"Don't be afraid to prep yourself and don't worry about not getting the best grades all the time. It is going to be okay!"
Taylar Stagner is a student who began her academic career at Central Wyoming College in Riverton, Wyoming. The Wyoming native sat down with Chris Miller to discuss her future research and career goals, adapting to the culture Laramie, and how the University of Wyoming has helped her on the path to success.
What is your major?
American Studies. Which is the examination of America as a culture. What influences it, what happens with those influences. What things fit together, what things don't. It's very interdisciplinary, which is why I like it.
Is this what you studied at your previous school?
Oh, no. At Central Wyoming College I studied theatre, then I switched to psychology, and then when I transferred here I found the American Studies program.
Why did you choose the University of Wyoming?
Well, it was very close and I am conducting my research on the Wind River Reservation. You also can't beat the price! It is very, very cheap.
What kind of research are you doing?
What is your goal career?
My goal career is going to be a professional student. I am planning on getting my doctorate in American Studies. But, after that I would like to teach at a university or teach at a community college much like Central Wyoming College. I am also very interested in Native American work. I really want to make up a non-profit or be involved with the community. Look at social justice for Native Americans a little bit more, because I feel that they are a horribly under-represented group.
How is the University of Wyoming preparing you for it?
Fairly well. The Cooper House and American Studies program are both very helpful and very personal. I didn't feel like the psychology program was a good fit for me, they are a great program but it was just too big for me. But, I found a really good place in American Studies.
How have you acclimated to Laramie and the University of Wyoming?
I'm involved in the community a lot. I am in a non-profit group. During the summers I try to make every farmer's market. It's just a really beautiful town. A really beautiful community.
Would you say it is a welcoming environment?
At first I was a little trepidatious because it was a lot bigger than any place I had lived before. I think that as soon as I became a little bit more okay with myself I really enjoyed my time here and I did find that it is very welcoming. It was a very nice place for me to find who I was.
What was the biggest shock to you about the university?
I wasn't surprised by much. I did a lot of research beforhand. I had been here before to look at the college. Everything was very transparent and personal, so I wasn't surprised by anything. Which was very nice! It was nice to not be surprised by anything.
Have you benefited from your attendance here?
I think so. I think not worrying about money so much has really opened me up to focus more on my academics. How low stress it is, and how small of a university it is, there isn't a whole lot of competition like you would find at other universities, which I like. It allows me to focus more on personal growth and what I can do, while not worrying about competing with everybody.
Have you encountered any beneficial programs?
The McNair program is the best thing that has happened to me here. McNair is funding my undergraduate research. They're so great. Susan Stoddard is a godsend, and I don't use that word lightly. She works very hard for underprivileged students and I don't think I would be thinking about a doctorate degree if it wasn't for her and the program.
If someone asked you, “Why should I come to UW”, how would you respond?
I think you should go to UW if you want a personal experience. If you want to to have a personal interest in your individual growth and as an academic. If you want to have a one-on-one time with your professors, you can. Most professors, I feel, have been where you are and are super caring. It's just nice to feel like you matter in such a "big" institution. I feel that going anywhere else wouldn't have been as helpful to me.
Do you have any advice you want to give to incoming students?
Being immersed in the culture of Laramie is a good idea. Going downtown, going to see local attractions, realizing that this is a distinct culture that is more than just cowboys. There is a rustic motif, but it is all about community and there is something for everybody downtown and there is something everybody can be a part of outside of the university. Just because it isn't a big town doesn't mean there isn't a lot to offer you.