Mustangs' Coming of Age: A History of Western Wyoming's Two-Year College, The

McCauley, Savannah
Appalled that only 20 percent of the 1957 Rock Springs High School graduates planned to attend college, Wyoming Legislator Elmer Halseth wrote a passionate editorial to the residents of Sweetwater County. In the June 12th edition of the Rock Springs Daily Rocket, he argued that the lack of a local college prevented many Sweetwater County students from advancing in social or economic status. Halseth insisted that depriving the region's youth of this opportunity was fundamentally unjust, and that it was not only the county residents' right, but their moral responsibility to create a place of higher education within the region. This 1957 article started an initiative to charter a regional college in Western Wyoming, and within two years Sweetwater County was home to Western Wyoming Junior College. By 1965, this school transitioned into Western Wyoming Community College and began providing educational opportunities not only to graduating seniors, but also concurrent or dual-credit high-school students and adult non-traditional students. It soon expanded its reach to a larger audience by building a new campus, and adding outreach centers throughout the southwest region of the state. During this growth, Western's employees endeavored to emphasize change and adaptability, while still adhering to their mission of providing quality education at an affordable cost. After six decades, the school has changed its location, mascot, and name, yet still maintained its identity as the community's institution of higher education and center of cultural enrichment.
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