Southwest Minnesota State University senior Cheyenne Marco said her parents, Damon and Janine Marco, didn't want her name to get confused with other children when she started school.
"My mom liked the sound (of Cheyenne). She likes Native American culture," said Marco, the William Whipple Arts and Humanities Scholarship winner this year.
"My dad has promised me to get a sign from Cheyenne (Wyoming) someday."
This is the 33rd year for the William Whipple Arts and Humanities Scholarship. It is awarded to an academically outstanding junior or senior who shows a commitment to the humanities and a liberal arts education. Students are nominated by faculty members in the areas of art, music, theater, philosophy, literature, creative writing and foreign language.
Marco grew up on a farm near Worthington.
"A poultry farm, first turkeys, and now chickens," she said. "I had a unique perspective on things."
The oldest of three children - thus, an overachiever - she selected SMSU because it wasn't too far from home.
"I'm a real homebody, and it was close to home, so that's nice," she said.
She initially started as an English education major, then switched to a creative writing/literature major.
"I knew I wanted to teach at a post-secondary level. I realized I'd have to go to graduate school anyway, and I wanted to focus more on the creative writing aspect, so I switched," she said.
She took full advantage of PSEO opportunities in Worthington and Minnesota West, and because of the credits she accumulated, entered SMSU as a junior.
"It's been only two years, and it's gone by fast,"?she said.
Marco and the other Whipple Scholarship finalists were honored last Thursday at a reception. She read one of her pieces in which she drew parallels between chickens being loaded on a truck, and the workers putting them there.
Marco has received a lot of help from SMSU faculty along the way.
"You have time to interact with professors, some of the best I've ever come across. No one has ever turned down a request for help. Some have helped with my graduate school applications, my writing," she said.
She cites Professor of English Adrian Louis for his early encouragement, for "believing in me. I'd not be where I am today without him."
English faculty members Dr. Anthony Neil Smith and Judy Wilson also pushed her, sometimes beyond her comfort zone.
"They were great in pushing me, making my stuff better. Professor Smith helps me with more mainstream writing, and Judy has more of a literary taste. Elizabeth Blair introduced me to creative non-fiction, which has been really fun for me," she said.
Her favorite subject matter?
"Crime stories. I also like rural literature, because of my farm background," she said.
Smith is a well-known crime author "and he really keeps me on my toes," she said.
Her least favorite genre? She does not hesitate: "Poetry. I have a hard time with it."
Marco's writing has matured since coming to SMSU.
"Especially my descriptions," she said. "My professors made it clear that I was using too many adverbs and adjectives, that I had to find more concrete ways to describe things."
Currently, her favorite authors include Mary Higgins Clark and Khaled Hosseini.
And while she still enjoys the feel of a book in her hands, she knows that online books and the various instruments used to read them are here to stay.
"I bought a Kindle," she said. "Writing, and the book, have to evolve, and we have to accept technology. If not, we're left in the dust."
She's been accepted to several graduate schools and will likely find herself at the University of South Dakota in the fall.
"I want my writing to help inspire other writers. Since my goal is to teach, I want to help others find their inner writer,"?she said.