Elwood Announced as 2017 SC Distinguished Alumna


Contact: Wendy Smith Director of Marketing and Public Information, Northern Wyoming Community College District 307-675-0412 | wsmith@sheridan.edu

Devotes 37 years to Sheridan College

Whether it’s welding in her spare time, spending time with her family, or working on mapping intricate data about the Northern Wyoming Community College District, Sheridan College’s 2017 Distinguished Alumni Sharon Elwood has always given the task at hand her all.

Most recently, Elwood served as Dean of Enrollment Services for Sheridan and Gillette Colleges, from August of 2010 until her retirement this spring.

“Sharon is one of the chief reasons that the college is as successful as we are today,” Dr. Paul Young, NWCCD President, says. “Over many years, her non-stop energy and passion for students has powered positive change to improve our systems for recruiting, registering, advising and numerous other areas as well.”

The Sheridan College Distinguished Alumni Award is given to a graduate who exemplifies the college mission by assisting to create student success and making a difference in the community to create educational leadership.

For decades, Elwood has prided herself in efficiently producing data that proves, among other important things, two points: That there is a tangible way to track student success, and that there are numbers that show Sheridan College is a worthwhile recipient of taxpayer dollars.

“You have to be able to tell a story. Numbers help you tell that story,” Sharon says.

Elwood was born and raised in Powell, Wyo., by parents who ran a gas station, a tire shop and other small-town businesses in rural 1960s Wyoming.

“My folks were business people, and they instilled a very strong work ethic in me,” Elwood says.

“For as long as I can remember, my father was a self-employed person, and he maintained an inventory and kept books. I learned the trade as I grew up, and it evolved into what I do now.”

Elwood moved to Sheridan in late 1979, earning an associate of science degree from Sheridan College in the fall of 1985, followed by an associate of arts degree in the spring of 1992.

“College became the place where my work ethic, perseverance and pride in my work, where those core values that my parents taught me took hold,” Sharon says.

Elwood attended the University of Wyoming on a president’s scholarship and graduated from the College of Business in 1994, completing two years of schooling in one year, with her two children, Heather and Brien, in tow.

Elwood was part of the inaugural MBA class to receive instruction via compressed video at Sheridan College, and completed her master’s degree in 1996. She was a member of Phi Theta Kappa at Sheridan College, and Phi Kappa Phi and Beta Gamma Sigma at UW. She was named Outstanding Senior in 1994 and Outstanding Graduate Student in 1996 for the UW College of Business.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Elwood held titles at Sheridan College like Director of Institutional Research—the first position of its kind at any Wyoming community college—and MIS Coordinator, gathering data for the college president and other executive committee officials.

In 2005, Elwood became actively involved with the accreditation process, working with the college president in the development of a shared governance system.

For her peers and employees, her career is an inspiration.

“I have a great amount of respect for Sharon. When I started at the college back in the early 1990s, Sharon was an administrative assistant,” Zane Garstad, Director of College Services says.

“Over the years, through her hard work and dedication, she has reached senior level management status. Her career is an inspiration to everyone and especially to women in the workplace,” Garstad says. “For me personally and professionally, Sharon is a supportive, caring, and conscientious leader. Our college is fortunate to have had a person such as Sharon as a part of our organization.”