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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Students Move Back to Campus

More than 2,800 students began moving in to campus residence communities on Thursday, Aug. 25.

Jessica Bies, Mankato Free Press, 8-25-2014

Out of 69 students to graduate from Two Harbors High School this spring, soon-to-be 18-year-old Samantha Etienne said she will be the only one attending Minnesota State University, Mankato.

The first of her family’s four girls to go to college, she said she was drawn to the small campus because of its size. The heat, on the other hand, may be a bit of a downside.

“In Two Harbors right now it’s only in the 60s,” Etienne said, her shoulders sagging as she thought longingly of the Iron Range.

Sandy Etienne plopped a large bag on top of a pile of her daughter’s belongings and stretched her arms. “It’s exciting, but I’m hot,” she said of her first daughter going to college. “It’s been a long day.”

Samantha was just one of 2,800 students to roll up to Minnesota State Mankato Thursday and reluctantly pile out of their parent’s air-conditioned SUVs or mini-vans to lug heavy suitcases and futons across the college’s crowded parking lots. Participating in a decade’s long Minnesota State Mankato tradition — fall move-in day — they grunted and sweated as they struggled to load their things onto small plastic carts and wheel them over to the campus’ residence halls.

Greeting them at the Julia A. Sears Residence Hall was John Seipel, one of the building’s newest community advisers or CAs. He directed the flow of traffic as families flooded into the building, arching their necks to look for the elevator or stairs. Sears Hall holds about 600 students, many of whom arrived Thursday, he said.

Eighty-five percent of new students choose to live on campus – a number that residence life officials say reflects the academic and social advantages of being an on-campus resident.

“It’s going really well,” Seipel said, standing just inside the building’s airconditioned entrance way and waving at the arriving students. “Really smoothly. A fire alarm went off earlier today, but now things are back on track.”

Down the hall and around the corner, waiting in line for the elevator, Saige Wudtke looked only slightly less enthused about the move-in day experience. Standing next to a cart loaded with purple and blue pillows she said she was looking forward to her freshman year at Minnesota State Mankato, during which she will be rooming with her close friend Nichole Christensen.

Both girls are from Litchfield and will be studying nursing.

“I’m excited,” she said. “I chose MSU because it’s close to home, well close enough, and they have a great nursing program.”

Some of the new students were from further away, among them Iowanative Jesse Wiele. It took his family 3.5 hours to get to Mankato, but only 45 minutes to move his stuff in.

That might just be a Sears’ hall record.

“It would have been much longer if we had waited for the elevator,” said Jesse’s sister Hannah, before grabbing a shelf and bolting up the stairs. It was the last thing to be carried up to her brother’s room.

Her father Gary Wiele followed more slowly. This is the fourth student he’s sent off to college and the one to go to school furthest away, he said. The town reminds him and his wife Michelle of Ankeny, the sleepy suburb they live in outside Des Moines — it’s small and it’s quiet.

“I think it’s really nice,” Gary Wiele said smiling. His wife nodded in agreement.

His son Jesse said he chose Minnesota State Mankato despite visiting last year during a snowstorm. He could not tour the campus, but was impressed by its modern facilities. Summer orientation confirmed that he really wanted to come to the school and on Thursday he was already eagerly looking forward to classes.

The entire version of this story can be read in a print copy of the Mankato Free Press. Call the Mankato Free Press at 625-4451 or (800) 657-4662 to find out how to purchase a print copy. The Free Press also prints select stories online at

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