Exceeding Expectations: Why students decide to #BeADragon

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Aaron Simmons

simmonsaa@mnstate.edu

There is one thing that nearly all 6,000 MSUM students have in common: they chose MSUM.

They chose to live in the unofficial wind tunnel of the Upper Midwest. They chose to attend a school that doesn’t have skyways or tunnels connecting academic buildings.

But, why?

Why do students decide to come from miles around to attend the small liberal arts school across the river from the NDSU? The university’s website boasts that it is a three and a half hour drive from Minneapolis, Sioux Falls, Winnipeg, and Bismarck, but there are quite a few formidable schools located just off each route.

Why do students choose to stay and complete their degree where the unyielding wind and snow have its population in a constant seasonal depression?

It sure isn’t the weather.

“The minute I stepped on campus, I felt at home,” MSUM alumna Morgan Clements said. “The atmosphere was so warm and welcoming. I knew deep down that MSUM was the place for me.”

Clements, a 2017 grad, held nearly every campus leadership position during her time at MSUM before moving on to grad school

“The only thing I regret is not being able to stay at MSUM, but they didn’t have the masters program I was interested in,” Clements said.

One of the graduate programs MSUM does offer is speech-language pathology, and it’s quite prestigious. According to the department’s website, the program has a 100 percent job placement record.

Though she isn’t in grad school, MSUM sophomore Kylie MacDonald is a speech language hearing sciences major, the undergrad equivalent. While she initially came to Moorhead to be a part of the swim team, she decided to stay because of the people she encountered within her program.

“Everyone is friendly, and you can make relationships with faculty easily,” MacDonald said. “When comparing it to my friend’s school, MSUM has the most personable college experiences I’ve heard of.” 

Meeting friendly and welcoming faces seems to be commonplace for students on campus, including Brianna Bradley, executive director of Dragon Entertainment Group.

“I went into MSUM only knowing my cousin, who I begged to join me,” Bradley said. “Now, I can enter almost any building, or walk around campus, and be able to run in to at least one person that I can say hi to. The community at MSUM has truly been a family I wasn’t expecting to have, but I am so thankful for it.”

Some students found more than just family in Moorhead. Danielle Page, an MSUM graduate and the university’s digital marketing specialist, even met her husband at school.

“I found exactly what I was looking for: connection with my classmates, a large group of friends through student organizations, a program that prepared me exceptionally well for the real world and a great deal more,” Page said.

The connected community and friends made are the biggest factors for young people when choosing and staying at a university.

After all, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

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