The recipients of the Laurie Lynn Watkins Endowment, from left, Rumi Saruwatari and Francesca Facchini, meet with with Margaret Kinder and Don Kinder, parents of Laurie Lynn Watkins.

ROCK SPRINGS — Western Wyoming Community College awarded two students the Laurie Lynn Watkins Endowment for International Students. The merit-based scholarship fund has awarded a total of $12,000 since 2013.

This year’s recipients are Rumi Saruwatari from Japan, who will be transferring to Minnesota State University – Mankato, and Francesca Facchini from Italy, who will be transferring to South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

The Laurie Lynn Watkins, J.D. Donor Advised Endowment was started by the family of Laurie Watkins in her memory. Laurie began working at Western Wyoming Community College in 1996 as the director of admissions. In 2007 she became the associate vice president of student success.

Laurie was a strong advocate for international students as well as Western. She encouraged many international students to attend Western and took them under her wing once they were on campus. Many international students credited their success at Western to the help they received from Laurie.

“Laurie favored her recruitment work with international students at Western. She would often correspond with potential students for a year prior to their coming to school in Rock Springs, and during that time she would get to know them on a personal level. Many international students select Western because of its affordable tuition; however, Laurie’s genuine interest and commitment to helping them achieve their dreams brought record numbers of international students to our community. Laurie valued her friendship with each student she worked with and she recognized that money was the main obstacle to their success. When Laurie worked at the college there were no scholarships available to international students. Today there are two and one of them bears her name. I’m sure she would be quite pleased and proud of each student receiving those honors,” said Rod Watkins, late husband of Laurie Watkins.

For more information regarding the Laurie Lynn Watkins J.D. Scholarship and other scholarships, please contact Mustang Central at 307-382-1677 or

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