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“It feels good to be recognized for my strengths by my professors and to receive help in areas where I need it."

For many of the students at Western Colorado University, the college experience directly follows the completion of high school. However, some students deviate from the common path. Eliza Worley-Ekstrom is one of these people.

Worley-Ekstrom moved to Gunnison in 2007. She met so many people who attended Western, she decided to finish her undergraduate degree at the institution. Worley-Ekstrom is majoring in Communication Arts with an emphasis in Strategic Communications and minoring in English. She anticipates graduating in May 2021

“After a 10+ year hiatus from college, I eventually knew I wanted to finish my degree,” she said. “I knew Western was the right choice for me because it is in my backyard. I have heard lots of good things about the school over the years.”

Worley-Ekstrom believes that Western was a good choice for a nontraditional student like herself.

“I am really happy about being at Western,” she said. “It feels good to be recognized for my strengths by my professors and to receive help in areas where I need it. I love to connect with my professors and fellow classmates, even if I am just a few years older than them.”

Worley-Ekstrom grew up in the Midwest, living in Michigan and Wisconsin before coming West.

“I split pretty much equal time between those two places. I claim both because they are both ‘home’ to me,” she said. “I like to say I am from ‘Michi-sconsin.’”

When she is not studying, she enjoys being outdoors.

“I’m a mountain biker and Nordic and alpine skier,” she said. “My newfound love is a spin class I am taking. I also love to cruise around Gunnison on my townie bike.”

While Western is smaller than most other schools, it is a unique place to not only grow in the classroom but grow as a person. “For people thinking about coming to Western,” Worley-Ekstrom said, “I would tell them two very important things, bring a warm jacket and stay for the summer.”

Story by Western student Caitlin Gleason.

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