Sixteen years ago, an unsure Amy Strickland packed her bags to move across the country to attend Central Wyoming College in Riverton.
The Cleveland, Ohio, native had visited Wyoming many times but wasn't certain if she was ready to move that far from home.
"My father had always hunted in Wyoming and really loved the area, so I thought I would check it out," Strickland said. "I didn't know what I wanted to do for sure. I loved horses, but I wasn't quite sure that was what I wanted to do as a career."
With CWC, Strickland had the opportunity to take classes, live in her own apartment on campus, and work as the weekend attendant at the equine center. She took several equine classes taught by Patti Stalley.
"Patti ran a good program," Strickland said. "I really enjoyed the textbook learning. I use it every day with my horses at the ranch now."
After her time at CWC Strickland went on to earn a chemical engineering degree from Oklahoma State University.She felt fortunate that she found CWC early in life while she was able to search for her professional and academic focus.
"I can't stress enough to people how important it is to attend a community college first. I honestly see more value in doing something like that before you are sure. You can dig yourself a big hole money-wise before you know what you want," Strickland said.
Strickland utilizes her equine knowledge every day managing 24 head of horses with her husband on their ranch near Casper, while maintaining an additional professional career as a chemical engineer.
She works out of their home as a project engineer in the energy industry. Strickland said she is thankful for the foundational knowledge she obtained at her first college 16 years ago and said it comes in handy with her horse business.
"I learned a lot from my professors and the people I worked with at CWC," Strickland said. "Mike Donelson, CWC equine facilities manager, taught me a lot.
"I had never operated feeding equipment or machinery, and Mike taught me practical skills in how to use equipment that I use on the ranch to this very day. I still communicate with him on a regular basis."
Strickland said choosing a community worked well for her.
"My tastes kind of changed along the way, it was nice to get several years completed at CWC where it was affordable before I decided what I ultimately wanted to major in for my career," Strickland said.