Humans of Mankato PictureThis is Zach. He’s a 21-year-old junior in college here at Minnesota State University Mankato, studying Business Marketing. He chose to major in business marketing because he has family members who also graduated with a degree in business marketing, and he also likes the concept of trying to market a product for people to buy. When asked why he chose Mankato, his response was, “I love the atmosphere down here because it is a perfect place for college students. I like how the city is not huge but not small, it’s not very complex, so it is easy to find my way around. It’s also a plus that it’s only a 45-minute drive from my home in Prior Lake.” Zach is pictured here in his work uniform because he has to work in order to pay for things such as rent, gas for his car, groceries, and other necessities for college. Also found in this picture is his long-board and a board used to surf behind a boat. He owns a boat that is kept in Prior Lake and likes to go surfing during the summer with friends and family. Zach also enjoys long-boarding for fun during the summer and utilizing his long board to get to class when its nice out. Ever since Zach was a young kid, he has always enjoyed spending time outside. I asked Zach what was one thing that changed him as a person in his life and he replied, “My dad passed when I was really young and it changed my life ever since. It was really hard growing up without a father, but I had to take the role of being the only man of the house growing up with my mom and two sisters. I like hearing from family and friends of all the similarities we share, and it makes me happy knowing we are alike”. Zach is self-driven and wants to make a name for himself. Within the next ten years, he wants to be working at a prestigious marketing firm in downtown Chicago. He sees himself in a house, in the Illinois suburbs with a wife or girlfriend, and at least two dogs. Lastly, Zach told our interviewer that he likes to live a simple life, and tries to enjoy every given second of each and every day.

Photograph & Caption: Brady Sloan, Merissa Roth, Katelyn Boucher



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“My grandpa has had an enormous impact on me he has taught me so much. We would go hunting regularly together. I shot my first deer with him when I was 12 years old, and we also really enjoyed fishing together. He taught me everything I know about hockey. He was my biggest fan on the ice and was always cheering me on when I was playing.  My grandpa died when I was 16 years old, and that had to be the hardest moment of my life. I chose to come to Mankato because I wanted to be far away from home. I am from Grand Rapids in northern Minnesota. I wanted to start a new life with no one I really knew, finding a different life with new people in Mankato, this has been one of the happiest moments in my life. I love my family and friends, but it is nice to have a fresh start. I am going to school and hoping to work for the city surveying construction sites one day. My dream job would be to be a professional hockey player, but I really enjoy doing construction and can see myself moving up in the career and really enjoying it. Later in life I wish to have a respectable job that I can support a family with, and I would love to have kids someday.

Photo & Caption: Jacob Wilhelmy, Brooke Engen, Josef Thibodeau


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” My name is Joe and I am from the small town of Lamberton, Minnesota. When I first went to college I aspired to become an electrical engineer and follow in my brother’s footsteps. When these plans did not work out, I changed my major to business management with a minor in music and I finally settled on music management and wished to open a store. I picked Mankato for a place to open my store, which was 70 miles west of Lamberton where my father’s shop was located, because of the logistics behind the population and the retail draw in music. As far as involvement in the community in the Mankato area, I have played in a wind ensemble and a community group-based Jazz band for the past five to ten years, but I don’t currently do that anymore. I support all the local orchestras, bands, high schools, and colleges in the Mankato community. With the younger kids, I support the children’s chorus and the Kids Making Music organization. To help out with music in my community, my colleagues and I have donated many different items such as gift cards for raffles, a Guatemalan marimba to MSU, and other various instruments to the less fortunate children who enjoy making music. A while ago, a writer who did not know my story rented an instrument from me and ended writing an article about my dedication to improving music and musical involvement throughout the community for the past however many years.”

Photo & Caption: Will Conard, Rob Meidl, and Cam Kline


“My dad immigrated to the United States from Ghana with his family when he was just a kid. I was born when he was only seventeen. He left me with my mom in Chicago and went off to play football in college and finish his education. I was never really a priority to my mom and that left me pretty much spending the first part of my life being brought up by my grandma. We moved from Chicago to Georgia to Minnesota all by the time I was in fourth grade. It seemed like we were always moving around and that I was always starting at a new school. Nothing ever felt stable. When I was nine my dad got custody of me, and came to Minnesota from Nebraska to get me. I remember going to college with him and sitting in the computer lab while he was in class finishing his Master’s. He has taken my education very seriously too. He used to make me bring home random progress reports and do book reports that he assigned at home. I lived with my dad in Nebraska from fourth grade through high school, and he could be really strict. He was never even really home. Most of the time I was taking care of myself at home, by myself, even as a nine-year-old. I had to cook my own meals and make sure the house was clean every day. When I graduated from high-school I went off to college right away, but my head just wasn’t in it at that time. I moved back to Minnesota, got a job, started working and bought my very own first car. Everything was going well and I was ready to go back to college here in Mankato, but when it came time to file the FAFSA, my mom didn’t come through. I am finally back in school now that I can file on my own, and I am majoring in Computer Science. I might even go to grad school when I’m done, who knows. I’m just happy to be in school after all of the struggles along the way.”

Picture & Caption: Mackenzie Hendley, Torey Richards, Lexi Maehren


image.jpegMeet Lauren,

She’s a girl who has moved around her whole life. Most of the time you have one maybe two houses you live in while you’re growing up, well she’s had eight houses. The summer in between 5th and 6th grade her house burnt down, and she was forced to live in an apartment while her house was being rebuilt. She lost everything, the house was turned into ash, all her memories were gone. After her new house was built they lived there for three years before moving to Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The next three years were each spent in a new home. She’s never really had a place to call home because each place was different than the next. All she wants these next four years is to call Mankato her home.

Picture & Caption: Kaleb Malakowsky, Faith Krause, Estefani Jaramillo, and Kiley Demery



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“My name is Donna, and I am currently a chef at the 1872 Grill, in Julia A. Sears residence hall. I have been working here, at Minnesota State University Mankato for sixteen years. The Julia A. Sears residence hall opened nine years ago, and I have been working here since day one. I love working here, because of how great the kids are. My husband always jokes that we can’t go anywhere without seeing some of the Minnesota State kids I know. I love it, I absolutely love it. Growing up, my family life was rough. I didn’t get along with my parents very well. They always wanted me to be the adult in the family, and take care of my younger siblings. I chose to go a different route and build the life I wanted to live. During college, I lived with my grandparents and worked at a bar. After I graduated, one of my girlfriends and I decided we would take a road trip to visit her aunt in Deadwood. This was in the year of 1972 during the Rapid City Flood. We didn’t even realize we were driving through a monsoon, because we were having so much fun. Our three-day trip ended up turning into three months. It was so sad because many people were never found because of the flood. Back then we used land lines, and it was really hard to reach anyone during the flood. I was able to get a hold of my grandma and she was able to tell my family what had happened. My sister thought that maybe my grandma had just dreamed this, because she wanted it to be true so badly. A week later I was able to get a hold of the rest of my family, and tell them that I was okay. For the next three months, we worked at Dairy Queen because we had no way of returning back home.”

Picture & Caption: Rachel Wangen, Danielle Tazic, and Carly Czaplewski




“Be yourself and try everything. If you don’t, you will regret missing out on all the opportunities. That is my advice. Hi, my name is Daniel, and through perseverance, I have overcome challenges and achieved some of my biggest accomplishments. Throughout my life, my father has struggled with terminal cancer. Experiencing his battle with cancer has made it extremely difficult for us to stay positive in our everyday lives. It has also introduced my biggest fears. I am terrified of being diagnosed with a terminal illness and losing loved ones. Overall, I do not want my actions to cause me to live with regret or shame. Despite watching my father battle cancer, I have been able to achieve one of my biggest dreams. I am a successful student-athlete on the division one men’s hockey team at Minnesota State University, Mankato (MSU, M). I chose to attend MSU, M because of its hockey team and community. Its location is ideal, the students have formed an amazing community, and I wanted the opportunity to continue my hockey career at a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) level. With all these experiences, I believe I have yet to experience the happiest moment of my life. However, my healthy family and success in hockey are the two things that make me undoubtedly happy. Through trying new things, I have not yet come to regret anything. Therefore, I believe everyone should live life to its fullest with no regrets. By doing this, I hope to one day have a wealthy and healthy family of my own.”

Photo & Caption by: Shane McMahan, Sarah Wall, and Dylan Kolquist





Meet Ellyn, a hard-working, compassionate, and fun-loving twenty-two-year-old. Ellyn has accomplished many obstacles in her life and has learned important life lessons from the difficult experiences in her life. We all have had a significant event in our life that changes the way we think and here is hers:

“Back in 2010 during my freshman year of high school, I tried out for an extremely competitive volleyball club team and unfortunately did not make it. This event was significant in the fact that I had always been on the highest-level team and felt extremely defeated. I decided to stay positive and tryout for a different club, which ended up leading me to incredible coaches and experiences. This experience made me realize that not everything in life will turn out how you want it to and that everything happens for a reason. Joining this club team lead me to a coach who ended up being a mentor in my life and taught me so much more than just the game of volleyball. She taught me to always have confidence in myself and my abilities and to never give up. Throughout the season I was pushed out of my very small comfort zone and given opportunities I will never forget. I truly believe that being a part of that team in 2010 has helped shape me into the person I am today. This event has made such a big difference in my life. I gained incredible leadership skills which lead me to becoming the team captain my Senior year of high school. These skills also allowed me to be a leader all throughout college in many ways and eventually lead me to the position I am in today as the store Supervisor at Bath and Body Works. It’s crazy to think how an experience such as joining a sports team in high school, can make such a difference in the rest of your life. I have noticed a major difference in my level of self-confidence and to be thankful for every opportunity that comes your way. Everything really does happen for a reason and I strive each day to stay positive through the ups and downs that life can throw at you and find that reason. Looking back at this experience, I would change my attitude and mindset about this event. When I found out that I did not make the team I originally tried out for, I was extremely upset. I was so focused on the negatives and was beating myself up for not being good enough. Eventually I switched my train of thought and was able to pick myself up and tryout for a different team, however I wish I was not so hard on myself. In five to ten years I see myself married and with kids, hopefully living in Minnesota in a beautiful home, and of course with a puppy! I see myself volunteering to help coach my kids sports teams and teach them life lessons like my coaches once taught me. I see myself having a stable job and enjoying my weekends off spending time with my family.”

Photo & caption by: Blair Wareham, Dimitra Rothweiler, & Sydney Corbin















Dog“Hello, my name is Lushi, but my friends call me Lucia. I am from China. Before I came to Mankato pursuing my master degree, I used to live with my parents and grandmother. I have wanted to have pets since I was ten years old. However, my family never let me have pets. My grandmother is an old fashioned Chinese woman who always says,

“Lushi, no dogs!”

I never had a chance to have a dog. Also, my grandmother always blames my uncle having pets in their house. My uncle has two cats and one dog. I remember that I always went his house to play with his pets, and I really wanted to have the dog like my uncle’s dog. I am lucky because my dream came true. After moving from China to Mankato, I adopted my dog. Her name is Jess, and she is the best dog ever. She feels my emotions. When I am sad and depressed, she always brings her toys to play with me. Having my dog makes me feel needed and loved. As an international student in America, I am so far from my family. However, I never felt lonely in Mankato because I have my best friend Jess.

Photo & Caption by: Luke Dawson, Nick Edstrom, and Uudus Bayarsaikhan



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“My name is Ahmed and I am studying for my Masters in Urban Planning, and Local Government Management here at MSU. I am a firm believer of the idea: If you want to change the lives of the people, you need to be part of the solution.

Therefore, my undergraduate degree was Environmental Science, which is an interdisciplinary academic field. Both Urban Planning and Environmental Science degrees are very compatible in terms of solving the environmental issues that influence our interaction with the natural systems. Mankato has been a wonderful place for me. I’ve been a part of the Mankato community for the last 7 years. I haven’t found any dislikes to make me rethink my stay. It’s a college town that has supported me throughout my academic years. I’m about to finish my second and third degrees next May. I don’t know what the future holds, but so far, I am very happy with my stay in Mankato, Minnesota. My proudest activity that I helped with was The Emergency Community Help Organization (ECHO). It’s a nonprofit organization that provides emergency food assistance to people in Blue Earth County and North Mankato. I loved the time I spent with them. It’s a great way to help the less fortunate people in this community. My favorite soccer team is Arsenal, which is the English soccer team. I was exposed to the Arsenal team at an early age. By then, they were playing the most attractive game in the league. Ever since then, it stuck on my heart.”

Photo & Caption by: Thomas Imholte, Noah Rajtar, Shuaib Mohamud, Jameson Meyer