SHERIDAN — Ever since she was a little girl, Madison Gosney dreamed of being a veterinarian.
Her mom encouraged her, telling her to take every opportunity she could to get ahead. Madison’s was a dream that would take hard work and dedication, her mom said.
Gosney grew up in rural Wyoming and is one of 12 seniors graduating with the class of 2021 at Kaycee High School. Because of strong partnerships between her high school and the Northern Wyoming Community College District, Gosney has earned nearly all the credits necessary to consider her freshman year in college complete, without even graduating high school or leaving her hometown.
“I live in Kaycee and it’s a very small town,” Gosney said. “Since I was very, very young, I had the dream to become a veterinarian. I know it’s a lot of school and my mom encouraged me to get a jump on it early. She told me to get some of the pre-reqs out of the way.”
KHS Counselor Dana George said NWCCD opens online classes to every junior and every senior at the high school, and sends a liaison to Kaycee each year to help enroll new students.
“When they said I could take college classes, I was like, ‘Great! Sign me up for all of them,’” Gosney said. “I realized that wasn’t really realistic, but I started out with as many as I could.”
Her college coursework included English 1010, pre-calculus and calculus and classes on government, philosophy and women’s studies.
“I really liked philosophy because it opened my mind’s eye to some of those ideas you don’t get to hear about in a small town,” Gosney said. “They were some very interesting classes, and it really showed me that I am going to have to work very hard in college.”
But Gosney is no stranger to hard work, and it’s paid off. According to George, Gosney was awarded every national scholarship she applied for and has earned more than 30 college credits from Sheridan College.
She’s also not the only Kaycee High School student to benefit from the school’s relationship with the NWCCD, with its main campus in Sheridan and a satellite campus in Buffalo. Five of the seniors in Gosney’s graduating class have taken online classes through Sheridan College, and many have participated in certificate programming through the college.
“There are schools that can really help kids earn a certificate before graduation, like a CNA or CDL, but we aren’t great in that area because we are so rural,” George said. “But we have 10 kids in the (Sheridan College) CNA course, juniors and seniors. Sheridan College worked great with us on that. The professor came here and she was very accommodating.”
Gosney said all the professors she’s had have been helpful and truly cared about her success, even though she was miles away and in high school.
“All the professors that I have had are so nice. They will do anything to help you out,” she said.
Students in rural Wyoming shouldn’t miss out on the opportunities afforded kids in bigger communities, George said.
“We want kids in Kaycee to have the same opportunities as Buffalo kids and the Sheridan kids,” George said. “And every opportunity that they have comes from Sheridan or in an online platform.”
Walter Tribley, NWCCD president, said that the community college mission is about providing access to higher education. The NWCCD serves an area that includes 11,000 square miles, which can be challenging at times.
“Students like Madison remind us of the possibilities. Her hard work and tenacity paid off, and it really is a shining example of the benefits our college provides to the residents of northern Wyoming,” Tribley said. “We are so proud of Ms. Gosney and appreciative to the many individuals that supported her along the way to accomplish all that she has. No doubt she will continue to experience success as she pursues her future educational goals.”
Gosney will attend Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, in the fall and plans to major in microbiology. That will provide a pathway to the university’s veterinary school and to Gosney’s dream job.
At KHS, students are given 50-minute class periods during the school day to complete college course work and sometimes work on additional classes at night or after school. When Gosney chose CSU, she simply sent the school her transcript and waited for her credits to be approved.
“All of my college credits transferred from Sheridan to CSU. That is huge, because that is basically my freshman year done already,” Gosney said. “That was super great. I was so happy about that. I sent them my transcript and I logged into my portal online to see which transferred, and they were all there. I was like, ‘Wow, that was so easy,’ because I thought I might have to fight for some of them, but they all transferred.
“It means that all these last three years were not for naught,” she said.
In addition to earning college credits, George said that her students have gained a confidence she hopes they will take to college from their experiences with Sheridan College.
“Madison is very well-spoken, and what I’ve seen with other kids taking these online classes is that they’ve learned to communicate with professors,” George said. “In the beginning, they were super nervous. They didn’t know how to email a professor … but their communication skills have grown so much, and they are more confident. I’m hoping that will help them when they do go on to college.”