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Alumni Spotlight - Kami Jo (Barnes) Danaei

Central Wyoming College


Profile photo of Kami Jo Danaei

Kami Jo (Barnes) Danaei
AA General Studies, AAS Business Office Systems, 2006

Kami Jo (Barnes) Danaei, AA General Studies and AAS Business Office Systems, 2006, is the academic director at the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources. Following her time at CWC, Kami earned her bachelor’s degree in communication (2008) from the University of Idaho. Her master’s degree in communication (2010) and doctoral degree in higher education administration (2018) are both from UW. Of her time at CWC, Kami said: 

I started at Central Wyoming College so wide-eyed and naïve to the college experience. I am a first-generation college student and pretty much everything at CWC was new to me. I knew within six months that I wanted to work in higher education when I finished school. I changed my major to Business Office Systems with the intent of becoming an office associate or administrative assistant at CWC when I graduated. My time spent working as a student worker on campus in Upward Bound, Admissions, the Registrar’s office, and as a resident assistant in housing just continued to confirm my desire to work in higher ed.

One of my favorite things about working in Admissions was giving campus tours to prospective families. I was able to spend an hour talking about the place that changed my life! All these various roles also opened up new worlds and possibilities for my future than I had ever considered in my rural Wyoming high school. I started joining as many clubs as I could balance while working and taking courses. I became involved as a Senator and then became the Senate President, a role I loved and still recommend to students today.

I took a course that fulfilled a general education requirement that changed my life, Interpersonal
Communication with Jane Warren. She called me to her office one day to convince me to change my major and encourage me to continue going to school after CWC. I had never considered seeking a bachelor’s degree. She empowered me and convinced me to add a second associates in Communication and to transfer to a four-year institution. To put it mildly, Jane’s action to have that discussion with me changed the path my entire life would take. She saw something in me and
fostered that growth and curiosity. It is no understatement to say that it is difficult to put into words what CWC means to me. 

CWC changed my entire life. Doors opened to me that were previously closed or completely unknown. I found something I was passionate about and I had a purpose for my life. Thanks to how CWC prepared me as a student, but also as an RA in housing and a higher education professional, I went on to earn my Bachelor’s and Master’s in Communication and my Doctoral degree in Higher Educational Administration. At each stage, I credit CWC for preparing me. I learned fundamental skills that I try to instill in my students now. I learned the value of admitting your faults, taking calculated risks, considering something unexplored, and the pride in a good day’s work.

One of my favorite quotes is, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” from Nelson Mandela. I believe any student is capable of anything with enough
determination, perseverance, and a strong support system, like CWC was for me.