Welcome to our series, #WHYoming.
We are highlighting people from around our communities and asking them a few questions. We want to learn a little about them and see why they chose this great state to raise their families, start their businesses, or simply to ask — Why Wyoming?
For this week’s #WHYoming, I had a chance to talk with Sierra Nussbaum, a full-time nursing student at the University of Wyoming and swim coach at Green River High School. Sierra moved to Green River during her childhood and easily made a home in this community. Despite leaving to Washington after graduating from Green River High School, she found her way back to Sweetwater County.
During her high school career, Sierra was quite the athlete and had several impressive state performances in both swimming and track and field. Even more than a great athlete, however, she was and is an amazing person (I would know! #ClassOf2013). Sierra is a great example of the strong and incredible women who are raised in Wyoming. Everything Sierra does is to provide a service to others, and her in-progress nursing degree and passion for coaching local high school athletes are proof of that.
Sierra, what do you do for a living?
The last two years I have been a physical therapy technician. Currently, I am a full-time student at the University of Wyoming.
You’re also an assistant swim coach at Green River High School. How long have you been doing that?
I have been coaching high school boys and girls swimming in Green River for three years. Before my coaching career began, I taught swimming lessons on and off for nine years. It has been great to see that some of the kids I taught how to swim are now swimming competitively. I get to coach alongside of my high school swim coaches which has been very rewarding!
What’s the most rewarding part about coaching?
It is very fulfilling to help these athletes set goals and work hard to attain them. The most rewarding thing is the opportunity to make a difference and positively influence their lives.
You’re a full-time student at UW. Can you tell me about that?
I never thought I’d be going back to school, but never say never! I graduated from Washington State University in 2017 with a Bachelors in Exercise Science and a minor in Strength and Conditioning. Shortly after graduating, I moved to Montana where I worked at a hospital. I was having a difficult time gaining ground in the direction I wanted to take my career which is why I made the decision to go back to school and pursue nursing. I moved home and began taking prerequisites and got accepted into the BRAND (Bachelors Reach for Accelerated Nursing Degree) program at UW.
How did you come to the decision to become a nurse?
I decided to pursue nursing because I understand the need for nurses in rural communities. I want to be a part of the change where we bridge the gap of rural communities receiving superior services. I love serving people and I figured there was no better way to do that then become a nurse.
What is something unique about you?
I made a bet 11 years ago to not drink soda! I was also a 2X state champ in the triple jump!
How did you end up in Sweetwater County?
I currently live in Rock Springs, although I was raised in Green River. To be honest I have no idea what brought us here, but I’m glad it did. My mom moved here when I was young shortly after my parents got a divorce and I’ve been here ever since. I was raised in a lot of places and each one brings great meaning to me, but Green River will always be my home.
What do you appreciate most about our community?
I appreciate the support our community provides. Whether it be benefits for troubled families, non-profits, or sports, you can always count on our community to step up without hesitation.
What are some of your hobbies?
When I’m not working, coaching or attending to my studies I like to be in the outdoors or traveling to new places. I enjoy backpacking, camping, hiking, shed hunting, snowboarding, snowmobiling, any and all water activities, and spending time with my boyfriend, Kory, and our three dogs; Aspen, Willow, and Lady. I also value spending quality time with my family and friends.
If you could give one brief piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; accept them, and learn from them. Instead of being fearful of being considered less competent or embarrassed, welcome them as they are a great learning tool.
Where are some of your favorite places to hang out in Sweetwater County?
Growing up my favorite places were the sledding hill on West Teton in Green River, cliff jumping out at buckboard, and late-night malts at Penny’s Diner. Recently, I have grown to enjoy backyard barbecues, and local breweries but floating the Green River will always be a favorite.
Would you rather walk, take a bike, ride a horse, or drive a car?
I would much rather ride horseback. I’ve always enjoyed riding horses. Riding allows me to disconnect from the stressors in life.
What would you sing at karaoke night?
I would not be singing at karaoke night… nice try!
Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?
Reese Witherspoon because she is a strong, successful woman. I think she has a genuine smile and a great personality that would parallel with how I perceive myself.
What is one of your proudest accomplishments?
To date, my proudest accomplishment is being a first-generation college graduate.
Why do you choose to continue living in Wyoming?
There is so much to love about this state but what I love most is the opportunity we have to freely explore on public land. I love the simplicity of living and not having to plan travels around rush hour.