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.

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.

Six students posing in purple shirts for photo

Graduate Assistant, Lindsay Brown, Appreciates the Opportunities to Grow As a Student Affairs Professional.

Student Affairs is not necessarily a common profession for undergraduate students to pursue. In most cases, students are unaware of this field and the possibilities it yields. That was certainly the case for Lindsay Brown, a current graduate student in the Counseling and Student Personnel department. It wasn’t until her senior year of college that she identified her passion and interest in Student Affairs and decided to pursue a career in this field.

Lindsay, a chemistry major at the University of Minnesota–Morris, was planning to go to pharmacy school after earning her bachelor’s degree. As an undergraduate, she worked for student activities and became involved on numerous campus committees. She was able to learn about activities and experiences that she could share with students “outside” of the classroom.

At the beginning of her final year at Morris, Lindsay started to ask her mentor in Student Activities more questions about his line of work and the field of Student Affairs. As a result, she attended an undergraduate conference for Careers in Student Affairs hosted by the Minnesota College Personnel Association (MCPA). That conference helped Lindsay confirm what her next steps would be following graduation. She was still going to continue her education, but it was going to happen in another field: Student Affairs.

Before she graduated, Lindsay came to Minnesota State University, Mankato for an on-campus interview with the Counseling and Student Personnel department, which runs the College Student Affairs master’s program. While visiting campus, she was impressed with the professors and the radiating passion for teaching and developing students that radiated from them. Lindsay could also tell that the current students in the program truly enjoyed their experiences, which energized her.

During her graduate school search process, Lindsay knew that graduate school was going to require a large financial commitment. She was hoping to find a graduate assistantship that would provide professional development opportunities and assist with the overall cost. Lindsay was thrilled when she was offered an interview for a graduate assistantship with Residential Life at Minnesota State Mankato.

For the last year and half, Lindsay has moved into the Student Service Coordinator role. Her responsibilities include managing the front desk of McElroy Residential Hall, preparing for residence opening and closing, monitoring security, residential hall occupancy management and providing student enhancement activities.

During the second year of the master’s program, students are required to complete an internship. Lindsay has found her second internship site home in the Office of Student Affairs at Minnesota State Mankato an experience that has given her perspective on a broader spectrum of student affairs issues as well as higher education. She is excited to be working on a sophomore communication project to improve student retention.

In Lindsay’s short time in Mankato, she has had an impact on the students, peers, staff and faculty she works with. Dr. Penny Rosenthal, one of Lindsay’s professors and advisor, states, “Lindsay is one of the most calm and calming College Student Affairs students I have ever met. She is a strong team member who can easily lead or contribute in meaningful ways to a group and a group’s leadership. Lindsay has an exceptional work ethic and consistently produces high quality course work and participates in meaningful ways to class discussions. Finally, it is apparent that Lindsay enjoys her life, school, and work – this makes her a joy to work and laugh with.”

As Lindsay nears graduation and reflects upon her time as a student in the program and as a young professional in the field, she feels that the College Student Affairs master’s program has given her the foundation and knowledge she needs to embark on her professional career. Lindsay also appreciates her graduate assistantship and internship; each of those experiences have given her great experiences that she can bring into her next career move.

As she nears graduation in May, she has started her job search around the Mankato area.

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.

Ashley Brittain

Although Minnesota State University, Mankato may offer prospective students a “homey” feeling during campus visits, it’s usually not until class is in session and students are able to get involved that they are able to find their extended family and start to feel at home on campus.

Ashley Brittain, a native of Waukesha, Wis., visited many college campuses during her college search. When she toured Minnesota State Mankato, she felt the most at home, and when she started as a student she quickly found a “second family” on campus by rushing for a sorority. She’s been surprised by the extent of support and opportunities she’s received as a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma—otherwise known as Tri Sigma.

As a member of Tri Sigma, Ashley has had the opportunity to bond with other members of Greek Life on campus. “As an only child, it was great to have a bunch of sisters and brothers around on campus who were all tied together by a common bond,” she says.

Ashley enjoys meeting new people and being exposed to new opportunities—including being able to hold leadership roles within the sorority.

Those leadership roles have given her the foundation and experience to take on an even larger role within the Greek Life community. Ashley was just appointed to the Panhellenic Council to serve as the Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing. In this role, she will collaborate with her counterpart on the Interfraternity Council. These two councils oversee and provide guidance to all Greek sororities and fraternities.

Together, they will work to market all Greek Life events. In addition, Ashley and her counterpart will work on marketing pieces for next fall’s recruitment and/or other programs, produce Greek Life videos, manage Greek Life social media accounts, distribute the Greek Life newsletter, host round tables, and help where there is need. The goal behind all this work for both officers is to create a supportive and engaged Greek community on campus.

Not only is Ashley excited to help connect the Greek community at Minnesota State Mankato, but also she is also thrilled to be working with the Dance Marathon. This event is a fundraiser that hosted as a collaborative effort by the Greek community at Minnesota State Mankato every spring. Their goal is to raise donations for the patients Gillette Children’s Hospital.

Ashley continues to appreciate all the opportunities that are available in the Greek community. She knows that the great experience she’s had will help provide a springboard for reaching her goals—including working in public relations for a nonprofit—after graduating in May 2016.

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.

Matt DuRose

This photograph was taken on Matt's first day of graduate school classes. His children insisted he take a first day of school picture like they do.

For the last 15 years, Matt DuRose has been working for the Police Services Division of the Mankato Department of Public Safety. Throughout his tenure, he has applied the knowledge and skills he learned at Minnesota State University, Mankato, where he earned a degree in Law Enforcement.

Currently, Matt is a Commander assigned to the geographic area that includes Minnesota State Mankato and the surrounding off-campus housing. He enjoys being around campus again and connecting with students, staff and faculty. Matt has also had the opportunity to oversee the department’s new officer training program and internship program, in which many of the participants have a connection to Minnesota State Mankato.

Every year, Matt will recruit at many of the job and internship fairs on campus. Through his recruitment, Matt is able to supervise up to four interns each semester. Matt enjoys this experience because he is able to connect with other students who are pursuing a passion of his. In addition, he is able to help provide an experience for these students to get hands-on experience in the field. This real-world experience opens doors for other opportunities, such as the volunteer police reserves or even full-time employment.

Over the years, Matt has also partnered with different student organizations and offices to provide programs. He has started to reach out to student organizations across campus beyond the Law Enforcement club, in hopes of expanding the Department of Public Safety’s services in other areas besides just safety and enforcement.

For example, Matt and many of his colleagues have collaborated with Student Health Services and Health Pros. Together, these groups sponsor a program known as House Party. This event is a great way to help provide education around the potential dangers of binge drinking. This is just one of the many events that Matt contributes to on campus to help connect the campus, the community and the Police Department.

Recently, Matt began thinking about his own career goals. He has always wanted to be able to advance within his own department, so he started looking around for ways to increase his knowledge. This period of self-reflection led him to enroll in the Public Administration master’s program last fall.

Even though he had the full support of his wife and kids, as well as the support of his unit, Matt admits that he was a little nervous about getting back into the swing of school after being away for 15 years. After a couple weeks of classes, however, that all changed.

That’s when Matt realized that this time, being in the classroom felt different. The program includes students of diverse backgrounds who are all interested in public administration for varying reasons. As a result, the classroom discussions are fruitful.

When doing his homework at home, often with his two kids keeping him company, Matt is able to grasp the readings and apply the ideas to his own professional experiences. He is also able to share his perspective during the classroom discussions. Although Matt appreciated his experience as an undergraduate at Minnesota State Mankato, he feels that what he is learning as a graduate student is much more rich.

Matt’s real-world experiences with the Mankato Department of Public Safety have had a huge impact on his learning in the classroom. Likewise, the content he’s learning in the classroom can be applied right away to his professional experiences. This practical experience that Matt, and many other graduate students encompass, is a great asset to pursuing advanced degrees at Minnesota State Mankato.

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.