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Central Wyoming College Announces Roanhorse as Student of the Year

Central Wyoming College


Photo of Brian Roanhorse

Brian Roanhorse, 2023-24 Student of the Year

Central Wyoming College is pleased to announce Brian Roanhorse the 2023-24 Student of the Year. Roanhorse returned to school in his 30s for the film program.

“It’s a special medium that combines so many arts; it is a great way to express yourself,” says Roanhorse. “I just went for it and it was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made.” 

“Brian has been consistently curious, creative, hard-working and a huge asset to the film program since his arrival last year,” says Jeremy Nielsen, Professor of Film. “He is supportive of his classmates and inspiring in his creative output. When he is around things are better. When he is missing, he is missed.”

Roanhorse, a member of the Navajo nation, first came to Central Wyoming College eight years ago but it did not work out at the time. In addition to paying off old debt, he had to work himself into financial aid eligibility at the same time he worked in community health outreach for Eastern Shoshone Tribal Health. 

“It’s a challenge,” Roanhorse said of working and going to school at the same time, but noted that Central Wyoming College’s entire faculty and staff have been “super helpful.” He also credits his mother as inspiration and support. She recently earned her degree from Central Wyoming College  and encouraged her children to do the same. Roanhorse is the oldest of five siblings and has faced great sadness from numerous family losses, including his father and others when he was a child.

In addition to earning a high grade point average, “Brian is a hardworking student with a great work ethic and sense of humor,” says Success Coach Alli Calvert. “He is kind to those around him and goes out of his way to help others.” 

After transferring to earn his Bachelor’s degree Roanhorse plans to return and use his skills to tell stories of the Wind River Indian Reservation community. “The big dream is to have a film you pay to go see down at the movie theater.”

“We want to congratulate all of our nominees. It is hard to make a selection from such an outstanding slate,” says Dr. Coralina Daly, Vice President for Student Affairs. 

Drake Simmons, Kendric Muehler, Torry Taylor, Zach Renz, and Felicity Johnstun were also nominated. 


Central Wyoming College’s mission is to transform lives and strengthen communities through learning, leadership and connection. The college includes a main campus in Riverton, an outreach center, the Alpine Science Institute in Lander, and outreach centers in Jackson and Dubois. CWC is a designated Native American Serving Non-Tribal Institution (NASNTI), and serves the largest American Indian student population in the state of Wyoming.