“I grew up in Karachi, Pakistan. The place was a lot more alive then the cities here in the U.S. You could go to a restaurant at 4 p.m. or 4 a.m. and it would be open. I remember I went to LA over winter break, and the restaurants there closed by 8 p.m. It’s the same with Minneapolis, but Minneapolis even shuts down on the weekend. When I was looking for colleges, my uncle had attended school at St. Cloud State University here in Minnesota, so he recommended I go to Mankato or St. Cloud for my schooling. I don’t know why, but I decided on Mankato. Initially, I had started out with mechanical engineering, but I found the professor for that dry and methodical, so I changed to electrical engineering, which is much more exciting. I graduate this spring and plan to go to Indiana afterwards to celebrate my cousin’s graduation at Purdue. After that, I’m not sure what I’ll do, but I hope to get a job somewhere in the energy sector. The thing about electrical engineering is that most of the jobs are in government licensed agencies and businesses despite being a broad subject. Even installing solar panels and batteries at data centers requires government certification. For now, I’ll take it easy and worry about that later.”
Photo & Caption: Kayden Bourgoyne, Ira Raber, and Terrel Dawkins
“Hi, my name is Libby. Since I was a little girl it had always been my dream to be a hairdresser. Now I am a hairdresser in Mankato, Minnesota. Although in college, I wasn’t always working towards being a hairdresser. As a freshman in college I started off wanting to do dental hygiene, but I did not enjoy it at all. I then went onto graphic design which I still have a passion for, but when picking your major, it has to be something that you want to do for the rest of your life and I did not see that for me. So that’s when I went to hairdressing. I have been a hair stylist for 4.5 almost 5 years and currently work at Baxter’s Hair Shop, and previously worked at Regis Hair Salon in the Mankato Mall for a year right after graduating school. When I first started at Baxter’s we were employees of the business and would receive an hourly wage, but in June there was a law that was passed where you don’t have to get your managers license. So now us employees pay weekly to rent our chair and then we get 100% of our commission. So, I’m like my own boss! I love hair styling and see myself continuing this profession in the next ten years, but it isn’t so easy. Being a hairstylist is really hard on my body. After standing for 8 long hours with very few breaks, it takes a toll on my back. I often get many massages. Even through the pain, being a hairstylist is so rewarding. My happiest moments when doing hair is when clients come in and their bummed out because of their current hair style. Then seeing their reaction after you do their hair and seeing their tears because they are so happy is the most rewarding feeling. I truly love my job!”
Photo & Caption: Rachel Wangen, Carly Czaplewski, and Daniell Tazic
“Hi, my name is Mackenzie, and I am one of the many students in this world that is worried about how I am going to pay for college. Right now, I’m about $12,000 in loans, and the daunting fact that it’s going to grow throughout the years is intimidating. I’m worried that I won’t have as much expendable money in the next few years. To try to conquer this fear, I have a part time job in which I save all the tips, and I donate plasma twice a week. I also have a budget that I maintain. My greatest accomplishment so far in my life was earning my Girl Scout Gold Award. This project took me two years, as well as 80 hours of community service to complete. I started a dance class at a center for kids with Downs Syndrome. This location provided free programs for tutoring and bonding experiences within the community. It was significant to me because it was a lot of work, and it required me to interact with different people. It also brought many different challenges, but in the end, it was all worth it because I was able to see how it positively impacted peoples’ lives. What influenced my personality the most was rejection in some type of form. It taught me to love myself, and to not care about what other people thought. It taught me to evaluate what’s important to me, and what my expectations are of other people. It also taught me to value my time. Some people are a waste of time. My greatest strength is my adaptability. I’m really good at evaluating situations and changing to accommodate for the new expectations. And, in new situations, I can greet other people with a positive attitude. I am also good at seeing “the bright side” in bad situations and learning from bad situations or events. On the other hand, my greatest weakness is my impulsiveness. Usually I can do pretty well, but when I act impulsively, I might make rash decisions.”
Photo & Caption: Shane McMahan, Dylan Kolquist, Sarah Wall
“When I was growing up I had the typical American life. I was living in Maple Grove, Minnesota, which is rated the second-best city to live in. I love my family, I grew up with a lot of love around me, which I am blessed with. I’ve looked up to both my mom and dad my whole life, my dad and I have a great relationship, he knows how to stay positive and help me through my hardest of times. The year before high school hockey tryouts I broke my leg. It was very tough for me because I lost my opportunity to play for the high school hockey, and my whole life got harder. I was on crutches, so going to sporting and social events became such a hassle I stopped going. This started to wear on me, I was starting to get really sad, and started to distance myself from my friends. This was the lowest part of my life, but my dad is the one that helped me through it. He was always there to pick me up when I was down, and he tried to motivate and reassure me everyday.”
Photo & Caption: Jacob Wilhelmy, Brooke Engen, Josef Thibodeau
“I grew up on the lake shore of Lake Superior called Lutsen. Growing up in a small town was quite different back in those days. If you wanted to go anywhere you had to find a ride or you walked. The town I lived in had a population of around 8 -15 people depending on the time of year. The closest town around was Grand Marais, 20 miles away. You learned how to entertain yourself and do the things you could. I used to work at a mink farm that was located about three-quarters of a mile through the woods north of my home, so I walk to work and back every day. Maybe it would be best not to mention it, but I was running with biker groups, hanging around known felons, chief of police, lawyers, and doctors; but they are my best friends, so what’s a guy to do. Worked construction, bait trapper, truck driver, equipment operator, welder, salesman, civil rights, law enforcement, and designer inspector for the feds and county government. I joined Uncle Sam’s Canoe Club, the US Navy, where I spent three years, ten months, and one day in the service, and served in the Army National Guard for two years. Those days were good for a young man to grow up in. After the military, I did go to school for computer programming, broadcast tech, and civil engineering tech where I finished with a 3.8 and two quarters ahead of the rest of the class. I had to leave Duluth due to health reasons. After I retired, my health went downhill fast and I figured it was because of the effects that the big lake had on my joints.
Photo & Caption: Kayden Bourgoyne, Terrel Dawkins, & Ira Raber
This 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
“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
” 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
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