From Student to Staff: Navigating Transformation and Building Community at Minnesota State University Mankato

It didn’t take long for Hodgson to get involved on campus. In the fall of 2018, during his first semester at Minnesota State Mankato, he became a Student Ambassador in the Office of Admission after seeing a flier in Carkoski Commons on his way to the dining hall. In addition to being a Student Ambassador, Hodgson was heavily involved in campus ministry through Young Life and InterVarsity, as well as being a student tour guide.

Hodgson earned his undergraduate degree in Exercise Science in 2022 and immediately pursued a master’s degree in Exercise Physiology in an accelerated one-year track. He graduated this past spring. He is now employed through the Office of Admissions as an Admissions Officer. When the opportunity came up to apply for a role as an Admissions Officer at his alma mater, Hodgson knew it was the right position for him.

He never would have imagined when he came across the flier during his first semester the impact that Student Ambassadors and the Office of Admissions would have on his life, both personally and professionally.

For one thing, it’s how he met his wife, Ashlin. After a year of being student ambassadors together, yet never actually meeting each other, Hodgson met his now wife, Ashlin, at the Office of Admissions tour guide training the day before school started in 2021. Fast forward a year, and he proposed to Ashlin the weekend before the 2022 school year started; the two got married this past June. The couple has felt very supported from other students and staff members on campus, with some even standing up at their wedding.

Now, in his role as an admissions officer, Hodgson helps advise the current Student Ambassadors as well as the student tour guides. He enjoys having that shared lived experience and feels like he can relate to them and help them have a great experience as well. Another aspect he enjoys about his job is “being able to help students [and] families make educated decisions on their college search, and giving them a meaningful and valuable experience when they come to Minnesota State Mankato.”

As a student, Hodgson noted going to hockey games and Student Events Team programs as some of his highlights. His presence on campus and positive work through Student Ambassadors, Admissions, and campus ministry led him to become homecoming royalty as a senior. He emphasizes the importance of getting involved outside of the classroom by advising current and prospective students to “not be afraid to get involved in student groups or different activities on campus because you will most likely find a community that will benefit you in many ways and help create really good relationships.” He feels that Minnesota State Mankato does a great job at providing different services and organizations. Through Student Ambassadors, Hodgson developed a sense of community while learning social skills that taught him the professionalism that he now uses daily in his role as an admissions Officer. The Student Ambassador team accepts donations supporting the training and leadership development of students like Hodgson.

Hodgson has chosen to stay at Minnesota State Mankato, this time as a staff member, because he says, “the university’s environment does a really good job of making people feel welcomed as both students and staff/faculty through different on-campus events and different opportunities they provide for students of many different backgrounds. There are plenty of opportunities and spaces that Minnesota State Mankato provides for people to be able to foster those relationships here on campus and within the community, and that helps everyone connect-- whether it’s students, staff/faculty, or different offices on campus. I felt very welcomed as a staff member too.”

Big ideas and real-world thinking on campus and in the community.

photo of Sam Hodgson