SHAPING WYOMING'S FUTURE
Annual Student Awards
Congratulations to this year’s Shaping Wyoming’s Future Award winners!
One student was selected from each of Wyoming’s eight community colleges to share their story of determination and success. The Wyoming Business Alliance is recognizing these students for the ways they have been able to transform their lives through their experience with the Wyoming community college system, and how their efforts are shaping the future of Wyoming.
2023 Award winners
Dash Lloyd is one of those people that others are drawn to and enjoy being around because of his thoughtful, compassionate, and easygoing personality. If you ask Dash about someone, he almost always can tell you some fun fact about them because he consistently notices people, asks them how they are, and includes people. He excels academically, with a 3.82 GPA, and he was recently accepted into the nursing program at Casper College. After Casper College, Dash plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Wyoming.
Before college, Dash served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Dash is bilingual, fluent in Spanish and English, and was certified as an instructor of Spanish to English from English Connect. His ability to speak Spanish fluently allows him to serve a broader community, particularly in healthcare settings. He has discussed the need for bilingual phlebotomists in his hometown of Worland, Wyoming, a role he hopes to fill before becoming a full-time nurse. The combination of Dash’s care for those he works with, his commitment to his chosen communities, and his excellence in his academic pursuits is illustrative of the quality of Casper College students.
Central Wyoming College
According to his faculty advisor, “Brian has been consistently curious, creative, hard-working, and a huge asset to the film program since his arrival last year. He is supportive of his classmates and inspiring in his creative output. When he is around things are better. When he is missing, he is missed.” Brian plans to use his skill set to tell the stories of his community, the Wind River Reservation.
Brian is the oldest of five siblings and has faced great sadness from numerous family losses, including his father and others when he was a child. Like many of our nontraditional students, Brian works full time and attends classes full time in order to accomplish his dreams. Upon returning to Central Wyoming College, he has maintained a high GPA and retaken classes from years ago to further improve his GPA and earn scholarships. Brian is a hardworking student with a great work ethic and sense of humor. He is kind to those around him and goes out of his way to help others. CWC is proud to name him Student of the Year.
Eastern Wyoming College
Carly Keller, a Torrington, Wyoming native and a graduate of Southeast High School in Yoder, is a sophomore in EWC’s Veterinary Technology program. She is also a partner at BAST Manufacturing; a company she helped start with friends Clayton Auzqui and Jared Clapper, that manufactures hemp fiber air filters. Her company was one of the winners in the 2022-2023 Goshen County Start-up Challenge. The Challenge is a joint effort between the University of Wyoming’s IMPACT 307 program and Eastern Wyoming College. BAST Manufacturing went on to be the grand prize winner of the UW College of Business’ 23rd annual John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition.
“We are so proud of Carly,” EWC President Jeffry Hawes said. “Her achievements, both in and out of the classroom, is why she has been recognized for this distinguished honor. I am confident that she will do great things after she graduates from EWC and I believe she embodies the best of what the State of Wyoming has to offer.”
Carly is an extraordinary Eastern Wyoming College (EWC) Veterinary Technology Student whose academic excellence has provided for her membership in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and acknowledgment on the President’s Honor Roll. Outside of the classroom, Carly participates on the EWC Show Team, where she shows cattle around the region and nation, and the Veterinary Technology Club, which provides community service projects and volunteer work focusing on professional animal care and health. To enhance her education, Carly works at Goshen Vet Clinic where she is able to utilize the skills and knowledge she is gaining as a stellar sophomore student. It is an honor to have Carly attend EWC. Her smile, attitude, and determination make her an exemplar of students.
Striving for success comes naturally to Nyah Parker and it’s apparent to her instructors at Gillette College. Nominated by two instructors from different departments at GCCD, Nyah is a student whose passion for her future career is evident every time she is in class.
Born and raised in Gillette, Wyoming, Nyah didn’t have to leave home to start her secondary education. Her father, a police officer in Gillette for over 19 years, inspires her in all facets of life, even motivating her to pursue a career in the same field. Working towards her associate’s degree in criminal justice, Nyah is currently a freshman. The High Academic Achievement Scholarship she earned will help her financially before she takes the next step in her education journey. She aims to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, allowing her to have a career as a crime scene analyst, forensic evidence collection expert, or detective.
Her engagement and thoughtful approach to her classwork shows her instructors she will accomplish her academic goals. Nyah’s focus, work ethic, and determination are paving the way for her to be successful in a criminal justice career path.
Laramie County Community College
Applied Science in Applied Management
Sophomore Lilly Navarro is a beacon of inspiration at Laramie County Community College whose journey showcases the transformative power of education and community engagement.
Lilly, a nontraditional student, has her sights set on a Bachelor of Applied Science in Applied Management and serves as LCCC’s Student Government Association vice president.
In her SGA role, Lilly bridges the gap between students and administration as an exceptional advocate. Her role in the student fee fund allocation process demonstrated her commitment to enhancing the student experience. Balancing a 4.0 GPA while facing external challenges, Lilly is considered a model student by her instructors and peers. Her dedication to literature and history inspires peers to diversify their learning horizons.
Lilly’s LCCC experiences align strategically with her career aspirations, whether in her hands-on internship at the Wyoming Legislative Service Office, her leadership roles in clubs, or her networking with local firms.
Looking back on her time at LCCC, Lilly said mentors have helped guide her to accomplishments.
“My pathway coordinator helped funnel me where I needed to go,” she said. “She looked at my strengths and showed me the way to opportunities.”
Jacob Wells originally attended Northwest College on a wrestling scholarship from 2014-15 before leaving school to join the military. Upon completing his service in the United States Army, Jacob later returned to NWC in the spring of 2022 to continue his education, fulfilling a promise he had made seven years earlier. He is now vice president of the NWC Criminal Justice Club, actively assisting with fundraising and membership efforts. Jacob also works part time as a member of the campus security team, assists the faculty in firearms classes, and regularly represents the college at law enforcement functions. He often serves as a mentor for other students in the NWC criminal justice program and is known for his calm and relaxing demeanor, exhibiting all the qualities a community seeks in a law enforcement officer. He is already being recruited by several agencies as he works toward his bachelor’s degree, which he expects to complete in the spring of 2025.
Landry May began as a quiet student at Sheridan College, moving nine hours away from her home town in northwest Montana. She worked hard through high school and received scholarships to help pay for her education. Shortly after she began her studies in the Sheridan College Agriculture Program, her confidence grew as she immersed herself in her classwork and extracurricular activities. Landry joined the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, became an Ag Ambassador, joined the Agriculture Club, and started doing soil microbe research with one of her professors. In the Spring of 2023, Landry was selected as one of only 15 students to receive Phi Theta Kappa’s 2023 Hites Transfer Scholarship. Hites Scholars are selected based on outstanding academic achievement, leadership, and engagement in college and community activities.
Landry graduated from Sheridan College in the Spring of 2023, earning Associate of Science degrees in Ag Business and Plant Sciences. She is continuing her education, seeking her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Plant Production and Protection through the University of Wyoming, while simultaneously working toward an Agritourism degree from Sheridan College.
“Landry takes what she learns and puts it into action,” SC Agriculture Business Instructor Angel Sparkman said. “For instance, we were talking about using waste from production to create new goods. After the wheat harvest, she noticed that the corners were not being cut, so she hand-cut the wheat and used it for bouquets and sold it at the local farmers’ market.”
Sheridan College Agriculture Program Director Mae Smith added, “She has an amazing work ethic, intellectual curiosity, and integrity. Whatever Landry commits to, she does to the best of her ability.”
Western Wyoming Community College
Dalton Stoddard is a sophomore in Western Wyoming Community College’s (Western) nursing program. A Wyoming native, he was born and raised in Mountain View. Upon graduating from Cheyenne Central High School, Dalton received the University of Wyoming’s Trustee scholarship. As a first-generation college student, Dalton was excited to pursue his education and planned on majoring in psychology. But Dalton’s life took an unexpected turn when he witnessed his father suffer a significant accident. Due to this Dalton had to withdraw from his studies at UW and lost the scholarship.
Dalton took his time away to observe his possible future. Considering how he reacted to his father’s accident, he decided to pursue a path leading to nursing. Hearing about Western’s nursing program and its excellent track record, he applied to the program after becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA).
While he lives in Kemmerer, Dalton doesn’t let distance stop him from being engaged with the program and his fellow peers. Associate Professor of Nursing Julie Leavitt credits Dalton with uniting the Student Nursing Association (SNA) at Western, as he aims to make each student feel comfortable and a part of the program, regardless of distance. Dalton’s actions have seen him elected as the SNA Distance Representative and recognized as fully embracing SNA’s mission – to unite students.
Another instructor, Associate Professor of Nursing Shelby Williams, noted that Dalton is not only a high academic achiever but also a natural leader. In the classroom and clinicals, Dalton’s care and concern for patients is evident with his focus on safety, culture, ethics, and health promotion. This is all in addition to his desire to continue learning and drive to continuously improve his skill sets.
Combining his two interests, Dalton plans to become a psychiatric nurse. Mixing two worlds together, he hopes he can have the most impact and positively change the world in one small way.
It’s exciting to recognize these students for their hard work and their dedication to making the most of their time at their community colleges. They are the future of Wyoming.
The students will be recognized during a private reception with the Wyoming Business Alliance on February 12, 2024 and will be introduced during the Joint Legislative Session on February 13, 2024.
2022 Award winners & Reception
Marcela Caballero is a sophomore majoring in accounting at Casper College. While attending Douglas High School, she took a personal finance class and found her love for accounting. “I have put my whole life into school because education is something no one can take away from you,” she said.
Throughout her time at Casper College, Marcela has always had a job. Currently, she works as a teller at Bank of the West in Casper. Recently she was promoted to universal banker. “Whatever I’m learning at Casper College, I’m applying at my job, and whatever I’m learning at my job, I’m applying it at Casper College. I know I got lucky with how things have turned out,” Caballero said.
After earning her AS in accounting, Marcela will work on her bachelor’s degree online through the University of Wyoming.
Mark Oxley, accounting instructor, has been her advisor and instructor for several semesters. He respects “her approach to her academic and career work.” According to Oxley, Marcela, a full-time student, has a 3.6 GPA.
Scholarships Marcella received during the 2021-2022 school year include: Pell Grant, Hathaway, the Zula and Deryl Safford scholarship, and the Hardy and Ione Ratcliff scholarship. For the 2022-2023 school year, she received a Pell Grant.
Central Wyoming College
A lifetime of medical issues exacerbated by stress left Myriah Deckard unsure whether her body could handle nursing school. When the time came, she took a year off to reflect, but friends made her realize that her struggles were an asset. “I want to be like the nurses who changed my life,” Deckerd said, excited about her future of helping people in suffering become advocates for their own health.
At CWC, Deckerd has a 4.0 GPA. She has been instrumental in helping new nursing students find their way. She organized a luncheon to orient students into the program and created a mentoring opportunity so new nursing students could learn from experienced students. For the lab relevant to her issues, Myriah created a personal video going over her experience that led peers to declare it ‘the best lab ever.” She has served as an anatomy and physiology tutor and lab assistant, and she acts as a liaison between students and faculty; faculty report her feedback has led to improvements in the program.
Nominating faculty report that Myriah “is always willing to make time for anyone who asks, she always has a smile or thoughtful facial expression when speaking. She is a great asset to our program and the nursing profession!”
Eastern Wyoming College
Ryan Swan is a sophomore at Eastern Wyoming College who is pursuing a career in a sports medicine-related field, and he is an exceptionally talented student.
Noah Decker, Associate Professor of Biology, teaches anatomy, physiology, and medical microbiology at EWC and has a reputation for running some of the most difficult and demanding courses on our campus. During a lecture, Professor Decker says, “Mr. Swan is my go-to student for answering difficult questions that I pose to the class. I ask questions to the class as a whole during lectures and if no other student volunteers a response, I tend to ask Mr. Swan if he knows the answer. Not surprisingly, he usually does. I consider him to be a leader in the class who sets the tone for students to perform at a high level. He has without question earned the esteem and admiration of his classroom peers. I count him among my most talented students I have had over years at Eastern Wyoming College. He is very quick to learn, his mind is sharp for new ideas and his memory is excellent.”
Ryan also shines on the basketball court. He currently is a starting member of our intercollegiate basketball team, which places heavy physical as well as time demands on him. His ability to balance his sports obligations with his academic duties makes his high grades even more praiseworthy. That he is able to excel in these different areas is a testimony to his natural talent, his persistent hard work and his meticulous time management.
Olivia Wasinger exemplifies Gillette College CORE values every day and she has done so since her first day on campus. Olivia is originally from Buffalo, Wyoming and has been attending Gillette College for two years studying business. She has risen through the ranks in her roles in Campus Life and Housing, starting as a Resident Assistant and quickly moving up to Senior Resident Assistant, all the while maintaining an impressive 3.61 GPA. Not only does she excel in academics and her role as the Senior Resident Assistant, but she also finds time to be the Secretary of the Student Senate, works part time at North Platte Physical Therapy, leads a life group through her church for college-aged students, and continues to show her 4-H animals throughout the summer.
Despite her busy schedule, Olivia always has time to bring joy to any event she is involved in on campus and in the community. She connects with her residents as well as any student on campus by being thoughtful and caring. She demonstrates integrity in all she does and she inspires other students to get involved. Everyone at Gillette College who has the pleasure of knowing Olivia is a much better person because of her influence. Olivia truly represents the best of the best Gillette College has to offer.
Laramie County Community College
Paige Guille is a second-year student at Laramie County Community College (LCCC), pursuing a degree in elementary and early childhood education in the Human & Public Services Pathway. Paige is originally from Cheyenne, Wyoming, and chose to attend LCCC because she was looking for a way to pursue her higher education closer to home and with smaller class sizes.
During her time at the college, Paige has served as a senator in the Student Government Association, is an active member of Phi Theta Kappa, supports the arts through the Cheyenne Little Theater Players, was featured as the Education Student of the Year for 2022 and was also one of two featured students at the 2022 LCCC Foundation’s annual Scholarship Luncheon.
Paige’s passion for education stems from her desire to work with young people, not only in the future, but today. Currently, Paige serves as a teaching assistant for fifth-grade students at the Wyoming STARBASE Academy, a partnership between the Wyoming National Guard and the Wyoming Military Department. At LCCC, Paige helped mentor students who were a part of the Davis First Generation Experience. As one of four students on the Human & Public Services Pathway, Paige actively engages to help industry professionals understand areas of opportunity for LCCC and day-to-day life on campus.
After graduating from LCCC, Paige plans to attend the University of Wyoming to pursue her bachelor’s degree in education.
Criminal Justice + English
Sarah Roberts is a non-traditional student who originally came to Northwest College because of its strong reputation and proximity to her home in Cody. After initially withdrawing from school to start a family, Sarah returned in 2020, feeling it was important to finish what she started, and has now earned two A.S. degrees in Criminal Justice and English. She plans to continue her education by pursuing her B.A.S. in Criminal Justice as well.
Even with her busy class schedule and roles as a wife and mother, Sarah is still among the most active members of the Northwest College student body. She is Vice President of the Student Senate, President of both the Gay Straight Alliance and Criminal Justice Club, and she has served as President of the Trading Card Club. Additionally, she’s been a member of the Japanese Club and works as a peer mentor in the TRiO program while remaining heavily involved in Student Activities.
Exercise Science + Nursing
Eric Trueblood, as a student and a person, is a standard of excellence recognized by faculty, staff, and students. Before and after his military service, Eric attended Sheridan College maintaining above a 3.8 GPA for the entirety of his time in higher education, while also maintaining full-time employment outside of the College. Eric is also a single father of two girls that he is raising in Sheridan. Eric served several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal with Valor and the Purple Heart Medal after enduring life-changing injuries in combat. Even with many outside responsibilities and obstacles, Eric has accomplished what many students could only hope to achieve, including – all with high honors – an Associate of Science in Exercise Science in 2021, a Certificate of Completion Personal Trainer Education in 2021, a Certificate of Completion in Practical Nursing in 2022, and an intention to graduate in 2023 with the Nursing ADN.
His instructors collectively noted, “Eric shows up to both class and clinicals with a willingness to learn and a smile on his face. He is a thoughtful, active learner who exhibits a consistently positive attitude. Eric actively participates as a team member with peers and clinical staff, and he displays professionalism with a desire to continue to grow in the field.”
Western Wyoming Community College
Jose Martinez is a current pre-engineering student at Western Wyoming Community College. As a non-traditional student, Jose entered Western at 24 after almost six years of working in construction. Jose explained he chose Western because, “It was right here in my hometown, and it was affordable. Many high school friends also attended and recommended me to attend because of the one-on-one help from every professor.”
As a first-generation student, Jose had to learn to navigate the college realm without family guidance along with minimal financial support. These hardships haven’t stopped or prevented Jose from helping his fellow Mustangs.
He started in remedial math and has taken practically every math, physics, and engineering course that Western offers. Jose’s GPA is currently 3.65 and he is a peer tutor for math, chemistry, physics, and engineering courses. Western’s Associate Professor of Physics and Engineering Stephen Schutten said, “This is particularly notable, as it is generally very difficult to find any students who can tutor in these technical subjects.”
Jose is also an active member of Engineering Club, serves as a pre-engineering ambassador during Western events, and has been invaluable in helping improve the organization and functionality of the main engineering lab, along with assisting in the creation of new labs.
Following graduation in December, Jose will attend the University of Wyoming and pursue a bachelor’s degree in Engineering.