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.

 “The definition of food insecurity, simply stated, is not knowing where your next meal is coming from. Either you don’t have food for your next meal or money for your next meal,” shared Karen Anderson, assistant director for Community Engagement at Minnesota State University, Mankato. According to Anderson, students don’t always have access to fresh fruits and vegetables and that affects their academics.

“Helping our students have access to food matches the gut-brain connection,” she says. “If you are unable to think because your stomach is growling so much, then you’re not going to be an effective student. So, we want to make sure that those things match up.”

Food insecurity is a common dilemma in the Mankato area. Research by the Minnesota State Mankato Sociology Department indicated as many as 40 percent of university students experience food insecurity. To address this, Campus Cupboard, which is located in the lower level of Crossroads Church, at the intersection of Dillon and Maywood, is dedicated to helping students with food insecurity in the area. Campus Cupboard is open every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for students to stop by during the school year and every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. over the University’s breaks.

When students visit the church, they present a student ID and then they can pack a bag of groceries and personal care items that they need to help them through the week. These items include but are not limited to canned fruits, vegetables and protein, soups, dried pasta and beans, jars of peanut butter and pasta sauces, sugar, spices, condiments, toilet paper, tissues, soap and other hygiene products to help recipients with basic needs for the week. Additionally, students can stop by any time that the church is open and receive rescued food from local restaurants to help them make it to their next meal.

Recently, the Student Government of Minnesota State Mankato proposed the idea to host a food drive competition with Winona State University the week leading up to the Harvest Bowl football game between the two schools. Between Sept. 23 and Sept. 28, students and faculty banded together to fight against food insecurity in our community while fostering some friendly competition for a good cause. In total, Minnesota State Mankato raised 2,200 items and $900 in donations for Campus Cupboard; Winona State University also raised 435 items to give back to their community.

These generous donations will go to students in need to continue the fight against food insecurity in the community. If you are experiencing food insecurity, you are not alone. Anderson encourages everyone to reach out for help when they need it.

“It’s not charity. It’s more like paying it forward,” she says. “Others will help you now. After things look up for you, maybe you can volunteer some time or drop off some food for those who need it.”

Between the work of Campus Cupboard, Karen Anderson, and the Student Government, the community continues to fight against food insecurity together through community effort, but there is always a need for continuous support. To support Campus Cupboard, click here

Campus Kitchen Volunteers

Since 2005, students at Minnesota State University, Mankato have guided Campus Kitchen, a hunger relief project. The Campus Kitchen Project is a national initiative aiming to empower students to take action in their communities while also developing leadership skills. Volunteers eager to support this cause, are lead and trained by our own student staff here on campus. Throughout the academic year, students serve over 1500 hours of service.

So, how does Campus Kitchen work? Starting in August, once students have returned to campus, volunteers help prep the kitchen to get ready for the upcoming year. Once the kitchen is up to code, the student staff launches a weekly, three-day service progression.

On Fridays, volunteers will head out into the community collecting individual and company donations. Student volunteers will stop at restaurants such as Caribou, Chipotle, Long John Silvers, Red Lobster, and Olive Garden to collect excess food. Over the weekend, all the donations are stored in the Kitchen’s freezers. On Mondays, volunteers meet to prepare and assemble the donations into separate meals. Then meals are delivered to ECHO Food Shelf, Partners of Affordable Housing, or individual clients on Tuesdays. Through this process, about 150 meals are delivered each week.

The Campus Kitchen Project logo

Over the years, this program has helped make a significant difference on campus and in the greater Mankato community. Campus Kitchen provides an opportunity for students to connect and build relationships with other students and community members outside of the classroom. Dillon Petrowitz, a senior Urban and Regional Studies major and Community Engagement Leadership Team member, stated, “I thrive on meeting a wide range of volunteers from different countries and having them support Student Driven Hunger Relief efforts".

This project would not be successful without the donations and collaboration of community members and local restaurants. From picking up donations to helping farmers pick fresh produce during harvest, Campus Kitchen volunteers are rescuing nearly 6,000 pounds of food donations every year.

Petrowitz also says, “I enjoy my work in Campus Kitchen because I know I am making a huge impact on the community. The most rewarding part of this work is having validation from clients, community members and the general public for our contributions to making this a better place to live.” Over the life-span of Campus Kitchen, student volunteers have come together to help serve over 80,000 meals to the community.

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.

Career Development Center staff helping a student

Searching for and deciding on a future career can be an overwhelming task for any college student. The Career Development Center (CDC) at Minnesota State University, Mankato prides itself on providing the necessary resources to help students explore their interests and strengths so they can choose a major relevant to their intended career field. In addition, the CDC assists students and alumni during their job/internship search by revising student’s résumés or fine-tuning interview skills.

One resource the CDC offers for students, faculty, staff, alumni, and employers is MavJobs, an online tool to assist individuals and employers during the job search and recruitment process. Individuals can create a profile to specify certain career interest areas, upload résumés and look for currently available positions; employers can post job/internship opportunities and search for résumés. In some cases, that leads to connections that benefit both students and employers.

This fall, Recreation Parks and Leisure Services major Jocelyn Brown activated her MavJobs account. Brown, who also works as a student employee in the CDC helping with web design projects, was encouraged by CDC staff members to upload her résumé to her account. She did so, but then, rarely returned to the MavJobs system and was not contacted through it, either. Because she had already lined up a summer job, she didn’t re-engage with MavJobs this spring. However, early in February, Brown’s summer plans changed thanks to MavJobs.

In February, Browns received an email from the Director of Confidence Learning Center (formerly known as Camp Confidence), who had found her résumé on MavJobs and was impressed with her background. The director felt Brown would be a great fit for their summer internship opportunity, and he asked if she had time to stop by the Summer Job Fair that the CDC was hosting that day to speak with one of the representatives about the opportunity.

After going through the interview process, Brown was offered and accepted an internship opportunity with Confidence Learning Center, a nonprofit organization that hosts events and activities year-round for individuals with developmental disabilities. The mission of the organization is to provide a safe educational environment in which individuals with developmental disabilities can grow and exude confidence.

This summer Brown, who is minoring in Nonprofit Leadership, will have the opportunity to explore many areas of this nonprofit organization. As part of her internship, she will have her hands in program leadership, budgeting, fundraising, promotions and marketing. Brown is particularly excited about “the structure of the board, fundraising, board meetings, how people communicate, budget management, proper maintenance procedures, as well as programs they offer and how they handle standard procedures,” she says. “I am extremely excited about this opportunity!”

Brown, a Brainerd native, recalls attending an event during elementary school at Confidence Learning Center when it was known as Camp Confidence. She has fond memories of that field trip, which was one reason she was to accept the internship position. Brown wants to contribute to the experiences others have at Confidence Learning Center.

Brown is amazed that this opportunity came about because she was encouraged to post her resume to MavJobs. “Just because you don’t need a job [or internship], does not mean that you shouldn’t look, she says. “There are tons of opportunities out there!”

If you would like to learn more about Confidence Learning Center, please visit their website at

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.

Student Health Services received the Underage Drinking Prevention Teen Influence Award

Student Health Services at Minnesota State University, Mankato has developed health education programs to help inform students about the dangers of high risk drinking – including House Party, an annual event that is held each fall. This spring, the House Party event received the Underage Drinking Prevention—Teen Influence Award from the Minnesota Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Chapter.

During the House Party event, students tour an off-campus house to witness mock college party scenarios, each of which is acted out by student volunteers, to help provide a realistic encounter one may have at a house party. After the tour, guides lead students to a “processing” tent where students debrief and discuss their reactions to the party scenarios. Also in the processing tent, volunteers provide statistics and information for students to think about in order to make safe, informed decisions.

Student Health Services partners with Residential Life, LGBT Center, Women’s Center, Health PROs (Peers Reaching Out), Residence Hall Association, Eta Sigma Gamma Health Honorary, Phi Delta Theta fraternity, Mankato Department of Public Safety and Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association to organize and promote House Party. This year, House Party attracted more than 400 attendees, which was the largest crowd in the event’s existence. Katelyn Anderson, a graduate assistant for Student Health Services who assisted in the coordinating of the event, stated, “House Party is a unique and engaging way to educate students on the dangers of high-risk drinking. It was rewarding to see how many students became involved with the planning of and attending this event and how important it is to them.”

Over the past couple of years, the Mankato Department of Public Safety (DPS) has become involved in the planning of House Party as well. In addition, they have invited the greater Mankato community to be involved. House Party provides an opportunity for the campus and the community to connect in an effort to educate one another while also creating a safer community.

“We in the Department of Public Safety look forward to the event each year,” said Commander Matt DuRose. “Often times, our interactions in law enforcement deal with enforcement rather than education; this event allows for the educational component to occur in a positive way … [Mankato DPS] know[s] that enforcement will get us nowhere unless there is education that goes along with it, and House Party is one of those times that we take advantage of the opportunity to encourage and foster good decision making.”

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is a nationally known organization that began in the 1980’s as an effort to increase awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving. Almost 30 years later, MADD is still sharing information about the dangers of drinking and driving, but it has also started focusing on preventing underage drinking with America’s youth.

Each year, the Minnesota MADD chapter hosts an awards banquet to honor those who have helped support the MADD mission and have reached out to educate others. “I’m honored to accept this award on behalf of the University departments, organizations and student volunteers involved with House Party, said health educator Lori Marti. It’s a wonderful, collaborative, educational event.

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.


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.