Finding a home

By Amanda Duchsherer
Digital Communication Specialist

MINOT, N.D. – Financial security is what initially drew Forrest Weigel to the computer science program at Minot State.

“Growing up with the financial background I did, the one thing I wanted to do was create a secure income,” he said. “That’s really all I wanted when I sat down and weighed all my options. I was really good at math in high school so I knew that engineering or computer science were probably the best choices. I went for computer science because I also had an interest in computers.”

Deciding on a major was the easy part. Finding the courage to enroll was more difficult.

“I never thought computer science would be a career choice because I didn’t think I was knowledgeable enough or would excel in it,” Weigel said. “I was homeschooled, and that is also a bit of an interesting situation. I only have a GED and it’s because in my high school years, work became more important than schoolwork. I didn’t finish a lot of things that I should have.”

Weigel needn’t have worried. He currently is one of the top students in the computer science major, a testament to not only his intelligence but also to his tenacity.

“I took that step of faith and it’s worked out well,” he said.

Excelling in his studies and serving as president of the computer science club is just one piece of Weigel’s accomplishments.

“I’ve worked full time while in school to just provide for myself and my wife (Caitlyn [McDonald] Weigel ’20),” he said. “My first semester, I ended up paying out of pocket and ended up taking out some student loans. But every semester since then I’ve been fully funded through scholarships and grants.”

His strong desire to provide for himself and his family stems from his childhood. Born in Minot, Weigel and his family later moved to Oregon. The day they moved back, the 2011 Souris River flood began its rise. With a house still for sale in the Pacific Northwest and a shortage of housing in the community, options were limited.

“We ended up living in what we called our ‘shouse.’ It was a shop that we retrofitted into a home for myself, my two siblings, and my two parents to live in. It was really hard,” he said. “My little brother, when he was 7, the only thing he wanted for Christmas was running water and electricity.

“My family has gotten more secure and moved past that, but that has become a big motivation for why I do a lot of the things I do. I don’t ever want my kids to ask me for running water and electricity as a Christmas present.”

Despite — or maybe because of — such an adverse upbringing, Weigel has found a place to belong at Minot State.

“I like the small classes a lot. I have really good rapport with all of my professors, even in different departments, and carry on conversations with them about personal things,” he said. “I’m glad I stayed because I really love the community here, specifically Scott (Scott Kast, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science chair and assistant professor of computer science) and Darren (Darren Seifert, instructor of computer science). They have really fostered my intelligence and desire for knowledge.

“I’m glad that I’m here.”

About Minot State University
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 02/24/21   

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