Three favorite daughters of Casper high schools are running, jumping and writing their way into national recognition this month. They are our own superwomen and it’s a thrill to watch them fly.
I no sooner rejoiced over the success of two superstar Casper-native athletes Jerayah Davis and Lauren Taubert than the news came that Nina McConigley is heading to Harvard for a year as a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellow.
What can’t these talented Wyoming women accomplish? All three have won plenty of awards and honors before, but this May marks some high water for each one.
McConigley was chosen as one of the 55 scholars from around the world over approximately 950 applicants who weren’t selected. Only 3.7 percent of the people applying are picked for the class to be Walter Jackson Bate Fellows at Harvard. She teaches creative writing at the University of Wyoming and during her year at Harvard, McConigley will work on a novel about the life of immigrants in rural parts of the West.
The fellowships include scholars, scientists and artists who will work collaboratively on a variety of issues facing the world today. McConigley called the chance to research and “work with some of the top minds in the world” a dream.
She was born in Singapore but grew up in Casper and achieved recognition and awards for her short story collection, “Cowboys and East Indians.” My personal favorite was the book being named one of Oprah Winfrey’s O magazine’s Best Prize-Winning Books in 2014. McConigley’s classes for the UW Honors College include the first-year colloquium, “Indian Short Story,” “The Empire Writes Back” and “Art and Cultural Identity.”
Another Casper high school graduate is making a mark at the University of Wyoming. Jerayah Davis, a Kelly Walsh graduate, was named Outstanding Woman Performer last weekend at the Mountain West Outdoor Track & Field Championships in California. Among her wins were the 100-meter dash (in 11.35 seconds) and the long jump. She also ran the opening leg on the UW 4x100 relay team, which won second place.
Of the team’s 64 points at the meet, Davis accounted for more than a third, 27, of them. Her coach Bryan Berryhill described what Davis accomplished as “one of the most impressive two-day efforts I’ve ever seen at a conference championship.”
Lauren Taubert from Davis’ rival school NCHS already wowed us in April when, as a junior track and field star at Kansas State, she was named Big 12 Athlete of the Week. Now she is ranked 7th in the NCAA rankings in her event, the heptathlon, and has earned her way to the NCAA Championship in June in Austin, Texas.
In a meet last weekend, Taubert placed second in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 58.10 seconds, which qualified her for the NCAA West Regional.
Three women with vastly different talents are making important strides in their fields; it’s a great month to celebrate them.