Supporting Minority Students at Central Wyoming College

Information for this profile was provided by Suzanne M (Suki) Smaglik, Central Wyoming College. Information is also available on the program website.

Jump Down To: Context | Keys to Success | Attracting New Students | Supporting Our Majors | Preparing Students for Careers | Additional Information

Central Wyoming College


Central Wyoming College is small (2000), rural community college situated with in the boundaries of Wind River Indian Reservation (WRIR). The WRIR is home to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapahoe tribes. The central campus resides in Riverton, with outreach centers in Lander and Jackson.

We offer several geoscience transfer degrees (AS) as well as applied degrees (AAS), credentials and certificates. Many of our programs have been recently up dated to include a focus on workforce development. The geosciences programs are housed with in the Science department of the Health & Science Division, which also offers programs in biological and physical sciences, nursing and allied health. Our applied programs stem from a community need for trained workers in the oil and gas industry, and are guided by a community advisory board.

Our transfer degrees are oriented to resource and environmental issues. One environmental degree collaborates with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), one of the largest employers in Lander. The number of students choosing one of our programs varies from 30 to three. We are making an effort to increase our recruiting efforts this year.

  • AS - Earth, Energy, Environment - program options: Earth (traditional geology), Energy (oil and gas engineering), Environment (hydrology and environmental geology) and Geographic Information Systems.
  • AS - Environmental Science and Leadership - includes a one-semester NOLS course
  • AAS - Environmental Health and Safety - Environmental Technician
Credentials and certificates: Environmental Technician, Water Quality Technician, Health & Safety Technician, Remediation Technician, GIS Technician

Keys to Success

  • We have been relying on fate. Its time for some effort.
  • Individual mentoring is key.
  • Internships and/or research projects are essential.

Attracting New Students

This is a good question. With only 3 of 7 community colleges and one state university offering any geoscience courses, we should have robust programs. Instead, we struggle with low numbers in all of our courses. We are betting that our new program reorganizations and a commitment from our administration for recruiting will increase our numbers. Most of our Environmental Science and Leadership students find us through their NOLS program.

Supporting Our Majors

Our department is fortunate to have a large number of scholarships available for our students. Most of our majors with GPAs over 3.0 have their academic expenses covered. They can also be employed in our departments and teaching assistants, lab assistants and students researchers. We have a Science, Math & Engineering Club (Sigma "Magma" Epsilon) that encourages students to interact socially and for community service. With small classes and dedicated instructors, students have the academic support they require to successfully complete our programs and become successfully employed.

Preparing Students for Careers

Resource extraction is the dominant industry supporting Wyoming's economy. Our programs are well-situated for providing a workforce for oil, gas and mineral extraction, as well as the environmental issues that come along with extracting resources. Most of our applied degree awardees are employed by local agencies (state and federal) or oil and gas extraction companies. Our transfer degree students are successful at completing their bachelor's degree at the University of Wyoming or other institution in surrounding states. After completing their BS and/or MS, they are gainfully employed in their chosen field.

Addition Information

We need little effort in interesting our Indian students in careers in Earth science. Our struggle is helping these students overcome the lack of preparation that they have for doing college-level work. Grade 6-12 pre-college programs exist on the reservation but this has not resulted in students being ready for college life. We continue to look for solutions to help our minority students.

Earth Science Program (Acrobat (PDF) 249kB Feb10 14)
Environmental Science & Leadership (Acrobat (PDF) 252kB Feb10 14)
Environmental Technician Program (Acrobat (PDF) 133kB Feb10 14)