Pushing Boundaries

02/19/2024 Alumni Spotlight

Warren Miller, an American ski and snowboarding filmmaker famously said, “If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be another year older when you do.” Cheyenne Wuthrich adopted this mindset during her time as a scholar athlete in basketball and track at McMurry and continues to embody the philosophy of seizing opportunities today.

Despite never having tried pole vaulting before because girls were not allowed to at her high school, Wuthrich embraced the opportunity to try it at McMurry. She surprised herself by qualifying for nationals and earning All-American status. Her unexpected success bolsted her self confidence and sparked a lifelong desire to try and learn new things.

When Wuthrich began teaching and coaching after graduation, she felt a strong inclination toward her artistic side, a passion she had long nurtured. Despite her commitments in the classroom and on the field, her passion for art and creativity persisted. She invested in a nice Canon SLR 35mm and an old copy of Photoshop with her college graduation money and proceeded to teach herself how use her SLR camera. After marrying her college sweetheart, Derek Wuthrich ’02, and moving from Seymour to Shamrock for another coaching job, she seized the opportunity to open a small studio in the back of her father’s new homegrown organic cotton products store where she nurtured her craft.  

For a while Wuthrich juggled teaching history, art, and PE, coaching various sports, sponsoring the junior class, advising the yearbook team, leading prom, and managing her burgeoning photography and design business. Soon she knew she was ready to leave coaching and scale back from teaching. When her husband landed a job in Graford she negotiated a half-day art teaching job at the local school, so she could teach in the morning for a regular paycheck and run her business in the second half of the day. 

After a year of intentionally shadowing the photographer the school contracted with for the yearbook, Wuthrich took the terrifying step of leaving teaching and a regular paycheck to become a full-time school photographer herself. It wasn’t long before word of Wuthrich’s talents got out to other schools and they began to reach out and ask her to be their photographer. Now, she is the primary school photographer for seven 1A and 2A schools — Graford, Newcastle, Woodson, Seymour, Archer City, Bryson and Windthorst.  

“I didn’t set out to be a school photographer,” Wuthrich said. “However, I found that having done the job from all sides as a teacher, coach, and yearbook advisor made it the perfect fit for me and my business.”

Wuthrich’s photography business expands beyond school photography and includes real estate photography and various other creative projects. She embraces a self-taught approach that reflects her entrepreneurial spirit and passion for adventure. Her business name, incorporating “& Design,” advertises her desire to accept new creative challenges and opportunities to hone her skills.  

When she isn’t capturing moments behind the lens, creating murals, or designing apparel for events like bike races, Wuthrich is a guide for Fit 4 Adventure, leading active vacations such as trips from the Boston Marathon to cycling cruises in Croatia. 

“The decision to say yes to opportunities has led me to the top of a rock face, a mountain summit, riding my bike through the mountains of Colorado, and cycling around the islands of Croatia,” she said. “It has also led to me leading recreation at Bible Zone at FUMC Graham for 13 years, being part of the planning committees for Possum Pedal and the Trifecta Triathlon at Possum Kingdom Lake, joining the mural committee and the Parks & Recreation Board in Graham, judging the photography competition at the Archer County Stock Show, and most importantly, joining the McMurry Alumni Association Board of Directors.” 

Wuthrich appreciates the flexibility she has to pursue her passions and meet a wide array of people, many of whom have become cherished friends over the years. While she values the autonomy to set her own schedule, vacation time, and work hours, she acknowledges the challenges of running one’s own business, including financial uncertainty and the competitive nature of the creative industry.  

She advises aspiring creatives to remain open-minded about opportunities, even if they initially seem less appealing, as they can provide stability and pave the way for more fulfilling work. 

Wuthrich’s aspirations for the future center around maintaining her cherished independence as a self-employed individual, personal development and self care, and keeping an active lifestyle for as long as she can, including pursuing the unique ambition to break the age division pole vault world record when she’s in her 80s and 90s.

“Never stop following your dreams no matter your age,” Wuthrich emphasized. “I made the decision to stop dreaming and start doing when I was 30 when a high school friend died of cancer, and I realized that your last chance to do that thing you have always wanted to try might have been yesterday. That decision changed my life and I have had some amazing experiences as a result.” 

Wuthrich points out that she would not have had the ability to accomplish any of the listed experiences and accomplishments without the confidence she gained at McMurry and the life experience she gained after. 

“Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone,” Wuthrich advised. “I’m very much an introvert and most things I do are out of my comfort zone but it’s almost always worth it.”