CASPER, Wyo. — Whitney Hill and Wade Holmes look forward to exploring the world together after graduating in the University of Wyoming/Casper College Center class of 2013.
Four years ago, the two became friends in the Casper College chapter of the Christian ministry organization called Campus Ventures. She sang while he played guitar at the gatherings.
Two years ago, he let her know he'd like to be more than friends. But both had plans they knew could change their paths; it would be eight months before they dated. She was heading to Papua New Guinea for a summer ministry trip while he was on his way to perform similar work in central Asia.
“We’ll see if we’re headed in the same direction, and if we are, then we can assume that God has brought us to together, to go together in the journey,” Hill said about their decision at the time.
When they returned, Holmes, from Green River, went to see Hill in her hometown, Gillette, “as fast as I could,” he said. “I was speeding the majority of the time.”
Both returned from their missions wanting to help others overseas.
“We just have a heart for it, so we thought, ‘Why not do it together?’” Hill said.
“Why not?” Holmes said, laughing.
Now they’re planning their wedding for September. Holmes is graduating Thursday with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and Hill with a bachelor's degree in social work. Both are top students. Holmes was awarded the Sue Jorgensen Excellent Student in Education Award this year.
They plan to stay in Casper for a few years, working here and helping lead Campus Ventures.
But both yearn to immerse themselves in another culture and community overseas. They’re not set on a particular locale, but maybe somewhere Holmes can use his fluent Spanish skills and Hill can increase hers.
Hill might decide to work with human-trafficking survivors — “Difficult but rewarding work,” she said.
Both said some of their best memories of college are of people — classmates and teachers.
“They’re willing to put time and effort into not only your education, but you as a person," Hill said. "They really do care about you, and that says a lot about the faculty."
They learned things in classes they’ll carry with them through life, they said.
By playing the role of a social work client in one class, Hill gained a deeper perspective of people in need, such as those caught in the cycle of abuse.
“We were able to become more empathetic from seeing their point of view and what it’s like to come into an office and have to share that with somebody,” Hill said.
Experiences on a trip to Honduras with the UW Medical Brigade not only earned her college credit but also deepened Hill's understanding of people, she said.
Holmes will never forget three words Casper College teacher Thom DeVoogd said the first day of class: “Teaching is learning.”
“It humbles you,” Holmes said. “It puts you in a situation where you don’t know it all, but you’re willing to adapt and learn what else is out there so you can better yourself and your students.”
The couple has traveled as far as Chicago together with Campus Ventures for service and ministry work. They don’t know where they’ll go next, but they know they’ll help others and learn about people and other cultures.
“It rocks our world,” Holmes said. “We like to get our world rocked.”