a ‘thumbs-up to everything’ vibe. Want to start a club? Easy-peasy. Want a credit to count? Easy. Want to find a lab to join? Easy.”


    head photo of a woman
    Jenna Crouse

    Researching Neuro-Engineering

    By Micaela Myers

    Jenna Crouse likes to plan things. Her plan for college was to earn a degree so she could quickly enter the working world. But UW taught her to welcome the unexpected. “If I could go back to freshman-year Jenna, I’d tell her, ‘You can’t plan out all that will happen. You’ll have opportunities. Take the time to learn about those opportunities and participate in them,’” says the chemical engineering graduate from Casper who also earned minors in honors, chemistry, mathematics and biomedical engineering.

    An opportunity Crouse embraced was that of UW STEP tutor. “It’s been very impactful for me to teach younger students,” she says. “Oftentimes they’re struggling and, as a tutor, I can help them through that. My grandparents and dad are teachers, so I have that respect and understanding for good teaching.”

    Another major opportunity came from joining student organizations and honor societies, including Mortar Board, Tau Beta Pi, Phi Kappa Phi and the Joint Engineering and Physical Science Dean’s Council. As president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers UW chapter, Crouse took the lead in planning and running the annual Rocky Mountain Student Regional Conference in spring 2023. Close to 100 students from nine universities attended the two-day conference. “It was a big event, and it taught me a lot about putting on a conference, including fundraising and organizing,” she says.

    These involvements helped Crouse meet friends and get to know her professors. They also earned her the Wyoming Engineering Society’s student of the year award, which she received in Casper on her 22nd birthday in front of her family, including her grandmother, who taught her math as a child. 

    Crouse also discovered a love of research while at UW, which motivated her to pursue a doctorate in biomedical engineering at the University of Utah, where she’s researching neuro-engineering. “My lifelong goal is to develop medicine or tools to target synapsis in the brain to help with everything from acute seizures or Alzheimer’s patients retain their memory longer.”

    Jenna’s Tips

    • Embrace the unexpected.
    • Utilize campus resources.
    • Get to know your professors.
    • Join student organizations.
    • Why UW? “There really is a sense of community. I feel fortunate to know all my professors on a personal basis, and I know everyone in my graduating class. At other universities, everyone is competing. One thing I really like about UW is that, even in the Honors College, we just want you to be you and bring your best self to the table.”

    Contact Us

    Institutional Communications
    Bureau of Mines Building, Room 137
    Laramie, WY 82071
    Phone: (307) 766-2929

    Find us on Facebook (Link opens a new window) Find us on Twitter (Link opens a new window)