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New students find friendship in unusual places

Isaac Asimov once said, "Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome." Whether we are dealing with the pleasantries of a new job, a new home or a new school, adjusting to different situations challenges young and old alike. Fortunately, new students at Minot State University have the opportunity to better manage such apprehension by attending "Transitions."

Transitions is part two of MSU orientation that introduces first-year students to campus and community resources vital to their achievement. On campus, participants locate key classrooms, labs and lecture halls, and learn about available services that contribute to a successful first year of university, such as the Gordon Olson Library, the Student Success Center, peer mentoring and tutoring options.

Equally important, is the off-campus activity to help students familiarize themselves with Minot and bond with new friends through the completion of a volunteer project.

"Part of the MSU's foundation is grooming students to become engaged community members, which can include helping an organization or individual. Part of our goal is to have new students understand that being involved in something outside themselves can be fun and have a large impact,' said Beth Odahlen, MSU Center for Engaged Teaching and Learning director. "Having that connection to the community right from the start is beneficial to both the student and the community."

Odahlen sends students to Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge near Kenmare to help with trail maintenance and build information kiosks and trail signs. Students also visit the Roosevelt Park Zoo to clean and build or repair animal habitats. She is also hoping to coordinate with a local church the opportunity for students to help with yard work in post-flood neighborhoods.

"At first the students are hesitant and don't understand the purpose of Transitions. We split them into smaller groups, and once they go, they begin to understand that it's not only about the volunteer aspect, it's about building relationships. They make new friends and meet people in the community, and they make connections," Odahlen said. "Once they build relationships, students feel more at home, like MSU is 'their place.'"

Odahlen estimates 350-400 students will participate in Transitions this August.

For more information or to discuss volunteer opportunities, contact Odahlen at beth.odahlen@minotstateu.edu.