Positive change made possible through collaboration
Two Bismarck natives from two different walks of life were searching for positive change. They each discovered the perfect outlet - Minot State University at Bismarck State College.
Brett Williamson went from the United States Marine Corps to the oil fields in Texas and then Williston. Burnt out, he headed home to Bismarck.
"I needed a change," Williamson said. "I decided to use my G.I. (Government Issue) bill, got my associate degree from BSC and took quite an interest in journalism and psychology, and that's when I learned about MSU psych at BSC."
Tyler Auck spent four years in Colorado before moving back to his hometown of Bismarck. A recovering drug addict, Auck spent a number of years trying in treatment. In 2011 he checked into the Heartview Foundation and completed the program.
"After I finished the program, my counselor told me I should go to school to be a counselor," Auck said. "Newly sober, I applied. I had a lot of catching up to do. I had to take five math classes before I could even take college algebra, but I did it. Most would drop out, but that wasn't an option for me. I sacrificed everything to go to school."
The ability to remain in Bismarck while earning a Minot State degree was key for both students. Williamson was in search of stability, being close to friends, and working with faculty with whom he was familiar.
"When I moved back to Bismarck, I got a house, found my old friends and developed great relationships with the faculty and staff at BSC," said Williamson. "When you're in your thirties, at the end of the day you want to go home. Minot State offered me that opportunity."
Auck was also in search of stability, as well as the support network he built over the years.
"It's so nice that everything is so accessible," Auck said. "I take night classes, work my job, work at a recovery coach program and speak at a number of events. It's so important to break down the barriers between drug addicts and police officers."
The collaboration between MSU and BSC benefitted both Williamson and Auck in a number of ways. They are well acquainted with faculty and have the option of taking evening or online classes to fit their schedules. While they have remained at BSC, they feel as if they are part of Minot State.
"Dr. Paul Markel (MSU psychology professor and Bismarck psychology coordinator) does a great job making us feel like we are part of MSU," said Williamson. "BSC is so accepting of us and allows us to use all of its resources. The two institutions ensured it so we don't lose a step in transition."
"It's just a wonderful program," Auck said. "It's so nice to have a university like Minot State right here for us in Bismarck."