By Lindsey Zamboni-Cutter

W’s up!

With new student orientation kicking off this week, Western welcomes the newest batch of Mountaineers, including the university’s freshman class, slated to graduate in 2027. 

These newly minted Mountaineer students come to Gunnison for a variety of reasons. For many soon-to-be students, twin passions for nature and outdoor recreation were key to their selection.

Another major draw was the small, tight-knit environment that Western offers, including its cozy 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Western’s small size and small classes prove to be a consistent draw for prospective and soon-to-be students, who feel they can connect with their professors more profoundly and ask for any help they may need. 

Incoming freshmen Sawyer Lutz, Andie Moon, and Garrison Unfug are all part of the future community of Western, incoming students excited at the prospect of finding and fostering their community on campus. 

Lutz is coming to Gunnison from Montrose, just about 60 miles west on Highway 50 from Gunnison. He selected Western largely for its small, student-focused environment and attentive faculty. Planning to study computer science, Lutz was also enticed by the university’s new Rady School for Computer Science and Engineering.

Andie Moon is from Issaquah, Washington, northeast of Seattle. Moon is making the substantive trek out to Gunnison to major in exercise science, compete on the Mountaineers Swimming and Diving team, and stoke her love for skiing.

She first considered the school because she was offered a swimming scholarship. During a visit to Gunnison, she quickly fell in love with Western’s friendly student body, faculty, and staff.

Competing at the Division-II level in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC), Western is home to 13 different NCAA teams. Moon will be one of the approximately 350 Mountaineers participating in NCAA athletics (more than 15 percent of the university’s full-time students), in addition to many more students engaged with club sports and intramurals. 

Garrison Unfug is another ardent skier, settling on Western because of the school’s proximity to the slopes. Unfug also appreciates how close Gunnison is to his family in Ridgway, Colorado, and how he was able to transfer over the college credits he completed as a high school student. 

The ability to ski and snowboard at two resorts less than an hour away — Monarch and Crested Butte — remains a tried-and-true recruitment staple for Western.

Just some of Gunnison’s beautiful surroundings, ripe for exploration

That’s not to mention the ample backcountry skiing available to brave students, in addition to a host of camping, hiking, mountaineering, rafting, kayaking, snowshoeing, and trail running prospects near Gunnison, including six wilderness areas within easy driving distance and a national park.

Undoubtedly, a connection to the outdoors is a common theme among incoming Western students. But even more common is the connection students have experienced on their campus visits with the professors, staff, and fellow students within the campus community that they will soon become part of. 

Here’s to the class of 2027. 

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