Maverick Moments

These stories highlight students, faculty, staff, and/or events from Student Affairs Offices fostering big ideas and real-world thinking on campus and in the community.

Reece Hemmesch speaking at graduation ceremony

As another school year comes to an end, we say farewell to the students graduating. Each and every student at Minnesota State University, Mankato leaves an impression on the students, faculty and staff staying behind. Through involvement in the classroom and extracurricular activities, students are able to find a sense of community. Reece Hemmesch, a Mass Media and History double major, found an outlet for his passions by writing for the on-campus newspaper, The Reporter.

During Hemmesch’s time at Minnesota State Mankato and his appointment to The Reporter, he was able to grow and develop in a ways he wasn’t even aware of. In addition, he grew to appreciate and love Minnesota State Mankato and the greater Mankato community. “I had a tremendous experience,” he says. “It was one of the best decisions”. I have ever made.

However, Hemmesch’s experience did not come without hardships.

One challenge Hemmesch faced was his appointment to Editor-in-Chief. It was a difficult role to transition into after only having experience in writing and editing for one of the sections. After some reflection, he realized he was “able to push through it all [… and] end my tenure as a media leader on campus whose voice would be heard all throughout with every newspaper that was turned out.”

Hemmesch truly valued his experience with The Reporter and hopes that anyone who “was affiliated with our newspaper or gave it a read every Tuesday and Thursday saw me as a kid who worked hard with every issue to give the students of Minnesota State Mankato something informative and pertinent to read while also giving them a voice to share their ideas.”

Hemmesch graduated from Minnesota State Mankato on May 10th and moved to St. Cloud, where he will be working as a media relations intern for the St. Cloud Rox, a collegiate summer baseball team. This is one example of many of students at Minnesota State Mankato who are pursuing big ideas with their real-world experience. After the summer, Hemmesch plans to pursue a career in the sports industry, where he can continue to write. He is ready and excited to take what ever curve ball life pitches to him next.

This story highlights students, faculty, staff, and/or events from Student Affairs Offices fostering big ideas and real-world thinking on campus and in the community.

Orientation Peer Assistants group photo

From left to right: Becky Osborn, Anna Haywood, MacKenzie Becker and Zoey Smith.

Summer is in full swing at Minnesota State University, Mankato. In spite of the rainy couple of weeks, students around campus are being active outdoors, training for upcoming sporting seasons, taking a few credits or assisting with New Student Orientation. Throughout the summer, various groups of new faces visit campus as they prepare for their transition to college. As some of you may recall, orientation is an overwhelming and exciting experience. At Minnesota State Mankato, the Orientation Peer Assistants (OPAs) lead and guide the orientation programs for new students and their parents. One senior, MacKenzie Becker, has thoroughly enjoyed her experience as an OPA because she is able to help students make the transition to campus.

The OPAs are constantly on the go during the orientation sessions. Throughout the summer, OPAs lead thousands of students through one and two-day orientations. During the orientation days, OPAs assist in current student and faculty panels for incoming students and their families. In addition, OPAs will host small group activities for the incoming students to get to know one another. For example, incoming students who stay overnight during orientation will partake in rec night where the OPAs lead friendly matches of dodge ball and other games.

During orientation, OPAs work around the clock to create a welcoming and warm environment for incoming students to feel connected. Becker says that it’s “great to be a resource and help influence new students” coming to Minnesota State Mankato.

Becker, a Mass Media major, was encouraged to apply to become an OPA because of her own experience transitioning to Minnesota State Mankato. She has enjoyed her OPA experience because she “loves working with people and helping them in any way she can.”

Becker was undecided about what major she wanted to pursue when she first came to Minnesota State Mankato. Because she had no idea what majors to even explore, her registration advisor encouraged her to sign up for the First Year Experience course. During this course, she was connected to her undecided advisor, Sara Granberg-Rademacker. With Granberg-Rademaker’s help, Becker started exploring various resources around campus to help narrow her interests.

In the spring of Becker’s second year, she came across Disney College Program, an internship program at Disney’s Corporate Headquarters in Orlando, Fla. After going through the competitive interview process and being hired as an intern, Becker completed her internship with Disney last spring. From January to May, Becker assisted in attraction operations, guest services, and daily operations.

As Becker moves towards graduation this upcoming December, she would love to go back to Disney and continue working in the Public Relations realm. Becker believes her experience as an OPA at Minnesota State Mankato will help develop transferrable skills that will carry into her professional career.

This story highlights students, faculty, staff, and/or events from Student Affairs Offices fostering big ideas and real-world thinking on campus and in the community.

From left to right: Becky Osborn, Anna Haywood, MacKenzie Becker and Zoey Smith

From left to right: Becky Osborn, Anna Haywood, MacKenzie Becker and Zoey Smith.

Ben Shakespear, a native of Sydney Australia, moved to Minnesota three years ago to enroll at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Although Shakespear is a long way from home, he has made a home here at Minnesota State Mankato.

Political Science major with a nonprofit leadership minor. Shakespear has become active in the international community, the Minnesota State Student Association (MSSA) and Greek organizations— all of which have provided practical learning experiences outside of the classroom.

Shakespear chose Minnesota State Mankato because of its thriving international student population and because of the Cultural Contribution Scholarship that is awarded to all international students who are able to maintain a 2.5 GPA and complete 25 hours of service hours to the local community each semester.

In addition to his involvement among the international community, Shakespear has been involved in MSSA for the last three years. He’s served as Senator, Vice-President and in 2014-15, he will be the Speaker of the Student Association. “A lot of people hear the words ‘student government’ and cringe,” Shakespear says. “But in all honesty this organization does some amazing things for students, including a free attorney during the school year, a rental textbook program, and a rental car service.”

Becker was undecided about what major she wanted to pursue when she first came to Minnesota State Mankato. Because she had no idea what majors to even explore, her registration advisor encouraged her to sign up for the First Year Experience course. During this course, she was connected to her undecided advisor, Sara Granberg-Rademacker. With Granberg-Rademaker’s help, Becker started exploring various resources around campus to help narrow her interests.

Shakespear’s involvement in MSSA has taught him the importance of civic engagement and advocacy. He has realized that MSSA “has been an extraordinary addition to [his] college experience” because he is able to join “a dedicated group of students lobbying [for their peers] behind the scenes at the administrative, state and federal levels.

Another organization Shakespear has joined is the Sigma Nu fraternity. His involvement with the Greeks has provided him valuable life lessons that can’t be learned from a textbook. He has been able to endure lessons and experiences of leadership, academics and social skills the life-long friends.

Shakespear can already see that his involvement in many different organizations on campus has impacted his experience at Minnesota State Mankato as well as his personal development. As he considers finishing his studies in the near future and what it will mean to be an alum of Minnesota State Mankato, he also sees how important alumni are to the University. “To the Alumni, thank you for what you have already done and what you will do in the future for this great institution,” Shakespear says. “The recent future has seen what started as a small teacher’s college and has expanded to become the top public university in the state of Minnesota, none of which could not have been achieved without all of you.”

Shakespear also has a message to share with the incoming students: “You are yet to realize what a fantastic University this is but you soon will, he says. “Minnesota State Mankato gives you the opportunity to join one (or more) of more than 230 registered student organizations, watch Division I hockey at its best, advocate, be a part of a massive social force with the Women’s and LGBT centers, find yourself, fall in love… and out… and then in again, change your community and the world, participate in a vast array of academic programs with experts from around the world and explore your big ideas with real-world thinking. Jump on every opportunity to serve your fellow students and your community—only then will you get the most out of your education here. Go Mavericks!”

As Shakespear waits for the upcoming academic year to begin, he is starting to look forward to what is yet to come. He mentions that he wants “to squeeze everything out of what’s left of my experience at Minnesota State Mankato—there are so many classes left untaken, so many Maverick victories yet to watch, friends to meet and discussions to enjoy.”

This story highlights students, faculty, staff, and/or events from Student Affairs Offices fostering big ideas and real-world thinking on campus and in the community.

Residential Hall Community Advisors group photo

For most students at Minnesota State University, Mankato, a new school year means a new set of courses with fresh, new faces. However, for Community Advisors (CAs) in the Residential Halls, a new school year means a whole new floor of neighbors and roommates. Amin Jalalzadeh, a third year veteran CA, could not contain his excitement regarding the new group of students on his floor.

The first day Amin arrived on campus, he was welcomed to his room in Crawford Hall with a door tag sharing his name and hometown. As an international student from Iran, this door tag was a great conversation starter with the new peers on his floor. After talking to his CA at the time, Amin appreciated all the knowledge and the experiences his CA shared. In addition, Amin was meeting many international students who were having difficulties adjusting.

Amin’s experience during his first-year on campus influenced his decision to apply to become a CA.

In his third year as a CA, Amin has had a great experience serving as a CA in the Residential Halls. “I rarely go someplace on campus where I do not recognize another person,” he says. “When I do see the people I know, I am excited because it makes me think of the great memories we have shared.”

Another great aspect of being a CA is that “you are constantly learning something new because your floor has individuals with a variety of different backgrounds,” Amin says.

This year, Amin is excited for the group of individuals living on his floor because they get along well, which makes his job easier. Over move-in weekend, Amin posted a list of all the events taking place so those who are interested in partaking could do so together. For example, the Residential Hall Association hosted a volleyball tournament. There was a large showing by the residents on his floor, Amin says it was a great way for them to get to know one another.

Another aspect of Amin’s job is serving as a resource to students. During CA training, the CAs visit various offices on campus so they can learn more about the services offered by each. In turn, Amin is able to share his knowledge and refer students to a specific office that will best serve the need of the student.

Amin is working towards earning a degree in Information Technology (IT) and a minor in Manufacturing Engineering Technology (MET); he plans to continue his education and pursue a masters in IT as well. However, he will forever be grateful for the opportunity to work as a CA at Minnesota State Mankato. He had a wonderful experience and he has made many contacts that he will carry into the next chapter.

This story highlights students, faculty, staff, and/or events from Student Affairs Offices fostering big ideas and real-world thinking on campus and in the community.

Carl Vagle

Transitioning to any new institution can be overwhelming and daunting. Imagine transitioning to four different institutions before finally finding your “home away from home.” Current Minnesota State University, Mankato student Carl Vagle has a story that involves a number of transfers before finally finding his second home at Minnesota State Mankato.

Following high school graduation, Carl, a native from Hermantown, Minnesota, chose to attend Lake Superior Community College to pursue a degree in broadcast journalism. Since he had already earned 28 college credits, he was able to obtain his Associate of Arts degree in just a year. But toward the end of the year, Carl realized that broadcast journalism was not the right path for him.

That realization prompted a quick detour that led him to University of Wisconsin-Superior. At UW-Superior, Carl declared a major in elementary education. In the middle of his first year in Superior, he met a young woman and started dating her, which led to another detour. One important thing Carl notes is that while he was attending both institutions, he was not heavily involved on campus. He was either on campus for classes, working or at home getting together with friends from his hometown.

Carl’s third detour took him to Normandale Community College in the Twin Cities where he persisted toward his degree in elementary education. It was not long, though, before Carl changed his major yet again, this time to business. And by then, he was also no longer in the relationship that had initially brought him to the metro area.

While he was living in the metro area, Carl joined the wait staff at Buffalo Wild Wings in Lakeville. During one of his shifts, a graduate student from the sport management program at Minnesota State Mankato came into the restaurant. Carl started to learn more about the program and fell in love with the idea of it, because it combined two of his passions into one degree.

Carl applied and was accepted into the sport management program, which led to his fourth and final transfer across institutions. Carl shared that his experience has brought him many valuable life lessons.

After getting into the program here at Minnesota State Mankato in the fall of 2013, Carl decided to get involved on campus and the community right away. He’s an Orientation Peer Assistant and a tour guide, a member of Phi Delta Theta, Vets Club and the Sports Management Association. In addition, he holds a few different intramural officiating positions on campus. One of the valuable lessons he shares with incoming students is that “in order to create your second home, you have to get involved.”

One office that Carl has gotten involved with is the Admissions Office, where he serves as a tour guide. He enjoys bringing prospective students around to help them identify what aspects of Minnesota State Mankato could be pertinent to creating their own new home away from home. One point that he shares on all his tours is that “Minnesota State Mankato is a large campus with more than 14,000 undergraduate students, but it has the small campus atmosphere.”

As Carl looks back on his experiences, he realizes that not getting involved on his previous campuses was a mistake. He went to school and then hung out with friends from home instead of making new friends on campus. Now he realizes that his friends from home will always be around—but that they aren’t going to help him create connections on campus.

Carl also learned that you should find a major that you love instead of doing something because of the potential to make money. If you love what you’re doing, he says, it won’t be work. In addition, Carl says, you should never follow a girl around.

Carl is excited for the school year ahead as well as for the opportunities that arise from his involvement in his “second home.”

This story highlights students, faculty, staff, and/or events from Student Affairs Offices fostering big ideas and real-world thinking on campus and in the community.