Western’s Outstanding Graduates, Mustang Awards, Scholarships Announced

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At the Student Government Association Awards banquet on Thursday, April 27, Western Wyoming Community College (Western) announced three Outstanding Graduates, Mustang Awards, and scholarship recipients for 2023-2024.   

Western’s Outstanding Graduate is selected by a committee that includes administrators, professionals, faculty, and staff. The nomination criteria and scoring rubric is based on campus involvement, leadership roles, positive impact on other students, and the nominee’s ability to positively represent Western in the future. This year, Western’s committee chose three students for this honor.   

For the 2023-2024 school year, the committee selected Nikaila “Niki” Bell, Alexandra “Alex” Riley, and Victoria Watkins.   

Photo of Niki Bell. She's smiling at the camera and is wearing a green top.

In her nomination, Bell was recognized for her leadership in the classroom and on the field as a forward for Western’s Womens Soccer. Part of her nomination read, “She has been active in numerous campus events, and it seems like she has always been doing something for the college with other students.  She led the initiative to have Calculus III offered in Spring 2023 since it was not going to be offered.” For the past four semesters Bell, a mathematics major, worked with the Peer Tutor Center to tutor fellow students in their math courses. As she joked, “...my brain only speaks two languages, English and math!” Bell will be transferring her associates, and additional credits, to Weber State University as she pursues a future in applied mathematics. In speaking of her designation Bell said, “I didn’t actually expect to get it. ...It felt like a full circle moment that everything I’ve been working towards my whole life, feels like I’ve reached that accomplishment that I didn’t expect to have.”  

Alex Riley, a caucasian women, is smiling for the camer outside. She has her brown hair down and is wearing a black top with gold colored necklace.

Riley has also been a proven leader on campus. Throughout her time at Western she’s actively taken on new roles and responsibilities. She has served on the Student Government Association (SGA) and has been the SGA Vice-President and President. Using her experience Riley helped mentor new SGA members and shared the importance of representing Western’s student body. Part of her nomination reads, “She is intelligent, extremely friendly and has an excellent work ethic.  And beyond her involvement outside the classroom, she is also an excellent student.” She also helped other students as a tutor for economic and accounting classes. When talking about her selection Riley said, “I felt really good. It felt like I was being recognized for everything I’ve done for the community and school.” After graduation Riley will be headed to Pennsylvania for an internship in human resources; come fall she’ll be attending the University of Utah. Thinking about the impact being an Outstanding Graduate will have as she continues her educational journey she said, “It shows me that hard work does pay off. I think that sometimes you think your hard work goes unnoticed. Knowing that it can pay off, and does, is a big deal. 

Victoria Watkins, a caucasian women, stands inside smiling at the camera. She has her curly auborn hair down and is wearing a pink sleeveless blouse.

Watkins, originally from Delta, Colorado, has lived in Rock Springs for the last decade. She always wanted to be a nurse but, “...I never thought I could do it. As I got older, I decided that I should try to do it and see if I can do it, instead of thinking that I can’t.” When reflecting on her time in the program Watkins attributed her success to the time and effort she gave each class. That determination translated to her nomination, “Victoria has been an active participant in several extracurricular activities, including serving as Vice President and President of the Student Nurse Association.  She has led the club’s many community service endeavors....  She is a natural leader who inspires those around her with her enthusiasm, positivity, and dedication.” After graduation Watkins is looking forward to two things, free time and applying the skills she’s learned from Western. In the future she hopes to take additional coursework in Advanced Critical Life Support (ACLS) and Pediatric Critical Life Support (PCLS) to transition and be an Emergency Room Nurse. Her advice for others is, “Even when times feel tough and you can’t do it, take a break, take a step back and a couple deep breaths and get back into it. You can do it. It may seem impossible at first, but nothing is impossible.” 

Western’s 2023 graduates will be honored at the Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 12 at 5PM in the Rushmore Gym. For details, visit westernwyoming.edu/commencement. The Nurse Pinning ceremony will be held on the same day, at 1:00 PM in the Theatre.   

To learn more about Western students who received awards, scholarships, and honor roll, please visit the Mustang Awards page at westernwyoming.edu/awards. Note, Western's honor roll for spring semester will be published May 22 on this page once final grades are submitted.   

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