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    Making the Most of College – Part 2

    head photo of a woman
    Makayla Kocher

    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.


    Internships Proved Pivotal

    By Micaela Myers

    Not knowing what you want to major in or what career you want to pursue when you start college can be a positive, as it was for Makayla Kocher of Monument, Colo. “College is a time of discovery, and you will uncover many different paths and passions that you can choose to pursue,” says Kocher, who graduated with a degree in English and minors in anthropology, honors and museum studies. “Thanks to my college experiences, I have become the ‘me’ I am today.”

    The Honors College fostered Kocher’s interdisciplinary exploration, which you read more about on page 68. In addition, internships helped ignite her passions. First, Kocher interned at the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum in Leadville, Colo., learning exhibit design, how to keep collections records and more. “It was during this internship that I discovered a passion for working in museums and making culture and history accessible to those who visit,” Kocher says.

    Next, she interned with Global Treks and Adventures, which included traveling to Iceland to study literacy culture. “This changed my life because it showed me the value of intellectual and international pursuits,” Kocher says. “While these internships were vastly different, they both taught me the value of supplementing my classroom experience with experiential opportunities.”

    On campus, Kocher worked as a writing consultant at the UW Writing Center, where she found a community of like-minded individuals and was able to realize her love of helping others while developing writing, mentoring and leadership skills.

    “Your college experience will be what you make of it, and that starts with the opportunities you seek out,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone because taking that step can lead to unforgettable and life-changing experiences.”

    Kocher is now pursuing her master’s degree in English at UW. “I have come out of my shell, stepped out of my comfort zone and discovered that I am a curious, adventurous, opportunity-seeking individual that is driven by passion, service, connecting with others and contributing to the world in my own ways,” she says. “I am able to be me while expanding my horizons and pushing myself in new ways.”

    Makayla’s Tips

    • It’s OK not to know your major. Take a few semesters to explore.
    • Seek out internships or work-study.
    • Try education abroad.
    • Why UW? “You should consider UW because of the wide reach of opportunities you can have here —from campus work to internships to study abroad experiences. Also, the people are extremely welcoming, and the professors want students to do well. If you take the initiative, they can become lifelong mentors.”


    man standing outside
    Johnathan Walker (Courtesy photo)
    First-Generation Success Story

    By Micaela Myers

    Johnathan Walker, a first-generation student from Loveland, Colo., hit a roadblock freshman year. He didn’t have the funds to continue college. Walker sat down with Honors College Dean Peter Parolin and folks from the financial aid office, and they helped him find additional financial resources.

    “UW showed up in a huge way that allowed me to continue to stay in school and afford college,” he says. “I can’t thank those people enough because they were monumental in supporting and encouraging me and getting me to where I am.”

    Thanks to their help, Walker went on to accomplish great things at UW. He graduated with a psychology major and minors in honors and statistics. With several Department of Psychology professors, Walker conducted undergraduate research. He researched post-traumatic risk factors in cognition and intergenerational trauma, negative health outcomes of loneliness, and parents’ willingness to use various services and medications for their children. He found his professors’ support and mentorship invaluable.

    The McNair Scholars Program also proved instrumental. “I can’t say enough good things about the program,” he says. “It was so crucial to everything I got to do — from research to getting me ready for grad school.”

    His fraternity brothers at Alpha Sigma Phi rounded out his support system at UW.

    “College is about self-discovery and finding what you’re interested in, what excites you and encourages you to dive in headfirst,” Walker says. “Coming into college is intimidating, especially as a first-generation student. Once I realized to just be me, it was so much easier.”

    He encourages incoming students to try new things and lean on family, friends and UW resources. That recipe helped him on his journey to Oklahoma State University where he’s now earning his degree in clinical psychology with the ultimate goal of becoming a university president.

    Johnathan’s Tips

    • It’s OK not to know your major or career plans — college is a time to explore.
    • Get out there and try new things!
    • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
    • Why UW? “At UW, they care about you as a human being. I have friends at many other colleges, and they just feel like a number. Here, the professors want to know your name. They want to know about you. They want to encourage you. I find that to be wicked important in the success of a college career because it really takes a team. UW provides that team and family.”


    two women talking in a hallway
    Anastasiia Pereverten speaks with Katrina Fotovat, principal deputy director for the secretary of state’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, during her internship in Washington, D.C. (Courtesy photo)
    International Student and Advocate

    By UW student intern Jocelyn Petersen

    In spring 2022, Anastasiia Pereverten’s life changed dramatically. What started when she left her home in Ukraine to study abroad for a semester at UW quickly made her a bystander to the atrocities happening at home.

    Pereverten reflected on her initial reaction to the news of war breaking out between Russia and Ukraine — insurmountable fear and uncertainty and worry for her family and loved ones as they navigated their new realities. It was the feeling of being completely out of control. Pereverten quickly set her sights on what she could change and could control.

    “Right here and right now,” she concentrated on spreading awareness — helping people understand the details behind the war and the importance of standing alongside Ukrainians.

    Now Pereverten is a full-time student at UW majoring in international studies and plans to graduate in May. Last summer, she secured an internship in Washington, D.C., at a foreign policy think tank.

    “On the side, I was trying to personally advocate for Ukraine,” she explains. “I met with Sens. Barrasso and Lummis, and I participated in a Ukraine Advocate Action Summit. We held congressional meetings to stress the importance of providing Ukraine with financial and security support.”

    Pereverten says she continues to work to deepen her knowledge, utilizing her honors minor to continue her research on Ukrainian public policy through her capstone project.

    She recommends internships as an ideal way to prepare to enter the workforce and to find out which career path is right for you. In addition to the summer internship position in Washington, D.C., during this spring semester she interned with the Honors College as a legislative aide at the Wyoming House of Representatives. Pereverten is using the knowledge she gains to help define her professional trajectory.

    “One of the biggest gains is a professional network, people who are open to sharing their experience and giving you advice,” Pereverten says.

    Outside of networking, these internships are also providing perspective on policymaking in international affairs.

    “What influences decision making?” she says. “What kind of research is necessary? What data are gathered? How do people communicate? How are decisions made? It was insightful to see how policymaking is being carried out.”

    Not only has Pereverten felt empowered by what she learned from her internships, but she also found the experiences grew her confidence and that she is a valuable and effective advocate for her country.

    Pereverten will attend Harvard to pursue a master’s degree in Eastern European and Eurasian studies.

    Anastasiia’s Tips

    • Talk to your professors about internship opportunities in your chosen field.
    • Learn from other students, especially students from different places and backgrounds.
    • Know your priorities and let them change. “Keeping a list of priorities in my head for every day/week/month has been the most helpful tool to reduce stress, perform successfully and balance advocacy for Ukraine, class load, campus job, socializing, as well as work on graduate school and internships applications.”
    • Why UW? “At UW, every professor and administrator is truly invested in helping you succeed both academically and professionally. Connection between the university and wider Wyoming community is fascinating, and it increases your platform to make a difference.”


    man standing outside
    Kelly Buchanan on the UW campus in Laramie. (Courtesy photo)
    Seizing Every Opportunity

    By Micaela Myers

    Education abroad tops the list of Kelly Buchanan’s most impactful experiences at UW. It all started freshman year with a trip to Monteverde, Costa Rica.

    “I met a lot of incredibly knowledgeable people from a variety of backgrounds,” says the Sheridan, Wyo., native. “I also gained experience in using camera traps to study terrestrial mammal movement.”

    Buchanan majored in environmental systems science, environment and natural resources, and Spanish. In addition to Costa Rica, he spent a winter J-term studying ecology in Grand Teton National Park.

    “I believe that what I am most proud of from my time at UW is my dedication to my academics and that I have tried to take advantage of every opportunity that has come my way,” Buchanan says. “I believe that the university experience is as valuable as the student wants it to be, but by taking advantage of the opportunities that are available, you may be rewarded with a lot.”

    In addition to academics, he worked as a tutor for Upward Bound, a college preparation program for income-eligible and first-generation high school students.

    “The experiences provided by working with high school students have been invaluable and have increased my interest in the education field,” he says. Buchanan is now pursuing a master’s degree in geospatial information science for a future career in land management.

    Kelly’s Tips

    • Take advantage of opportunities that come your way.
    • Work ahead and learn to stop procrastinating.
    • Why UW? “UW offers extensive amounts of financial aid for study abroad and has a low cost of tuition compared to other four-year universities.”

    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)