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April 2011 Archives

We survived the winter, and it's time to enjoy everything that the Twin Cities has to offer during the summer! CNN's recent article about the metro area describes many great offerings of our city this time of year. I am so lucky to be living and working as a student in such an exciting environment! I know that I will be very busy this summer enjoying the perfect weather.

Since we've been cooped up indoors for so long, it's great to have a meal outside in the sun, with live music from one of Minneapolis' great artists. Many restaurants feature patios to sit at in the summer, and the two that the CNN journalist featured were Aster Cafe and The Anchor Fish & Chips. Both feature amazing food and the best atmosphere to relax in Minneapolis, the No. 4 on the list of the world's 10 best summer destinations according to National Geographic Traveler.

The arts are a huge part of what makes "The Cities" such a great location. Here, we have the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Fitzgerald Theatre in downtown St. Paul, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the famous music club First Avenue. Living in Minneapolis has allowed me to listen and dance to popular bands at First Ave., which is one of my favorite ways to spend the weekend.

Another tourist destination mentioned in the article was the Mall of America, one of my favorite places to shop in the metro area. While it can be busy at times, this mall has everything, and I have a blast every time I visit. Whether it's shopping, eating, or just enjoying a nice bike ride, you can be certain that traveling here is a great way to spend the summer!

It is hard to believe that in just two weeks I will be crossing the stage to receive my diploma. It seems like just yesterday my parents were dropping me off for the first time Territorial Hall. I have learned so much and have had a blast during the last four years. Even though it is sad to be leaving the U of M, I feel as though I am prepared to go out into the real world and am excited start the next chapter of my life! 

For my final post I would like to share with you my top ten reasons why I love the University of Minnesota (in no particular order):

Campus
Ever since I visited the University of Minnesota for the first time, I have been in love with the campus grounds. There are beautiful views of the downtown skyline and the Mississippi River. Every building has its own unique architecture and artwork is scattered around campus such as the Wall of Discovery and the St. Paul Bronze Bulls.

Greek life
Joining the Greek community was one of the best decisions I made in my college career. The tight-knit community has provided many leadership, scholarship, and service opportunities for me. I will always come back to campus to support my sorority and fellow Greeks!

Fun classes
Electives and major requirements alike; there are a variety of courses that make learning fun and interesting at the University of Minnesota. History of Rock n' Roll, Toy Product Design, and Bob Dylan are one-of-a-kind classes you can't find anywhere else!

Goldy Gopher
I can't help but smile every time I see Goldy Gopher around campus. His silly antics and school spirit entertain the young and old. It is no wonder why he was named the Best Mascot in the Nation this year.

Diversity
Our campus is home to students, faculty, and staff from many different countries, backgrounds, and cultures. The U of M is a place where you can explore other cultures and celebrate your own. We come to college to learn from professors and experts, but we also learn so much from each other.

Twin Cities
One of the main reasons I enrolled in the U of M is the great location. I have enjoyed living in a vibrant urban area and being just minutes from professional sports games, world renown theaters, museums, and more.

Campus wide events
If you have been reading my blog, you can probably tell that I enjoy the campus-wide events such as Homecoming, Spring Jam, and Minnesota Royal. Every person at the University shares the common bond of being a part of this community. These great traditions bring students, faculty and staff, and alumni together to celebrate our wonderful school.  

Student groups and organizations
Throughout college, I have been involved in a number of organizations including Minnesota Student Association, Public Relations Student Society of America, Alpha Gamma Delta, and more. Groups and organizations have not only kept me busy, but have provided leadership and personal growth opportunities!

Food
I am somewhat of a "foodie" and love going out to eat with friends and family. The U of M and Twin Cities are full of restaurants with delicious cuisine such as Loring Pasta Bar, Al's Breakfast, and Punch Pizza. This is definitely a great place to live if you like to be fed well!

Big Ten sports
The University of Minnesota has a great tradition of athletics! Some of my favorite memories are sporting events such as the inaugural football game in TCF Bank Stadium last year and seeing the Gopher hockey team beat North Dakota my freshman year.

As in many aspects of life, all good things must come to an end. I am so glad I have had the opportunity to give you an insider's view of life as a Golden Gopher. I hope that I gave you a better idea of what it is like to go to college at the University of Minnesota and have shown you some of the great opportunities this wonderful campus has to offer.

So long....

Hilary

 

This weekend is Spring Jam, one of my favorite times of the year at the University of Minnesota. Spring Jam is an annual campus-wide music festival and is one of the U of M's biggest events of the year. There are concerts, competitions, and a variety of special events put on by Student Unions and Activities to celebrate the warm weather and the end of the school year. Here is what I'm especially looking forward to this week:

Service Project - From noon until 5 p.m. on Thursday there will be a community service opportunity to package meals for Kids Against Hunger. It is a local non-profit organization that provides meals for children and their families in the Twin Cities.

Trampled by Turtles concert - On Thursday night Trampled by Turtles is performing in the Animal Arena on the St. Paul campus. This must-see folk band was founded in Duluth, Minnesota, and has been entertaining crowds across the country for eight years. I'm excited to check-out this local band.

Ballyhoo - Ballyhoo is an annual dance competition between the Greek chapters. Greek chapters perform choreographed dances and are judged on their variety of dance styles, costume, use of theme, music, and more. I am excited to see my sorority sisters perform a Lady Gaga-inspired dance that they have been practicing for months!

Outdoor movie night - On Friday night, there will be an outdoor movie theater set up on Coffman Memorial Union's front plaza. There will be music played by a Beatles tribute band to go along with the Beatles inspired movie, Across the Universe.

Battle of the Bands - On Saturday afternoon, student bands will compete to be the opening band for the headliner concert that evening. Bands are allowed to play a 15 minute set and will be judged on sound, stage presence, and spirit. The number of musically talented people here at the University is amazing!

OK GO - After years of being a fan, I am excited to finally see OK GO live! Their famous treadmill dance is enough to get me to go to the show. The concert will close out a week of good music and fun.  

Visit the Spring Jam website for a full listing of events happening this week and to learn more about Spring Jam.

The University of Minnesota's Formula SAE  (Society of Automotive Engineers) Team is composed of 25 U of M students, primarily majoring in mechanical engineering, who design and build a race car each year. The team will be competing against other Formula SAE teams in Michigan this May under the sponsorship of Honeywell.

The 2011 car averages 75 miles per hour, and can theoretically reach 135 mph. The team has the goal of placing in the top 15. After learning from previous years and incorporating new strategies in design and building, these U of M students have high expectations for the future of our Formula SAE chapter. For more information on this project, visit the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Formula SAE team website.

Many members of the team find jobs have been hired by major engineering corporations as a result of their involvement in the Formula SAE Team. It's a great way to get involved on campus and network with future employers!

Pictured below is the racecar on its first drive of the year on Saturday, April 9th:

SAE racecar.jpg

During the 2010-2011 school year, a group of University of Minnesota first-year students took photos to document their transition to the campus. Through an exhibit titled "The First-Year Photo Project," this group of freshmen have displayed their photos at the Coffman Arts Gallery in Coffman Memorial Union. You can see many of the photos on the Orientation & First Year Programs website. 

The entries were very impressive, and thoughtfully depicted what it means to be a student at the U of M. Themes of the exhibit include: "Who You Are," "First Days," "Confidence and Anxiety," "Show Your University," and "Closure and Development." 

If you're visiting campus before the exhibit closes on August 11, be sure to check it out!

One of the best things about walking around the U of M campus is constantly seeing and experiencing new things. Today, I learned that it is Ag Awareness Day, hosted by the students of the Minnesota Agricultural Club. I was greeted to campus by live cows, llamas, sheep, and even a pig!

Ag Awareness Day was created to promote awareness of the necessities of life that we as Americans recieve from our agriculutral resources. The necessities of life, such as food, clothing, and fuel, are displayed to show how agricultural resources play a critical role in our modern civilization. Along with students from the Minnesota Agruiculturaul Club, there are also Minnesota agricultural producers and agencies to offer information and display how their agricultural work helps support people all over the state of Minnesota (and around the world).

There is rarely a dull day on campus, so take advantage of events such as this one to enhance your U of M experience! To learn about future events on campus, visit the Campus Event website.

There are literally thousands of opportunities to enhance your college experience and prepare for a successful future. A new website geared toward helping you get involved in the U of M and Twin Cities communities is Engage! This is a website where you can find activites in a specific area of interest. From A to Z there is something for everyone! There are also links for student employment, community outreach, research, and even internships. All the tools you need to enhance your experience and prepare you for success are right at your fingertips. Take some time to look and see what activites you can find that interest you!

The school year is coming to an end, but before it's over, I'd like to share with you one of my favorite classes of the semester-- American Popular Culture and Politics: 1940 to the Present. I took this American Studies course to satisfy some of my liberal education requirements: the 4-credit course fulfills the 'Civic Life and Ethics' and 'Historical Perspectives' themes, and is also a writing intensive requirement. I was thrilled to find a class that fulfilled three requirements and was also very interesting.

In this class, we study the history of America beginning with World War II. This is done through reading approximately 50 pages each week, as well as viewing a film each week that is related to the topic we're discussing. Through experiencing the popular culture itself and listening to a lecture about the historical context, we are able to see how history has changed the way Americans think and act, and how it has affected what we are exposed to on a daily basis. Some of the films we've watched include Gran Torino, Thelma and Louise, Rambo, and Fight Club. Through this class, I've learned a great deal of new information about important topics in American history, such as the baby boom, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, consumer culture, the aftermath of 9/11, and many more.

I find the workload very reasonable for an upper-level, writing intensive class (but perhaps that is because I like it so much!). The course culminates in a 10-12 page term paper discussing the themes of the class, a popular culture item of your choice, and how it relates to a domestic or international issue in the history of America. We meet for lecture twice a week, as well as discussion once a week. There are four quizzes and final. The quizzes consist of short essays related to the themes and popular culture items of the class, and the final is a take-home essay. This may sound like a lot of writing, but the content is interesting, and you don't realize how much you have learned until you look back on what you have accomplished. The work is enjoyable!

I have looked forward to attending this class each week throughout this semester and I highly recommend it!

The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities was recently awarded three grants, each worth approximately one million dollars, to research the biofuels production process along with co-products that can help enhance the value of the bio-based economy. These grants were awarded by the U.S. Department Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) which targets the development of regional systems for the sustainable production of bioenergy and bio-based products. Here is a quick overview of the three projects:

• A study of how diversified bioenergy cropping systems -- perennial crops such as grasses and woody plants -- can improve biological control of pests such as the soybean aphid. The project, led by agronomy and plant genetics associate professor Gregg Johnson, is intended to help provide more information for decision-makers about biomass cropping systems design, placement and influence on the surrounding landscape.

• An examination of how useful thermoplastics can be created from lignin, an important co-product from the conversion of biomass to biofuels. Professor Simo Sarkanen of the bioproducts and biosystems engineering department estimates that by 2030, biofuel production using lignocellulose will generate large quantities (more than 200 million tons per year) of lignin, which can be used for new kinds of polymers and plastics. An important focus of the work will be the development of effective plasticizers for these new materials.

• Research on how solid residues of bioenergy production could be utilized to generate nanofiber intermediates, binderless films and adhesives, converting a would-be waste residue into value-added co-products. The project is led by William Tze, an assistant professor in the bioproducts and biosystems engineering department.

William Tze was actually my academic adviser for my sophomore, junior, and senior year. It was wonderful to have an adviser who was an actual professor from the department to help me choose the classes that would best fit my career goals and interests! In addition, you can get involved in research that is happening in CFANS through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program!

Hi eveyone! Meet Linell Grzesik, a current student in the College of Biological Sciences. Linell is senior studying biology.

 

Linell_at_DT_lab.jpg

 Photo of Linell working in her research lab

 

Hometown: Rhinelander, WI
Major: Biology
Year in School: Senior
 
What other colleges and universities did you consider attending? Primarily the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Why did you choose the U of M? I thought the campus was very pretty and I could really see myself living here. I also really liked my admissions counselor (Leah Brus, former CBS admissions counselor) because she contacted me a lot, answered all of my questions, really seemed to care, and didn't make me feel like number. Another big reason I chose the U of M is the amazing College of Biological Sciences that allowed me to be part of a smaller college in a larger University that specifically adhered to my interests. If I went to school elsewhere, I think I would have missed out on this friendly, supportive and interactive environment that I have experience in CBS at the U of M.

What has been the biggest surprise about attending college at the U of M? Two things come to mind: 1. I can't walk across campus and NOT run into someone I know enough to say hello. 2. There are so many things to do here!!! Campus events, exploring Uptown and Downtown, Lake Calhoun, volunteering, etc.

What student groups, clubs, or organizations are you currently involved in?
I am the president of Minnesota Medical Leaders and a member of the CBS Dean's Scholar's Program (I mentor students). I also work in a biochemistry lab, participate in directed research in a physiology and integrative biology lab, and am a the student group relations chair on the CBS Student Board. Finally, I volunteer at Common Bond Communities as an adult tutor.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota's Fisheries and Wildlife Department have been researching the health benefits that 1,500 miles of migration has on the monarch population. Their study has shown that the migration actually helps to rid the monarch butterflies of parasites. This implies that disruptions to migrations, whether by habitat loss, loss of nectar plants along the migration route, climate change, or other factors, can reduce the fitness of monarchs, other migrating insects, and even vertebrates.

"We've shown that migration provides an opportunity to escape from habitats that might build up levels of diseases, and also to cull out susceptible individuals," says Karen Oberhauser, a University of Minnesota Monarch researcher.


Monarch butterflies.jpgCheck out the UMNews article for more details on monarch butterfly research at the U of M.

The College of Liberal Arts (CLA) offers courses in more than 30 languages, ranging from Arabic to Swahili. We also have the nation's largest study abroad program that offers more than 300 opportunities in more than 60 different countries. These opportunities are a great way for students to immerse themselves in a language and culture abroad. Students also have support from advisers to pursue national and international scholarships to continue their studies abroad.

Eleven students at the University of Minnesota were recently awarded scholarships from the U.S. State Department to pursue their studies of "critical need" languages. Through the Critical Language Scholars Program, students get the opportunity to study one of the chosen critical needs languages in a country where the language is spoken.

Students from accross the country compete for one of the 575 scholarships that are awarded annually, and eight students from the College of Liberal Arts were awarded one these competitive scholarships. They include four undergraduate students and four graduate students:

Undergraduates
Tyler Conklin - Turkish in Turkey
Brianna Crowley - Turkish in Turkey
Susan Metzger - Russian in Russia
Kelly Heitz - Arabic in Jordan

Graduate Students
Greta Bliss - Arabic in Jordan
Michelle Baroody - Arabic in Egypt
Dustin Chacon - Bangla/Bengali in Bangladesh
Stephanie Rozman - Hindi in India

After completing one of these programs, students are expected to continue to study the language beyond their study abroad experience and into their future professions. The Critical Language Scholarship is one of many scholarship opportunities available to students at the University of Minnesota. To learn about more opportunities, click here.

The best desicion I made as a first-year student was to rush Alpha Kappa Psi, a professional business fraternity. In today's competitive business world, I am lucky to have gained so many connections through this organization (in my first year of school!). In addition, I am making so many great friends and having a blast being part of such an amazing group of students. Because I recieved a housing scholarship from the generous Alpha Kappa Psi Scholarship Fund, I currently live in the chapter's house in Dinkytown. The chapter house is the site of much of the professional development, community service, academic achievement, and social engagement which makes up the four pillars of AKPsi.

Professional Development

It is important that the members of Alpha Kappa Psi succeed in business. The majority of the members are students of the Carlson School of Management, but membership is open to all students. The fraternity provides direction toward achievment in the business world. AKPsi teaches resume writing, interview skills, professional dress and demeanor, business correspondence, and networking strategies, and the experiences of our distiguished alumni are passed down to younger members. Our alumni network not only provides mentorship and internship opportunities, but has led us to our excellent relationship with Minneapolis companies. Saphire Consulting, our own student consulting group, provides even more professional advancement to the members of AKPsi. Through this, and other opportunities such as site visits at major companies, I am confident to say that AKPsi is helping me prepare to succeed in life after graduation.

Community Service

As part of AKPsi's foundation or principals, we strive to participate in at least one community service project every month. Our most recent act of community service, a Date Auction, helped raise approximately $2,700 for Relay for Life. The volunteerism we provide is fun, because we participate together, and all members are eager to lend a helping hand in the community. Some other example of annual activites include The United Way's Family Fun Night, the Como Zoo's 'Zoo Boo,' and Carlson Goes to Work, which helps entreprenuers get a start on their business. It feels good to be a part of an organization that contributes to making the Twin Cities area an even better place to live and work.

Academic Achievement

The chapter house provides tools to help its members succeed in their schoolwork. It is very important that the members of AKPsi hold themselves to high standards of academics. Therefore, the study-friendly environment promotes everyone to reach their goals. We have our own computer lab with free printing and wireless Internet. Older members are always willing to help, tutor, or even lend textbooks to younger members in introductory courses. Also, AKPsi members hold many postions throughout other student organizations, and the knowledge base grows with every individual's accomplishment.

Social Events and Networking

Last but certainly not least, Alpha Kappa Psi is fun! The incredible friendships that are developed here will change my life forever. We have many social events through such as homecoming, a winter retreat, and a spring formal. Other social gatherings happen every single day, and there is never a lack of smart, enthusiastic people to spend time with.

My experience has led me to encourage anyone who is interested in business to rush AKPsi, or at least learn more about the organization on the Alpha Kappa Psi website!

 

Relay for life.jpgOn Friday, April 8, more than 2,400 people gathered at the University of Minnesota's Bierman Athletic Field for the eighth-annual Relay for Life. Relay For Life is a 12-hour, overnight event designed to raise money for research and programs for the American Cancer Society. Its purpose is to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease.

Over 5,000 communities all over the United States host a Relay For Life. Every relay begins with a survivor's lap--people that have survived cancer are invited to the track for a lap to celebrate the victories that have been made against cancer. After dark, the Luminaria Ceremony takes place. Luminarias, each with the name of a person that has had cancer, line the track and the candles inside are lit. Amanda Hegeman, Colleges Against Cancer (CAC) president, said, "My favorite part of the Relay is the Luminaria Ceremony. It is a powerful time when everyone gets to take time and remember why they are relaying." The last ceremony that happens is the Fight Back Ceremony in which people make a personal commitment to save lives such as talking to government officials about health policies, joining the Colleges Against Cancer student group, or pledge to quit smoking.

This was the first year that the U of M Relay was able to be held outside in the eight years of its existence. There were a number of fun events going on throughout the night. There was a Spam eating contest, Buffalo Wild Wings Blazin' Challenge, a breakdancing show, a performance by the local band Cadence, and much more. CAC President Amanda Hegeman said, "Being outside this year there was definitely a different feel. It seemed as though there was a greater sense of community at the event. I'm not exactly sure why, but the entire of the event was amazing this year!" 

Colleges Against Cancer reached its seven-year goal to raise a million dollars for the American Cancer Society earlier this year and kept the momentum leading up to the Relay. The University of Minnesota raised over $219,000 before and during the event this year. The House that Bob Built was the winning team that ended up raising at total of $18,174!

To learn more about this great tradition, visit the U of M Relay For Life website.

Every year, the College of Biological Sciences (CBS) Student Board hosts a week of events dedicated to bringing the CBS students, faculty and staff together for fun activities and events. BioDays started this week with the 5k Run for Multiple Sclerosis Research on Sunday, April 17th. This 5k run is mapped out throughout the East Bank of the Minneapolis Campus and is a annual event hosted by the CBS Student Board to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis research. 



In addition to the 5k Run for MS Research, the CBS Student Board has arranged great social events for CBS community throughout the week, including discounted games and bowling at Goldy's Gameroom in Coffman Memorial Union. Every year, Biodays week concludes with the annual College of Biological Sciences Picnic where CBS students, staff and faculty come together for some BBQ under the warm spring sun.


CBS Picnic 08 005.jpg

CBS Picnic on St. Paul Campus


BioDays is just one example of how the College of Biological Sciences community comes together throughout the year!

I am a huge fan of the Food Network and one of my favorite shows is Iron Chef America, in which two world-class chefs battle in the kitchen to make the best dishes using a secret ingredient. This Friday, April 15, Gophers After Dark is hosting its own Iron Chef competition. 
 
The goal is to make one appetizer, one main dish, and one dessert, each incorporating the secret ingredient, in 45 minutes. Students are allowed to make teams of one to four people. Each team will receive a grocery bag full of a variety of foods that they can use to make their dishes. There will be three rounds--the two winning teams from each round will compete in the final round. The secret ingredient will be announced five minutes before the rounds begin.
 
Judging will be based on five criteria:

  • Taste (15 points)
  • Visual presentation (15 points)
  • Use of secret ingredient (9 points) 
  • Creativity (6 points)
  • Within the time limit (5 points)

 
The winning team gets a $100 gift card to Buffalo Wild Wings! Learn more about the Iron Chef Competition and other fun events happening at Gopher After Dark on the Student Unions and Activities website: http://sua.umn.edu/events/afterdark/.

One of my favorite things to do is enjoy a great meal with friends and family. I'm so lucky to live near Dinkytown (a neighborhood adjacent to campus), where there are so many options for places to enjoy a delicious meal. Here are a few of my favorite places to eat in Dinkytown:

Loring Pasta Bar

The Loring Pasta Bar has always been my favorite place to eat near the U of M. This Italian restaurant's design and decor is beautiful, and unlike any other in Dinkytown. When it's warm, you can  eat outside, too! There is almost always great music in the evenings and a chance to go salsa dancing on certain nights and weekends. Then there's the food--which is always fantastic. I love pasta, and Loring's pasta is some of the best I've had! Also, during certain times, students can recieve a 30 percent discount with their U Card!

Al's Breakfast

Al's Breakfast is sometimes overlooked--it's a tiny restaurant built in the space between two larger buildings, which was once an alley. However, this restaurant serves, in my opinion, the best breakfast in Dinkytown. I strongly encourage you to try their amazing food. Be careful though, you may get hooked and want to go to Al's every morning! Be prepared to wait in line due to the small size of the restaurant and the number of people there who know they are in for a great breakfast. It's worth the wait!

Mesa Pizza

With it's unique and flavorful pizza options, including Southwest Taco, Philly Cheesesteak,and Macaroni and Cheese (my favorite!), it's impossible not to like Mesa Pizza. It's also very convenient to grab a delicious slice while heading to or from class. It's definitely a U of M student favorite!

Shuang Chang

If you're in the mood for Chinese food and you don't want to travel far, I suggest Shuang Chang. It's my favorite Asian restaurant in the area. Since it's nearby, my friends are always going to Shuang Chang for dinner, and I don't blame them! It's affordable and the portions are huge -- perfect for budget-conscious students who want to take leftovers home. 

The Purple Onion Cafe

If you need to do homework and eat, get a table at The Purple Onion Cafe. I study here all the time, because the atmosphere and great coffee is perfect for getting a lot of work accomplished. The menu is delicious, and includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner items. This popular spot is perfect for group projects, because you are able to meet with and talk to your classmates in a relaxed, stress-free environment.

Students Today, Leaders Forever (STLF), is a student group founded at the University of Minnesota that is devoted to leadership through "service, relationship, and action." STLF provides the opportunity to serve the community and travel across the nation through its Pay-It-Forward (PIF) Tours, which are held every year and are available on many University and high school campuses throughout the United States. The most popular college tours take place during spring break. I participated in a Pay-it-Forward Tour in high school, and I had so much fun that I decided to participate in another tour over spring break this year.

The tour is a road trip that takes you to a different city every day, where you participate in a variety of community service projects. Everyone I traveled with was extremely energetic, fun, and helpful. In just a week's time, I made many friends I know I'll have for the rest of my college career and maybe longer! Together, we made a difference in many communities as we traveled to our final destination: Memphis, Tennesee.

Every Pay-It-Forward Tour is a different experience. Buses travel to a variety of locations. This year, there were two U of M buses that had a destination (or 'celebration city') of Memphis, where we met with even more people on tours from other college campuses across Minnesota. We completed one final service project together in Memphis, celebrated, and shared the experiences of our nine days together on the tour. 

The tour brought my bus of 43 people to Indianola, IA; Kansas City, MO; Tulsa, OK; Dallas, TX; Little Rock, AR, and Memphis, TN. I chose to go on the Mystery Tour, where the cities we visit before Memphis are unknown until we arrive. Each day was a surprise. The typical day consists of 4 hours of service followed by tourism in whichever city we are in, as well as plenty of travel time to bond with others on the bus. At night, we slept in community centers and gymnasiams that were offered to us.

The service projects vary from person to person, but the ones I took part in included cleaning and talking to residents at a nursing home in Iowa and helping at the Gillis House in Missouri, a home for young boys under special circumstances who need a place to stay. I also worked outside in Tulsa, hauling mulch, loading rocks, and creating a trail for a campground that needed work. In Dallas, we contributed to a day of games and activities for special needs children and adults at their community center, and in Little Rock, we removed brush and vines that was harmful to the forestry of an area. It was heartwarming to see how much everyone appreciated us being there. 

Finally, in Memphis, our combined group of about 300 students volunteered to clean the streets of the city. The feeling of truly making a difference to so many people in each of these cities is amazing, and I encourage you to experience it for yourself!

The picture below shows my busmates and I at one of our project sites. We had so much fun together! For more information on Students Today, Leaders Forever, or to sign up for a tour yourself, click here.

PIF.jpg

Research at the University is conducted in every academic discipline. The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program allows undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct their own research or complete a creative activity. To help students get started with their ideas, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program offers workshops throughout the academic year. Students then write a proposal for research or a creative activity in any area of interest. If their proposal is approved, they will work in consultation with a faculty adviser and are also awarded stipends of up to $1,400 and paid expenses up to $300--an excellent opportunity for undergraduate students to get experience in their field, work with leading experts across our diverse array of majors, and get paid!

As the end of the spring semester approaches students are preparing to showcase their research findings. As part of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), over 250 undergraduate students will present their research findings next Wednesday in the Great Hall of Coffman Memorial Union. The Undergraduate Symposium offers undergraduate students a platform to showcase their results from research they've been conducting over the course of the past year. The symposium will highlight research accross a broad spectrum of topics from students in all of the University of Minnesota's colleges!

The Twin Cities have had the most beautiful weather this week! The last of the snow has finally melted and greenery is starting to peak out here and there. University of Minnesota students are starting to remove their parkas and venturing outside. When the weather gets nice, students hang out on the mall area playing frisbee, taking naps, and doing homework.

Spring time also brings some exciting events to campus. There are a bunch of things I am looking forward to during this last month of school:

Minnesota Royal
This week is Minnesota Royal, which is a week-long agriculture celebration on the St. Paul campus hosted by the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. Student groups participate in a number of contests including skits, Ag Challenge, Milkmaid Contest, Ag Olympics and Animal Calling, as well as showmanship contests. At the end of the week, there is a concert and the Queen and King of St. Paul are announced. I went to the concert last year and had a blast!

Relay for Life
For the past month or so, I have been gearing up and raising money for Relay for Life tomorrow night. Relay for Life is a celebration of life in honor of people whose lives have been touched by cancer. It involves teams of 8-20 people that take turns walking or running for 12 hours. Teams also compete to raise money before and during the event. This will be the third relay I have participated in, and I could not be more excited. I will let you know how it goes next week! 

Spring Jam
Spring Jam is another celebration that happens at the end of the year. It is a three-day long music festival including live performances, competitions, BBQs, outdoor movies, and more. So far, the Student Unions & Activities Board has announced two of the headliner bands--Trampled by Turtles and P.O.S. I always look forward to the Ballyhoo dance competition in which Greek teams perform original dance routines.

I will conclude the year with graduation. It will be a bittersweet but equally exciting day for me. I am looking forward to the commencement ceremony and receiving my diploma. It is going to be a busy and fun-filled spring!

The student groups of the St. Paul campus are currently participating in the annual Minnesota Royal. Minnesota Royal is a week-long event that dates back all the way to 1916, when it was known as Ag Royal. MN Royal consists of a number of competitions held throughout the week where different St. Paul student groups compete for bragging rights. The competitions include:

  • Royal Run
  • Ag Olympics              
  • Quiz Bowl
  • Organization Skits
  • MN Royal Royalty
  • Milk Maid Milking and Lipsync Contest
  • Showmanship
  • Celebrity Showmanship

MN Royal began yesterday, April 4th, and continues through the week until the closing award ceremony on Monday, April 11th. The events provide the students of the St. Paul campus the opportunity to compete, have fun, and connect with staff, faculty, and alumni. You can keep up to date on MN Royal events at their Facebook page.


Did you know that the University of Minnesota has a YouTube channel? In particular, I recommend checking out the "This Week @Minnesota" videos. They'll help you can stay up-to-date with what is happening at the U of M. Check out this week's video on spring fashions!

Also on the University of Minnesota YouTube page there are channels for the Academic Health Center, Goldy Gopher, and even the College of Biological Sciences! These channels highlight some of the many great opportunities and academics our students experience. For instance, the most recent video on the College of Biological Sciences channel highlights a scientist in the Panama studying tropical forest ecology.

One channel that I particularly enjoy viewing is for Radio K, the University of Minnesota's the award-winning, student-run radio station. The station plays an eclectic variety of independent music both old and new. On this channel, you can see in-studio performances by artists from our local area or traveling through the Twin Cities while on tour. Also, make sure to take a look at the Radio K homepage for information about artists, concerts and events going on around campus.

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Do you enjoy outdoor activites? Are you interested in learning more about the unique things that make the U of M special? Well here is your chance: the annual Gopher Adventure Race is back on campus for another year of fun and exploration!

The Gopher Amazing Race is a competition for students, faculty, staff, and alumni to experience the U of M in a new and exciting way. Participants of the race form teams and travel across the University of Minnesota campus (East Bank, West Bank, and St. Paul). Each team will have mental and/or physical challenges at selected spots across campus to solve.

This speicalized activity was created by students and staff in the Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies Department within the College of Education and Human Development. Students in the Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies program study health and wellness with activites that enhance the mind and body. Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies is one of the many majors in CEHD that prepares students to help people of all ages and backgrounds enjoy life to its fullest!

The University of Minnesota offers a variety of ways for students to gain professional development. With professional experience incorporated into the curriculum, students in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) are provided opportunities to gain professional experience and make connections through networking.

Beyond the classroom, a great way for students to gain additional experience is through our many student organizations. One such group is the CEHD Student Board. The CEHD Student Board is the governing body for all of the CEHD undergraduate student organizations and clubs. Members are able to represent CEHD students, groups, clubs, and organizations in meetings with the dean and other college leadership. Members also build the student community through special projects, events, and activities.

One of the events planned by the student board is called Making Connections. It is a breakfast event held on the morning of the U of M homecoming parade. This event is designed to allow undergradutes to meet with alumni of the college and build connections. 

CEHD Student Board is just one of the many great opportunities for students to get involved at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. To find out more about opportunities to get involved (and to browse our 600+ student groups) visit the Student Unions & Activities website.

The Mississippi River travels through the U of M campus and heart of the Twin Cities, and it is one of our community's greatest assets (and a beautiful one at that!). The University of Minnesota's unique position on the banks of the Mississippi also gives our students the opportunity to use the river for recreation and learning. Currently, Landscape Architecture students in the University's College of Design are studying the river as a prime example of how major cities interact with flooding.

Recently, Kare 11 News published a story showing just how our College of Design students are learning from their surroundings and gaining first-hand knowledge in the process. View the original Kare 11 news article, along with a video on the subject.

This is just one of the many ways in which University of Minnesota students are getting hands-on experience and studying real-world issues. Learn more about how the University of Minnesota is studying the Mississippi River through the River Life program!

My first day of class at the University I was very excited and very nervous all at the same. I had toured campus, attended summer orientation, but that day it became real that I was in college. I had an amazing experience as an undergraduate at the U of M. There is no doubt in my mind that I chose the best school for me.

I have had a blast during the past year working with students and families who are considering the University of Minnesota and the College of Science and Engineering. So, it is with sadness that I announce I am leaving the Office of Admissions to begin a new position. However, I am thrilled that this new position is still within the University! I am so happy that I will remain on campus, working in a different capacity for the College of Science and Engineering.

Seniors, I wish you the best of luck as you make your final college decisions this spring. I hope to see you on campus next fall (and in our CSE Ambassadors meetings!).

I've been asked many times this year why I chose the University of Minnesota. I find it hard to give a succinct answer, because I chose the U of M for so many reasons. This video does a great job of summing up all my answers to that question: Why the University of Minnesota?

So for now...Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu!


Forbes.com recently ranked Minneapolis as the Best City for Finding Employment. The unemployment rate in Minneapolis dropped by 0.7% from 2009 to 2010, which shows that an alread strong job market is improving. However, there are many more factors that contributed to Minneapolis's ranking.

Ajilon Professional Staffing, the recruiting firm which conducted the study, also considered the diversity of industries in the city, the cost of living, the range in size of companies offering employment, and the high level education of residents. These were equally weighed in the rankings.

Jodie Chavez, senior vice president of Ajilon says, "The quality of life in Minneapolis overall also tends to be high. The city has low crime rates and poverty rates and relatively low cost of living while being one of the major metropolitan centers of the Midwest. The Minneapolis-St. Paul market is in somewhat of a sweet spot of offering jobs with relatively high pay while having a low cost of living."

To help CSE students find amazing job opportunities, the College of Science and Engineering has a Career Center for Science and Engineering. The Career Center works specifically with companies hiring in the technical fields. Last fall, recruiters ranked the University of Minnesota within the top 10 best engineering schools, according to rankings in the Wall Street Journal.

University of Minnesota students are truly in a great place to begin their careers!

At the University of Minnesota, our students "do what matters". With over 700 student organizations and countless volunteer opportunities, there are abundant opportunities for students to make a difference on campus, in the community, and around the world. 

The Engage! website helps U of M students connect to engaging opportunities on and off campus. You can search by interest areas and read about current and former students' experiences.

Volunteering can help you develop your professional skills, build your resume and explore potential careers. If you are looking for ways to get connected to the Twin Cities community, check out our Community Service-Learning Office. The office connects students with volunteer opportunities around the Twin Cities.

Whether you're looking for community service projects, student organizations or activities on and off campus, the University of Minnesota has great opportunities for you!


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