Coming from Bremerton, Washington, I expected to learn at least something at Montana State University but could not have imagined just how much that would be. Bozeman is a community that rewarded me handsomely when I took a chance in coming to school here; hopefully you will be rewarded for your choice just as nicely. More specifically, MSU is a nationally recognized institution with professors and a curriculum that ensures I learn during each and every day of classes.
I entered MSU as an aspiring physics major; note that I write “entered” because my physics major did not last long. The material did not click for me, and I have a scholarship to keep; therefore, I had to find a new major. I visited and received advice from the university studies advisors and met Diane Donnelly. She assisted me greatly with her words and referred me to Philip Gaines, the chair of the English department. After meeting Gaines, I got the paperwork to change majors and finished it by the next day because I was convinced that English teaching was where I could succeed. I learned that even if you fully believe you want to major in a field, that can easily change; therefore, if you ever think of changing majors, set up an appointment with an advisor. University studies is located in Gaines Hall and they can help you determine the best course of action with an important decision such as what to study. Your future is on the line here, so study what you love so you can do what you love, and success will follow.
At the same time in my first semester, I took up dancing. I became a regular at dance classes hosted by the Bozeman Folklore Society and visited the MSU Country Dance Club at Romney Gym on Friday nights. It now remains as my outlet for both school and personal stress, and I have made an abundance of friends from those experiences. Additionally, meeting my first girlfriend while dancing was a big plus. MSU and Bozeman are wonderful places with a plethora of opportunities to have fun and meet new people. If dancing is not your thing, there is Toastmasters, Model United Nations, Fencing Club, the MSU Voice Center and so many more clubs and organizations to join. Look up or ask around; school is important, but make sure to maintain a healthy balance between your business and personal lives. Join a group, cultivate a passion or just try something new. You never know what or who you will find.
College is hard. I took seven AP courses in high school and college is still difficult for me, so do not be afraid to ask for help. Assistance is available via your professors and also three of the on-campus tutoring centers. The Math Learning Center is in Wilson Hall 1-112 and the staff there can help you with 20 math courses offered at MSU. The Physics Learning Center is in the Engineering and Physical Sciences building (EPS) 230, and if you are taking physics I highly recommend it. If you want to improve your writing, visit the Writing Center in Wilson Hall 1-114, as writing is an important skill. Definitely take the time to build upon your present abilities.
My friend James Patton, who graduated from the College of Engineering last year, said that “good company inspires people to succeed.” I learned that is very much true. Be with people that both support and care about you. I found these people all over Bozeman: in church, the folklore society, classes and men I know in the fraternity Sigma Nu. I am not a member but I came out of that experience with some brothers nonetheless. Some of you will be dealing with long distance relationships or friendships, stay committed to them if you wish, but always remember you come first, you have enough to deal with in Bozeman.
I fell to earth and reached the mountain top multiple times throughout my freshman year, and with the right attitude and people, I always rose back up. Enjoy and make the most out of your time at Montana State, make sure to always try to make the right decisions, be with true friends and never be afraid to ask for help. Welcome to Montana State University, best of luck and go Cats!