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    The Opportunity to Excel

    people in a martial arts class
    Chris Dewey teaches Asian Martial Arts.

    The Honors College, Education Abroad, scholarships and more provide top students the chance to excel at UW.

    By Micaela Myers

    High-achieving students can choose to go anywhere for college, but many select the University of Wyoming due to its incredible support and opportunities, including the Honors College, generous scholarships and Education Abroad. Read on to discover how these offerings attract and retain motivated students.

    Honors College

    The Honors College offers small interdisciplinary classes; increased opportunities for research; travel, internships and conference attendance; plus great housing options and priority registration.

    “I have had many impactful experiences while at UW, but one of the top three is my experience in the Honors College,” says Makayla Kocher of Monument, Colo., who graduated last spring with a degree in English and minors in anthropology, honors and museum studies. She is now pursuing her master’s degree in English at UW. “I can honestly say that being a student in the Honors College allowed me to embrace and develop an interdisciplinary mindset, which has been central to my educational journey. Through the Honors College, I have been able to work as a SOAR mentor, work as an administrative assistant, work with a local editor, and study abroad in Italy and Germany. Being a part of the Honors College has helped me grow as an individual and an intellect.”

    The interdisciplinary approach is something that stands out to honors students and faculty. Courses look at complicated issues from all angles and bring together students from a variety of majors.

    Admitted students can apply to join the Honors College, choosing to earn either a minor in honors or a second major. There are currently around 700 honors students at UW.

    “If students are curious, like to think outside the box and want to meet other really interesting students from across UW, then they should think hard about honors,” says Honors College Dean Peter Parolin. “I also think people should consider honors if they’re interested in resources that will help them live their dreams. We encourage a lot of extraordinary experiences like study abroad, paid internships and capstone projects and have the funds to support them.”

    Then there are the intangibles, such as the strong sense of community. Field trips and excursions are common, as are amazing guest speakers. “For every event we put on, we have food because we really believe people form the truest bonds when they come together over food,” Parolin says. “For a lot of students, honors is a place where they find their people — fellow students who are equally passionate about the subjects they’re studying and the difference they want to make in the world. It’s an excellent community of students. They lift each other up. Our data shows that honors students [on average] graduate a semester faster and with a higher GPA than non-honors students who had the same academic credentials to start with.”

    person sitting and holding a book
    Trustees Scholar Maxwell Radosevich says the scholarship allowed him to focus on his education without financial worries.

    Trustees’ Scholars Award

    Each year, UW selects 100 recipients of the Trustees’ Scholars Award — the premier scholarship for the best and brightest Wyoming high school seniors. Students who receive the Trustees’ Scholars Award earn a four-year scholarship for an undergraduate degree (or up to eight consecutive semesters), including tuition, mandatory fees, university standard double room and board (providing the student resides in university housing and utilizes a meal plan). Recipients are truly impressive, with an average a 3.95 unweighted high school GPA and an average ACT composite score of 32.

    “In Wyoming, we have some incredible high-achieving students who work very hard in the classroom,” says Director of Admissions Shelley Dodd. “A lot of them can choose to attend college anywhere. Colleges want geographic diversity, so they try to attract our high-achieving students. The Trustees’ Scholars Award, plus the faculty they’ll get to work with here and the academic programs, makes a statement to them. It’s also an acknowledgement of all the hard work they’ve done to get to this point.”

    Maxwell Radosevich of Casper was one of those students. He is now a junior majoring in secondary education and biology.

    “Both my parents went to UW, and all three of my siblings also attended UW,” he says. When he earned the Trustees’ Scholars Award, his decision to also attend UW became clear.

    “My brother Ben is a year older than me and is also a Trustees’ Scholar,” Radosevich says.  “I’d seen how much it impacts your life. It’s a very generous scholarship. It really decreases stress on you as a student when you have all these resources, and you don’t have to worry about finances as much. It makes you appreciate Wyoming because of all they do for us. It makes me want to pay them back in some way, whether it’s teaching in Wyoming or something else.”

    Scholars go through a rigorous application and screening process. First they apply, and then a group is chosen for a short answer and resume round. Select students are then invited to campus for in-person interviews. After the selection process has concluded, 100 recipients are offered the award.

    “It amazes me every year to see the caliber of applicants from across the state,” says Director of Scholarships and Financial Aid Anna Terfehr. “Their presence on our campus during the application process is evident and only grows when they choose UW to continue their education. The value of the award is significant, but the return on investment speaks volumes.”

    The Trustees’ is not the only impressive funding opportunity UW offers. In 2020, in addition to many other scholarships and financial aid opportunities, the university began offering the Cowboy Commitment for residents and Brown and Gold Commitment for nonresidents. Both commitments are merit-based pledges that are renewable. They are funded from number of sources, including scholarships established by donors.

    In addition, UW remains one of the best values in higher education.

    “We have incredible students across the state,” Dodd says. “We’re so fortunate when they chose UW. It speaks to the students and families but also to the impressive education Wyoming offers, not just at the college level, but from elementary school on. It’s a great thing to see when we welcome these students to UW.”

    woman posing with a camel
    Maeve Knepper studied abroad in Morocco (pictured) and Jordan and is now studying Arabic in Oman. Courtesy photo

    Education Abroad

    UW students partake in amazing experiences the world over, thanks to a robust Education Abroad program. Students can study abroad on faculty-led programs or participate in semester exchanges. Experiences take place over breaks, for a semester or even an academic year. UW’s Education Abroad program holds one of the nation’s largest study-abroad endowments of any public land grant university, thanks to the Richard B. and Lynne V. Cheney Study Abroad Scholarship Endowment. This robust funding makes education abroad affordable.

    Maeve Knepper of Cheyenne, Wyo., says her most meaningful experiences at UW all involved experiential learning, including education abroad. “Top of the list would have to be the semester exchange program I did at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco,” says Knepper, who graduated spring 2023 with degrees in economics and international studies, with an honors minor. She also earned funding from the Center for Global Studies and the Honors College to travel to Jordan for three weeks, studying the impacts of water scarcity for her honors capstone.

    In addition, Knepper took part in UW’s Summer Undergraduate Research in Economics Program, where she conducted her own research on what’s known as a resource curse — a wealth of natural resources but limited growth — in oil-producing countries. “I learned a lot about what economics research entails, which was very significant in shaping my long-term interest in natural resource economics,” Knepper says.

    “This year I am studying Arabic in Oman on a Boren Scholarship from the U.S. Department of Defense,” she says. “Following this, I plan to attend graduate school for economics and pursue a career in development related to the Middle East and North Africa.”

    Knepper was among 30 students nationwide selected to receive the prestigious USAID Donald M. Payne International Development Graduate Fellowship. She will be a Foreign Service officer with USAID following graduate school and hopes to serve as a humanitarian assistance officer.

    Fulbright Scholars

    In addition to the programs highlighted here, UW offers many other opportunities for students to excel inside the classroom and out. You can read about a number of those opportunities throughout this issue of the magazine.

    For example, UW students can also apply for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, which expands perspectives through academic and professional advancement and cross-cultural dialogue. In partnership with more than 140 countries worldwide, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers opportunities in all academic disciplines to passionate and accomplished graduating college seniors, graduate students and young professionals from all backgrounds. Program participants pursue graduate study, conduct research or teach English abroad.

    Making Headlines

    • UW students and programs regularly make the news for their outstanding accomplishments. Here are some of the latest headlines:
    • This spring semester, 11 UW students — nearly double the number in the previous semester — are funding their study-abroad experiences through the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program.
    • UW’s Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing’s RN to BSN Program was recently recognized by as one of the best in the Mountain West region.
    • For the fourth straight year, the UW’s Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center was a recipient of the 2023 Campus Prevention Network Seal of Prevention.
    • Laramie itself ranked as the nation’s sixth-best small college city in a new list released by the personal finance website WalletHub.
    • UW statistics graduate student Allie Midkiff from Liberty, Mo., recently was named the winner of the Lyman and Margie McDonald Research Award for Quantitative Analysis in Wildlife, which will help support her continued research in the field of wildlife ecology.

    Contact Us

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

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