Stories of the Class of 2017: Will McShane: Getting into Greeley’s Growth

Will McShane first came to Greeley as a freshman not knowing a lot about a city that he would eventually know more about than he bargained for.

That's because his Honors Program research project ended up being about the city's growth.

McShane said upon arriving in Greeley, he kept hearing rumors and stories about the city, including its rapid growth rate between 1950 and 2000, when its population quadrupled from 20,000 to almost 77,000.

Such a large increase in a short amount of time made him want to understand why Greeley expanded west in the second half of the 20th century and how the expansion affected the population.

Using geographic information system software to quantitatively analyze census data and qualitative analysis of articles from local newspapers and city of Greeley planning documents, McShane reconstructed the historical expansion of Greeley and reactions to that expansion.

He hopes the reconstruction provides insight into past and current trends within the city, including patterns of white flight, suburbanization and downtown decline and resurgence, while providing valuable information for future planning and expansion.

"It made me realize that there's a lot of complicated reasons as to why a city grows the way it does," said McShane.

And while he didn't know a lot about Greeley when he came for a tour of UNC, he knew that he liked what he saw on campus.

"I like that the campus is smaller, but not super small," McShane said.

Plus, it came highly recommended. Both his parents graduated from UNC.

McShane graduated summa cum laude with a double major in History and Geography, and while he said that he learned a lot during his research of Greeley, it wasn't a main reason for why he decided to go to grad school.

After studying abroad in Ireland and working closely with his professors at UNC, McShane discovered a desire to attend grad school so that he's able to complete the goals he has for himself.

He'll attend the National University of Ireland, where he plans to study history. He's currently leaning toward specializing in transnational history.

- Monique Becker, Bachelor's in Journalism, 2017

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