Western Wyoming College recently celebrated its 60th anniversary. As an alumna, I wish I was able to partake in the celebration. I did, however, attend the 50th anniversary celebration 10 years ago and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
I am the second of three generations in my family who have attended Western.
My Uncle Jack Brown was among one of the first classes to graduate in 1965, back when the college was in Reliance. He later taught computers at the college for several years. I was even a student of his at one point.
One of my sisters and I attended Western together, and both lived in the dorms. Back then there were the three original dorms, simply named Dorm 1, Dorm 2 and Dorm 3. I first lived in Dorm 3, and then later moved to Dorm 1. My last semester that I lived in the dorms, I did move to the newly built fourth dorm It was the only time in my life where I was the very first person to live in a space.
While living in Dorm 1, I was roomed with an exchange student from Japan, Toyoko Yabuki, who went by Toy. Toy and I became fast friends, and I would take her to different parts of Sweetwater County, Salt Lake City, and also the loop tour around Flaming Gorge. We also discovered the Rock Springs nightlife at that time. Coming from Tokyo, Rock Springs was a culture shock for her, but she enjoyed her time here.
I found a few other friends that I was close to. One was an acquaintance of mine from high school, who later became my best friend; roommate in a couple of apartments; partner in crime, as we used to say; and later maid of honor at my wedding. A couple others were study partners who I would study with at one of their houses and also go for coffee after evening classes.
I graduated in 1990, after attending Western both full-time and part-time, off and on since 1983. I received my Associates of Arts in business administration/accounting. I began as a computer program student, changing majors after my first semester.
One of my nephew also attended Western before transferring to the University of Wyoming.
Western was a great experience. I attended during the time of their huge remodel from three separate buildings, which included the main building, library building and student center — to the large structure it is today. It was an interesting time attending classes during the construction. We would walk down from our dorms one direction, and when we went back, barriers would direct us in a totally different direction. You never knew where you were going to enter your classrooms at.
I graduated as a Spartan. However, in 2006, the college changed its mascot to the Mustangs. I was not happy about the change. A few years later, when I interviewed Jackie Freeze, who was instrumental in the change, I mentioned my objection to her and she said that she had graduated as a Spartan as well. Then she asked me, “How many Spartans have you ran across in Sweetwater County?” She went on to say that Mustangs are much more representative of this area, which made me think, and I do now agree with the change. Making the change even more palatable is the gorgeous statue “Pride, Strength, Perseverance: The Spirit of Western,” which stands at the front entrance of the college. The statue was created and constructed by former Green River High School art instructor Rudy Gunter, and was unveiled during the 50th celebration. That sealed the deal for me.
Western began in 1959 with evening classes in the Rock Springs Senior High School building with 40 students and five faculty. In 1960, it moved to Reliance with 60 students enrolled. In 1969, the college moved to its present location. In 1983, the college broke ground on the Green River campus. Today, the college offers more than 60 degree pathways, more than 30 certificate offerings, and more than 80 full-time faculty.
Western Wyoming Community College is a very special part of Sweetwater County. I encourage anyone to take even just one class, just to give yourself the experience. My time spent at Western holds such fond memories for me, and knowing that I carried on a family legacy, which has since been passed to the next generation of my family, makes it even sweeter.
Connie Wilcox-Timar is the lifestyles reporter and community news. She can be reached at email@example.com.