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Hello Future Gophers!

My name is Jennifer Wang and I'm excited to introduce myself as the new student blogger for Gopher Tales. I will be sharing my U of M experiences with you, as well as spotlights on classes, student organizations, and campus events. Let's start with introductions first!

I am a junior in the Carlson School of Management majoring in marketing and minoring in retail merchandising. I'm a Minnesota-native from Woodbury, MN. I stay involved on campus through peer tutoring at the MacNamara Academic Center, being an active member of Alpha Kappa Psi, and through my internship in the Office of Admissions. (You can learn more about me by checking out my blogger bio.)

AKPsi, as we call it, is a professional co-ed business fraternity. Joining a student organization has been the best decision I've made in college. By joining AKPsi, I've surrounded myself with a network of like-minded, motivated business students who I also call my best friends. Being a part of AKPsi has definitely given me a community within the University.

Off campus, I am heavily involved with Chinese dance. My dance studio is called CAAM (Chinese American Association of Minnesota) Chinese Dance Theater and is a twenty-year-old non-profit organization. I have been dancing at CAAM for sixteen years and my involvement has ranged from dancing, to teaching, to volunteering. 

I am absolutely in love with the University of Minnesota and am so happy that I chose this school. I'm excited to be able to represent the U of M through my blog. Stay tuned for more updates coming soon!

Name: Eliza Grames

Picking Tangelos.jpgHometown: Esko, Minnesota

Majors: Professional Strategic Communication, Communication Studies, & Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management

Year of Expected Graduation: 2013

Why she chose the U of M: Eliza shares her main reasons for choosing the University of Minnesota: "The first was that it is located in the heart of the Twin Cities which means there is always something going on and plenty of job and internship opportunities. The second was the University Honors Program which opened up opportunities for smaller class sizes and involvement with faculty."

How she is involved at the U of M: I've been playing on the University of Minnesota Quizbowl Team for four years and served as the President of the team for two years. In my time with the team, I've developed friendships, traveled across the country for tournaments, gained leadership experience, and connected to other on-campus activities through Student Unions and Activities.

I also serve as an officer for an environmental student group on campus for students who are passionate about climate change issues. Our goal is to work with the University to transition away from fossil fuel dependency by raising awareness of climate change issues and leading a divestment campaign.

On-campus employment has also been valuable in connecting me to the University of Minnesota. I got to know one of my professors in the Department of Forest Resources through class, and she offered me a job doing communications for a branch of University of Minnesota Extension. In my position, I interact with professionals across the state, which helps to put a perspective on how valuable my time at the University of Minnesota is and how it can serve as a stepping stone for me to achieve my goals.

Highlight of her U of M experience so far: As I near graduation, I've been working on my honors thesis research project on climate-induced migration in Northwest Alaska. The experience has helped me to explore topics I'm interested in, gain confidence in my research and writing abilities, and develop relationships with professors in my field. I think that when I look back on my experience at the University of Minnesota, I'll remember the day-to-day aspects of student life and hanging out with friends, but what will stick out most is my thesis project because it's helping to shape my life goals and future plans.

Her advice to high school seniors: Don't decide what you want to major in right away. Look around and discover what is interesting to you, because if you study what you're interested in, your college experience will be more rewarding. You'll be excited to go to classes, you'll enjoy your internship experiences, and you'll be good at what you do because you'll love the topic that you're studying.

One of the best parts about being a student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, is the endless amount of opportunities for hands-on experiences that can be gained through classes, research opportunities, and student organizations. 

One great example of these types of opportunities is a recent project by five U of M students through the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC). During the fall semester of 2012, SJMC joined up with Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) to take a closer look at education in Minnesota and role that immigration plays in education and curriculum.  

Nearly 65,000 English learner students are enrolled in Minnesota schools, representing more than 200 native languages. Through the "Teaching the World in Minnesota" project, five U of M students explored the role that cultures, perspectives, and languages play in Minnesota's educational system. They conveyed their findings through stories, videos, and photos.  Check out their tumblr blog and the "Teaching the World in Minnesota" page on the Minnesota Public Radio website, to read more about their discoveries. 

The student contributors represent a diverse background of majors at the University of Minnesota, but all share a common interest in journalism. Alexandra Sobiech and Mike Zittlow are students in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Anthony Kwan is majoring in aerospace engineering, Frank Bi is studying computer science, and Alexander Holston is an individualized studies student with a focus in journalism, English, and social justice.

Name: Sheri Li

Sheri.jpg Hometown: Woodbury, MN

Major(s): Neuroscience

Year of expected graduation: 2016

Why she chose the U of M: It's funny, because I actually ruled out Minnesota at first because it was too close to home for me. In the end, I realized how much I love the campus. The great thing about college is that you can make it as close or as far away from home as you want it to be. Also, I love the Twin Cities! The University is located minutes from downtown Minneapolis, and is very close to St. Paul. Not only does this make an exciting environment, but it also brings a lot of companies to the University as well. The deciding factor for me was the wonderful opportunities that the University offered me and other National Merit Scholars. You simply can't get a better deal at a better school.

How she is involved at the U of M: So far I am involved in the Honors program, a student group called "U Students Like Good Food," and am involved in Admissions Ambassadors. I love how I get to express my interests here at the University. I'm a total food geek, yet no one really knew until I joined a club full of others who were passionate about the same things as me.

Highlight of her U of M experience so far: The hockey games! If you are a hockey fan, you'd love these. If you aren't a hockey fan, you'll still love these.

The winter weather and snow make the University of Minnesota campus more and more beautiful each day this holiday season! In a winter tradition that began last year, students in the College of Science and Engineering (CSE) celebrate the winter season with a dazzling light show: "Illumination." The students cover the entire Civil Engineering Building Plaza with lights, which are accompanied by music that is composed and performed by U of M students. This year, the show uses more than 100,000 LED lights! I visited the Premiere Party for this event, and I can say from experience that the lights were absolutely spectacular!

The Premiere Party took place on December 7 and included performances by student organizations at the U of M such as MinnesoTap and Serenade the City, as well as CSE's "Freezin' for a Reason" 5K runAll proceeds from the 5K Run were donated to the Amplatz Children's Hospital. After the Premeire Party, the light show ran every weekend in December. What a great way to bring the U of M campus community together during the holiday season!

Check out the video clips below to see some of the CSE students' excellent work! Happy Holidays!

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