Senior Aspen Wallace spent her childhood growing up in the Dominican Republic. Then, after moving to the United States and graduating from a Texas high school, she spent a gap year living in Germany and Austria.
Shortly afterward, Aspen's taste for adventure led her to Western.
"I chose Western because of the Mountain Sports program and because of the location. Gunnison is so beautiful, and I love the campus," Aspen said.
Aspen declared a major in Exercise & Sport Science (ESS) with an emphasis in Exercise Science due to her interest in physical activity, coupled with her belief that it's a vital component of health.
"Exercise and being active is so important at any level and encouraging people to be physically active is so important. I feel like I can help educate so many people on the importance of [their] health," she said.
She also met one of her favorite professors, Ryan Weatherwax, through the ESS program.
"He has had such a huge impact on my college career and always gives me advice about life after college," Aspen said.
Aspen also regularly works with graduate students in the High Altitude Performance Lab—Western's premiere exercise physiology facility, which sits 7,750 feet above sea level.
Aspen's studies of physical activities overlap with her exceptional presence on Western's Mountain Sports teams.
She was the first woman to join the Mountain Sports road cycling team, and the first woman from Western to compete in a national competition for road cycling—one of Aspen's favorite memories during her time as a student.
"I loved traveling with our small road team ... we all got to know each other very well," she said. "I also love travelling in the fall to all of the mountain bike races and getting to see parts of Colorado that I had never visited before."
Overall, Aspen noted that Western's small classrooms and caring professors have prepared her for a future in the exercise science field.
"I think Western has prepared me very well for the future [by] offering opportunities to work in real life environments," she said.