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Being a Bear: A Full Circle Moment

HannahGrace posing with her graduation cap with her arm in the air

May 5, 2023

In the early 1990s, Greeley wasn’t the gathering space it is now — filled with breweries, restaurants, and a thriving creative district that draws artists, events and performers for hundreds of performances annually. At that time, the University of Northern Colorado was one of the only gathering places for students. Now, whatever you have an interest in, you’re likely to find it somewhere in town. This is what impressed Rob Thorne, a class of 1992 alumnus, the most about how much the city has grown and changed since his own time at the university. 

Thorne has enjoyed seeing his daughter, Hannah Grace West ‘23, jump into everything Greeley has to offer with both feet. She has immersed herself in every opportunity, from attending athletics events and taking advantage of on-campus activities, to participating in her church. From his perspective as a parent, West’s time at UNC has exceeded his expectations.  

Thorne’s affection for UNC is what piqued West’s interest in attending in the first place. 

“He always spoke about how much he loved the campus and how everyone on staff genuinely cared for each and every student,” West said.  

Having a parent who is an alumnus is a unique experience, allowing West and Thorne to bond over their love for the university. That family legacy allows them to share special moments together.

“One of my favorite days was sitting in the box seats of Nottingham with my family for the Alumni football game. We had so much fun!” West said, reflecting on one of her favorite memories on the UNC campus.

HannahGrace with her family in UNC gear

West with her family

HannahGrace with her family in UNC gear

West with her family

HannahGrace with her family in UNC gear

West with her family

Athletics events permeate West’s education as she graduated this spring with a degree in Sport and Exercise Science. After spraining her ankle badly in high school, the relationship she fostered with the school’s athletic trainer throughout her rehabilitation sparked a love for the profession. 

That’s one of the things she loves about her job now, developing connections with the athletes she works with.  

“My most favorite moments are when my students confide in me and talk to me about the important things in their lives. I've been able to help fix friendship issues and ankles at the same time,” West said. 

With her passion for athletic training as strong as ever, West is returning to UNC to pursue her master’s degree in Athletic Training this fall.  

“I am so excited to be a ‘double Bear’!” West said. “Being accepted into the program was such an accomplishment.”  

During her graduate program, West hopes to mentor undergraduate students pursuing the same career and be someone athletes can turn to when they’re in pain, physically or emotionally, throughout her career. 

West was awarded both the Presidential and Legacy scholarships during her time as an undergraduate, allowing her to focus more on her studies – she’s graduating magna cum laude – and be involved on campus. If you’d like to help contribute to students like West’s pursuit of higher education, please consider making a donation to one of our many scholarship funds.

– written by Tamsin Fleming

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