Presidential Leadership Scholars: Fall 2019

Hanna Antonsen

Hanna AntonsenHometown: Choteau, Montana

Major: Undeclared

What led you to choose UM? Every time I visited Missoula with my family, my parents would always remind me of this being such a special town because it was the place where I was born.  Where else can you see diversity in beliefs and people come together in harmony? Now you add an amazing university to an amazing town and you get UM.

What led you to choose you major? I enjoy the sciences and the idea of being in the medical field.  I also love to debate and can see myself attending law school. 

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? Attending medical school or law school. 

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? I would significantly reduce the cost of medical care and prescription medication and increase funding for the cure of rare diseases.  I would make these changes because I have seen the hardships of medical expenses creates and the disappointment one gets when they learn a cure could be years away.    

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? I would like to thank my dad for helping me keep cool, calm and collected during stressful times.  He has taught me to never give up on truly important goals and how to recognize what is truly important.  I would like to thank my mom for helping me understand my potential by encouraging me to step outside my comfort zone.  

Nicole Bealer

Nicole BealerHometown: Conroe, Texas

Major: Wildlife Biology

What led you to choose UM? I chose University of Montana because of its unique combination of academic reputation in my major of Wildlife Biology and its wonderful surrounding city and area. I first heard of UM through my coworkers at Colorado Parks & Wildlife while interning on a research project, where my coworkers spoke of its standing as one of the top wildlife programs in the country. After researching and applying to UM, I visited and was impressed by the wildlife faculty, as well as the local city vibes and beautiful mountainous surroundings. The combination of academics and surroundings lead me to choose UM as my final choice!

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? After I graduate from UM with a degree in Wildlife Biology, I imagine that at age 25 I will likely be in graduate school or continuing to work as a technician to gain more experience.

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? If I could change anything in the world, I would want to put an end to climate change and the harrowing environmental damage that humans inflict on the planet every day.

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? I would like to thank my parents, my brother, my friends, and my wildlife mentors for helping me on my way to where I am now.

Matthew Bell

Hometown: Colgate, Wisconsin

Major: Wildlife Biology

 

Aubrey Benson

Aubrey BensonHometown: Portland, Oregon

Major: Undeclared: Nature-Based Exploratory Studies Program

What led you to choose UM? When I first visited the UM campus, I was hooked by how welcoming and natural the environment felt to me compared to the other schools I have visited. A strong sense of community and belonging is something everyone wants in their lives, and at UM I felt like I finally had found my place where I could thrive. As I learned about the ample nature-based classes and opportunities for outdoor field study or work, I excitedly began to envision my life at UM: learning about the natural world during the weekdays and exploring them hands-on during my time off. 

What led you to choose that major? All my life I have juggled a myriad of mostly short-lived interests. However, in the past two years, participating in immersive outdoor conservation work program which have led me to discover that my passion is protecting the Earth’s natural resources and ecosystems. I am excited to explore my options within this field while at UM. 

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? At age 25 I hope to have found a motivating career within a community of like-minded, goal-oriented individuals who share a passion of protecting Mother Nature. I can imagine a lot of different possible versions of myself at age 25: advocating for environmental policy change, doing field work in the wilderness or developing some system that increases sustainability. I also hope that I am able to continue to incorporate my passion for music into my adult life. 

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? From my life experiences, it seems as though many of the issues in our world stem from a lack of understanding or a misunderstanding between people and others’ ideas. If I could change something in the world, I would increase the willingness of every individual to learn and understand new ideas, myself included. 

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? My life would be significantly worse without the people in it that have supported me through thick and thin. I am very grateful for my parents and the independence they have taught me and support they have always offered, my three older siblings for always giving me good life advice, and all of my past instructors, leaders, and mentors for teaching me about the value of hard work as well as my potential.

Karter Bernhardt

Karter BernhardtHometown: Billings, Montana

Major: Psychology and Media Arts. I would also love to get a minor in dance if I have the time.

What led you to choose UM? I actually had some very determined out-of-state dreams before my college search. UM was the only school in Montana I even thought about considering for staying in state. After a few visits and some very profound talks with staff and students there, I realized it would be the perfect place for me to achieve what I want to in my undergraduate studies.

What led you to choose that major? The psychology part comes from taking AP Psychology my senior year and absolutely loving it. The dichotomy of empiricism and subjectivity in the field really drew me in. The media arts part comes from my predisposition toward beauty and art. Of all the art forms I respect media (most specifically film) the most because it is the medium of all mediums. It draws every creative outlet imaginable into one place to portray some of the most beautiful and devastating narratives we know and love. 

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? At age 25, I see myself being happy. I have never been one to set a plan or envision a successful path because that all seems too predetermined to me. Yes, I would love to be working on a film set or researching at an Ivy League, but I do not have the right to tell myself this early on that that will make me happy. That is why when I’m 25, I hope to just be happy and content wherever I am with whatever I am doing. 

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? If there was one thing I could change about the world, it would be the senseless, recurrent violence of humans. Humans hurting humans only results in more hurt humans than there were before. I see no need for physical violence or dominance enforced by violence in the world. If I could make the human tendency toward violence disappear completely, I would. 

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? I have been fortunate enough to encounter many life-changing and special people throughout my life, but I cannot put anyone else in this spot except my parents. They are my lifeline and rock; my bread, butter and water. They are everything to me, and they are the people I never have to doubt are on my side. I love my family with all of my heart and without them I wouldn’t be who I am.

Hannah Christman

Hannah ChristmanHometown: Helix, Oregon

Major: Neuroscience

What led you to choose UM? My older sister had attended UM, graduating with a degree in Exercise Science. She spoke highly of the University, and prompted me to apply. Additionally, UM was affordable while still providing great programs for education as well as a connected community. It seemed like not only a safe choice, but a good choice.

What led you to choose that major? My family has always had many ties to the medical field: My grandmother was a nurse; My mother is a nurse; Both my aunt and my sister are physical therapists, etc. It seemed that I was meant to follow them because math and science classes come easily to me, and I actually find enjoyment in learning about the human body. In 2011, though, my father was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. This impacted all of our lives; however, most importantly, it inspired me to look into the disease and other neurological/autoimmune diseases, helping me develop an interest in the subject. Now, I would like to aid others who have been affected by accidents, traumas, and illnesses, perhaps none too different from my own father's.

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? By 25, I will have obtained my bachelor's and will be in medical school somewhere in the nation. So, I'll still be in school, though it would be toward the end of my schooling. Maybe I'll have a family by then, maybe not -- my only hope is that I'll be helping people in whatever ways I am capable.

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? I would like to make amusement parks less expensive because everyone should have a chance to have fun on a roller coaster at some point of life. However, if a more serious answer is being sought for, I guess I would like teachers to have better pay. I am where I am now -- receiving scholarships, going to college -- only due to the efforts of my teachers, the people who taught me kindergarten to senior year. I have a lot of respect for them.

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? I'd mainly like to thank my parents, Angela and Gary Christman, for always telling me I can do more than I believe. They've both played a huge role in my schooling and my self confidence. I'd also have to thank my parents-away-from-home, Jeff and Sharilyn Newtson, for supporting me at school, at work and in sports. Thank you guys for always having your door open.

Clint Conners

Clint ConnorsHometown: Butte, Montana

Major: Journalism and Media Arts (digital filmmaking track)

What led you to choose UM? Of the schools in Montana, UM seemed like the best for Journalism and Film.  With its interactive courses and distinguished professors, becoming a Griz was a no-brainer.

What led you to choose that major? With politics more heated and unpredictable than ever, journalism has become increasingly fascinating to me. There seems to be great esteem in delivering the world’s greatest stories first hand.  I’ve also enjoyed watching movies and finding out the behind-the-scenes process.  Great reward can be had from making your audience laugh and cry, so I chose Media Arts to become involved in the filmmaking process.

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? I imagine myself as a college graduate, reporting the news and making independent films.

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? I would change government and society to be less partisan, allowing people on both sides of the isle to compromise, find common ground and make genuine progress.

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? Thank you to my parents for supporting me through my whole life. You’ve taught me the value of hard work and compassion, two values that I hold dear to my heart. However, you also remind me to relax and have fun, which I forget to do sometimes. None of what I achieved would be possible without your love and words of wisdom.

Taylor Curry

Taylor CurryHometown: Great Falls, Montana

Major: French and Political Science

What led you to choose UM? Choosing UM involved meeting with faculty from my intended major as well as conversing with students and alumni about their views; however, a fantastic scholarship sways the opinion as well! 

What led you to choose that major? I am pursuing French because my french tutor taught me how important other languages and cultures become when acting as a global citizen. Political Science ties in the pragmatism of lawmaking and international relations when wanting to promote worldwide change. 

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? After age 25, I hope to be continuing my final layer of education through graduate school or serving as a government official dealing with francophone countries. 

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? The most pressing matter that is integral to the health of our globe is climate change. I would like to see comprehensive legislation involving specifics like single-use plastics and carbon emissions come into effect. 

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? In keeping with my collegiate path, I extend gratitude towards my French tutor, Mrs. Kathy Jackson, who ameliorated my humanity and speaking abilities while providing strong academic and personal support. 

Shea Dolan

Shea DolanHometown: Billings, Montana

Major: Chemistry

What led you to choose UM? I have grown up loving U of M. My dad is a former football player, and my mom is a graduate of the University of Montana as well. 

What led you to choose that major? My high school chemistry teacher, Kari Field.

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? I plan on pursuing a career in the medical field.

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? I want to live in an all eco-friendly, world that is free of pollution, because I think that taking care of the planet is a very important part of society today. 

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? I would like to thank my dad for encouraging me to take challenging courses through high school. Because of my dad pushing me, I feel well prepared for college. 

Sabine Englert

Sabine EnglertHometown: Boise, Idaho

Major: Political Science with an emphasis on social justice and international relations

What led you to choose UM? I have always loved Montana. I grew up going there every summer, and I have lots of family that have made their home under its big sky. UM has good academics, beautiful outdoors close by and a welcoming environment! Plus, there’s a lot of huckleberries. A win-win situation!

What led you to choose that major? I’ve always been passionate about equal rights, whether they are for humans or for the environment. I’ve done a lot of work in this area so far, including being the president of my schools Young Democrats club. In addition, I was a part of Teen Council through Planned Parenthood, where I learned to be a peer resource for comprehensive sex ed! I think that being politically active permits individuals to make greater impacts on society by allowing their voices to be heard more clearly. I hope to make a real difference in politics by fighting for the rights of everyone around me.

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? I hope that I will take a break for a few years from school to travel. I want to go to places that get me out of my comfort zone and allow me to learn as much as I can about the rest of the world outside of my sheltered existence in the U.S. Traveling to new places will be a powerful way to cement my priorities toward the greater good. If I’m not still traveling when I’m 25, I hope to be using what I learned to be a successful campaign manager or politician.

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? This is a hard decision, but I think that a top priority worldwide should be protecting the environment and ensuring the success of the natural world. I would change humankind’s general attitude of the earth being a mere resource for us to use and abuse at our leisure. The success of humankind relies on the success of nature. It isn’t right that the other species inhabiting the earth should have to suffer because of our greed and unwillingness to change our behavior. 

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? My creative writing teacher, Mrs. Hanson, has always been someone I could rely on. She never failed to make me feel validated and important, and always listened to me and treated me like an adult. She held me responsible for my own success and made me realize the importance of self motivation. In addition, my government teacher, Mrs. Hutchinson, always trusted me and believed in my potential. I always knew I could turn to her if I needed anything, and could always count on her to make me laugh. Both of these wonderful teachers helped me realize what I want to do with my life and showed me what it really means to be a powerful woman. 

Amelia Evavold

Amelia EvavoldHometown: Foxboro, Wisconsin

Major: Wildlife biology

What led you to choose UM? I chose University of Montana because, not only does it have one of the top Wildlife Biology programs, but it has related organizations such as the Wildlife Society, ongoing research in the surrounding area, and countless opportunities for outdoor activities. 

What led you to choose that major? I have spent a lot of time outside throughout my life, whether going on a month long camping trip or attending an environmental semester school. Through these experiences I have become very appreciative of and curious about the natural world, leading me to major in Wildlife Biology.

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? At age 25 I imagine myself attending a graduate program to get a master's degree in a science-related field. I hope that by this age I have helped with some research projects and have experienced wildlife biology field work. 

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? If I could change one thing about the world, it would be to make the overall culture of the world move away from consumption and consumerism and toward frugality and sustainability.  

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? I would like to thank my parents for immersing me in the outdoors starting at a young age, no matter how inconvenient it may have been to bring such a little kid on a camping trip. It is only because of this that I have found something I am so passionate about. 

Aubrey Frissell

Aubrey FrissellHometown: Polson, Montana

Major: Fine Arts

What led you to choose UM? The flourishing arts community in Missoula has inspired me to become involved with several public art projects over the years. The lively community and thriving culture led me to choose UM, and I look forward to getting more involved with it.

What led you to choose that major? I’ve always been interested in telling impactful stories through art and writing. 

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? I hope to find an effective way to tell stories in an artistically meaningful way, whether it be through illustrated books, public art, or whatever other mediums prove most effective.

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? I would want to inspire people to learn more about the world they inhabit. A society with a greater understanding of history and the functions of government would become a more effective, fair democracy. 

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? I would like to thank my brother, Peregrine, for guiding me at an early age. He set a powerful example for me, teaching me the importance of hard work and treating others with kindness and respect.

Beatrix Frissell

Beatrix FrissellHometown: Polson, Montana

Major: Ecosystem Science and Restoration

What led you to choose UM? My love for Montana and the culture in Missoula drew me to the University of Montana. Growing up in Montana, I’ve always loved the fact that I can go hiking and enjoy the outdoors so close to home and living in Missoula allows me to do that, as well as learn in an interactive environment that is so vital to my major.

What led you to choose that major? As a young child, I loved fly fishing with my dad along the river at our favorite campground, Alta, in the Bitterroot National Forest. As I have grown older so has my passion for nature, and with it my knowledge of how uncertain the future of places like the Bitterroot National Forest are. Hit by issues like climate change, invasive species and loss of biodiversity, I am devastated knowing that without action, we could lose habitats that contain some of the most beautiful creatures in the world -- habitats that have shaped who I am. With this knowledge, I have developed an obligation to making our world a better place so that future generations can see the beauty I have been so privileged to see.

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? I would like to be working in the field or in the courts as an environmental scientist or lawyer and make a difference by educating others on the impact of environmental issues like climate change, as well as making sure we deal with these issues accordingly.

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? I would instill in everyone the obligation to help others so that we could work together to make the world a more fair and equal place. Too many people feel they are entitled to what they have in life and don’t realize how lucky they are - I believe that if more people realized the necessity behind helping others we would live in a much more positive world.

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? My older brother, Peregrine, has been a vital role model to me throughout the years and has inspired me to be so active in activities from student government to Key Club, as well as helping me during my struggles. Further, my parents have also played a special role in instilling the solid values I hold and shaping me to be who I am. I would like to thank all of them for helping me so much these last few years and giving critical advice and support in times of need. 

Lillian Krach

Lillian KrachHometown: Bozeman, Montana

Major: Double major in Wildlife Biology and Ecosystem Science and Restoration

What led you to choose UM? I chose UM because of its sense of community, the opportunities provided through the Davidson Honors College, and the incredible wildlife biology program

What led you to choose that major? I have always nature and as I have traveled more I have realized the impermanence of it. Double majoring in wildlife biology and ecosystem science and restoration will allow me to educate myself not only on what I’m passionate about, but assist me to help preserve what nature we have left.

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? I plan to attend grad school, hopefully conducting research to obtain my master’s or PhD. I’m not positive what specific area in which I’d like to apply my degree, but I hope to somehow make a difference in preserving the environment and the species they hold.

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? Probably extinguish greed. I think, greed is what causes most political, moral, and social discontent and discourse.

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? Jacob Malcyzk, my choir high school teacher, has guided me through the last four years of high school and taught me to trust myself and step outside of my bubble. Furthermore, he has made such a an impact on my life through music. I cannot be thankful enough for all he taught me — in music and in life. Although this may sound tacky, my parents have probably made the largest impact on my life. My parents are very much their own people and have always supported me. Through them I have had incredible examples to look up to, both in extremely different lifestyles. I have become much more independent in consequence to my parent’s divorce, a quality that I have come to appreciate deeply as I transition into the next chapter of my life. Thank you for always believing me.

Clara McRae

Clara McRaeHometown: Helena, Montana

Major: Political Science and History with a minor in Climate Change Studies

What led you to choose UM? I chose UM because it is affordable and will allow me to pursue study abroad and travel opportunities without the financial constraints I would have at a school in another state. I also love the Missoula community and outdoor opportunities that the area has to offer. 

What led you to choose that major? I chose Political Science and History because, not only is it what I’m interested in, but it will help me build my critical thinking and analysis skills and provide a good base for either grad school or the workforce. I chose the Climate Change Studies minor because I was born and raised in Montana, and I am interested in learning more about how our ecosystem is being impacted by climate change, and what I can do to help preserve the land for future generations. 

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? I imagine myself in some form of graduate school, maybe working towards a law degree or masters in public policy. 

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? If I could change anything about the world I would make it a more understanding and less polarized place. I would like to see a world where people with differing opinions could have genuine conversations about the issues that they disagree on without screaming at each other. I think it’s important to focus on what brings us together rather than what divides us. 

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? I would like to thank my parents, Beth and Kevin. They always push me to work harder and be a better person. 

Isabelle Melton

Isabelle MeltonHometown: Helena, Montana

Major: Political Science with an international relations and comparative politics emphasis 

What led you to choose UM? I have a family heritage associated with UM; both my parents obtained their undergraduate and graduate degrees here, and my uncle and cousins also graduated from UM. During my college search, I focused on schools that emphasized a liberal arts education with an interdisciplinary focus and that also had a vital theatre community. UM provides all those things while also offering an amazing pre-law advising program and outstanding honors college. Plus, I love Missoula.

What led you to choose that major?My passion for this subject comes from experiences in the lives of those I love. My aunt immigrated from Syria in the 1970s carrying everything she owned in a tape-wrapped box and not speaking a word of English. Eight years later she started college and is now a successful doctor and one of my heroes. She is a textbook story of the American Dream. I am concerned over our government’s recent changes in policy that make living this dream more difficult for people like my aunt, which spurred my interest in political science and international relations.

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? When I am 25, I will have graduated from law school and imagine beginning a federal appellate clerkship that will lead to service as a clerk at the United States Supreme Court.

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? If I could change anything in the world, I would wave a magic wand and end discrimination in all its forms. This would allow people to rise above their circumstances and would help knock down barriers to equal opportunity in our country and others.

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? I owe everything to my parents. They are first generation university graduates who put themselves through college and are the most loving, generous and hard-working people I know.

Reed Miller

Hometown: Kalispell, Montana

Major: Economics & Psychology

What led you to choose UM? I chose UM because of its affordability and incredible opportunities internationally and within the community of Missoula.

What led you to choose that major? Economics and Psychology have interested me for years, and the growing field of behavioral economics has produced some fascinating research that sheds light on what exactly it means to be human.

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? At 25, I imagine myself teaching English in Japan or South Korea, or working as a policy consultant for a politician or community-minded organization.

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? If I could change anything in the world, I'd have more wise and compassionate mentors consistently present that would have the time and energy to listen to their mentees and share their own insights.

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? Sean O'Donnell, my Speech & Debate coach for the past four years, has been an incredible mentor who has guided me to become more knowledgeable, more articulate, a better leader, and truly appreciate the value of community.

Lucas Palmer

Lucas PalmerHometown: Great Falls, Montana

Major: Journalism

What led you to choose UM? My parents, brother, and sister have all attended UM. I grew up visiting Missoula on weekends, holidays and summer breaks. I knew I loved the environment in Missoula, and when I visited the campus in February, I knew I would love the environment at UM, too. The people are collaborative, intelligent and friendly. Plus, I’m excited to take advantage of every opportunity from one of the best journalism schools in the country.

What led you to choose that major? For as long as I could flip through an issue of National Geographic, I have been fascinated by photography, politics, and international cultures. In fourth grade, I was admitted to a program allowing me to write for the school newspaper. Since then, I have had a vested interest in being part of something bigger than myself. By studying Journalism at UM, I want to learn how to answer questions about identity through photography and filmmaking, and I want to explore new perspectives across various cultures. I hope that through my expository writing about global issues I can change the world, one political piece at a time.

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? If all goes well in my first four years of school, I see myself continuing my education with either law school or grad school. If I’m not in school, I want to be traveling, finding a job or career where I can see different parts of the world. I want to reach out to people in different cultures and bring their struggles to light. I want to make a difference for people who usually get overlooked. Hopefully, I can make a career out of one of my passions.

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? I would want to build a more open-minded society. We are all humans, and we should all care about each other. Just because you don’t understand what someone is going through, whether they’re across the world or right next door, that doesn’t make their experiences any less real or important. We need to be more empathetic.

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? I’d like to thank every single staff member at my high school, Paris Gibson Education Center, for treating their students like family. I would have never made it without the support of Paris. I’d especially like to thank the principal, Drew Uecker, who encouraged me to aim higher, because he knew I could. My advisor, Ami Vick, who never gave up on me, despite my many setbacks. My JMG teacher, Yenta Jaques, who saw my potential and made sure I saw it, too. And my sister, Serena Palmer, who has inspired me for the past 19 years; not just as a big sibling, but as an incredibly strong, determined and passionate person that I aspire to be like one day. 

Jack Person

Jack PersonHometown: Lolo, Montana

Major: Business administration with a minor in music performance.

What led you to choose UM? Getting to know the campus and the people of UM throughout my life has definitely been my biggest reason for going here, but I also couldn't imagine spending my college years anywhere other than Missoula.

What led you to choose that major? Street performing in downtown Missoula as a kid made me realize how good it felt to make my own money, so I think that was the start of my love for business. In high school, being a member of DECA helped me get much better at every aspect of business, especially interview skills, networking and professionalism.

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25?  Ideally at age 25, I'd own a hot air balloon company, but realistically I think I would just be selling them at that point.

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? If I could change anything in the world, I would get rid of pollution. Not only marine pollution that hurts sea life, but light and air pollution as well. Not only would it would be a great start to helping the environment, but with less light pollution the stars would be incredible every night.

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? My DECA advisor and marketing teacher, Mr. Hartman, has played a significant role in my life, because if I hadn't taken his class and joined Sentinel DECA, I wouldn't know half of what I do now about business. His teaching made me very interested in finance, and he taught his students about real life outside of high school. Because of Mr. Hartman, I studied business, investments and scholarships outside of class constantly, and because of him I got my first job at Herberger's, an internship at the Montana World Trade Center, and this incredible scholarship from the U of M. I am incredibly grateful for having him as a teacher. Thank you, Mr. Hartman!

Elizabeth Riddle

Elizabeth RiddleHometown: Nashville, Tennessee

Major: Wildlife Biology

What led you to choose UM? I was drawn to UM by the university’s commitment to the environment and the wealth of programs within environmental science fields. I’ve known I wanted to do environmental science for a long time, so I knew I’d found the right place at UM when I saw they were just as passionate about the planet as I am.  

What led you to choose that major? The summer between my junior and senior year, I worked with a wildlife biology research lab at Tennessee State University. I absolutely loved my time there; I learned all about field work and researching wildlife. I’ve always been passionate about animals, so I was thrilled to find this field and this program at UM that so perfectly fit my interests. 

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? I imagine myself conducting research or reporting untold stories from some remote region of the world. 

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? If I could change anything in the world, I would increase the level of compassion people have for people and things that are different from them or don’t necessarily affect them. I think at the root of many of society’s problems is a lack of compassion, and instead apathy, toward issues that don’t directly impact certain individuals. I think this “not my problem” attitude is to the detriment of our planet and our global community.

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? I’d like to thank, of course, my parents for always supporting my endeavors no matter how crazy they often seemed, but I must also thank my teachers and mentors who helped me every step of the way throughout the last four years. Specifically, Mr. Hedglin and Mr. Lovell at my high school, Hume-Fogg, because they were confident in me when I wasn’t, they pushed me to step out of my comfort zone, and they always reminded me of my own ability and determination.

Ailey Robinson

Ailey RobinsonHometown: Lolo, Montana

Major: Physics

What led you to choose UM? I originally wanted to go out of state since I live in Lolo and wanted a different experience. After taking a campus tour I realized I was trying to find someplace exactly like Missoula and nothing fit too well. Some got really close but, I love the environment of Missoula and I'm not quite ready to leave it. I have also been working with professors in the Physics and Astronomy department for the past few years so, I wanted to continue those relationships that I have made with the professors. 

What led you to choose that major? Growing up I wanted to be a hairdresser but after years of watching Bill Nye, listening to my parents talk about Carl Sagan, and stargazing at Flathead, I changed my mind. I did a project on the theory of a multiverse in eighth grade just to delve a little deeper into physics and I loved it. 

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? Hopefully I'll be on my way to a Ph.D. in astrophysics. I'm don't have a good idea as to where I'll be but I imagine someplace on the coast.

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? I would want to change how people consume media. Media can be a beautiful tool if its used correctly and respected but, there is so much media that puts down groups of people and spreads false information. People have  more information at their fingertips than ever before but a large part of that is causing body image issues, anxiety and false information that can be dangerous on both an individual and a collective scale. 

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? I'd like to thank my parents, of course, for supporting me throughout my education so far. They have played a major part in my interests as well as my work ethic. I would also like to thank Dr. Nate McCrady and Dr. Paul Janzen of the Physics and Astronomy Department at UM for mentoring me throughout the past three years and for helping me take my first steps into the field of physics. I owe much of my experience to them and I most definitely would not be where I am without their kind generosity and immense patience.

Allison Simko

Allison SimkoHometown: El Dorado Hills, California

Major: Undeclared

What led you to choose UM? I chose UM because of the welcoming community it’s part of. Everyone seems very friendly and makes it easy to get involved and make a difference in the community. I also love the campus and variety of programs that are offered. 

What led you to choose that major? I want to explore all of my options!

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? When I am 25 my dream is to join the Peace Corp after college. 

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? If I could change anything about the world, I would stop the degradation of the environment.

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? I’d like to thank my mom and dad for their constant support and the wonderful women at the nonprofit Hands4Hope who taught me what it means to become a leader.

Kelsey Stansberry

Kelsey StansberryHometown: Carmen, Idaho

Major: Ecosystem Science and Restoration

What led you to choose UM? I chose UM for the amazing outdoor recreation, the liberal arts community, and the quality of programs offered that suit my interests.

What led you to choose that major? My major choice is heavily influenced by the environment I grew up in, science classes, my summer job with Salmon Valley Stewardship, and my parents.

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? When I'm 25, I will be finishing up grad school and looking to work abroad in some ecosystem/community that needs help. Or, looking for any work opportunity with the Environmental Protection Agency.

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? If I could change anything in the world, I would change everyone's mindset to having a keen awareness of climate change and give them motivation to convert to clean energy so our natural world will stay beautiful and healthy.

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? I would like to thank my mom and dad for encouraging and supporting me towards this path and I would also like to thank Ms. Arlene Wolf for inspiring the activist inside me. 

Faith Sullivan

Faith SullivanHometown: Yakima, Washington

Major: Elementary Education

What led you to choose UM? I chose UM because I love the feel of the campus and how friendly and kind all of the staff members are, UM felt like home.

What led you to choose that major? I chose this major because I had the opportunity to be in a kindergarten classroom four days a week and I loved it, it was the best part of my day getting to help each of the students learn and grow throughout the year.

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? At 25 I imagine that I will be in my own classroom, and I will be going back to school to get my master’s degree.

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? If I could change anything in the world it would be to make sure everyone felt that they were loved. 

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? My high school teacher Mrs. Diana Anson played a special role in my journey, she encouraged me to take the class where I was in an elementary class four days a week, she also believed that I could do anything. 

Emma Thissen

Emma ThissenHometown: Kodiak, Alaska

Major: Wildlife Biology

What led you to choose UM? Deciding which University to attend wasn’t a difficult choice for me, and a lot of it has to do with the community. Between the mountains, the people, the campus and the abundance of dogs in and around town, I decided Missoula was the right place for me when I lived here during my senior year of high school. 

What led you to choose that major? I chose Wildlife Biology because I like animals, I like plants and I love to be outside. I'm an avid fisher and hunter, and I even commercial fish on a boat in the summertime. Hopefully, a degree in wildlife biology will allow me to help protect the wild populations that I care about! I can’t wait to be a part of UM’s incredible program and I can’t think of a better environment to study in.

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? At age 25, I hope to be pursuing my master's/Ph.D. in some facet of wildlife biology, and continuing to spend my summers commercial fishing in my home state of Alaska. I'll be having plenty of adventures along the way!

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? Empathy goes a long way, and moving forward I hope to change the world - even a little bit - by encouraging happiness and compassion in all avenues of life as catalysts for change. Hopefully, my future studies, research and involvement at UM and in the DHC will help me in this.

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? I would like to thank Carmen Thissen. She’s my sister, best friend and she’s taking my dog next year while she finishes up her senior year at UM. I couldn’t be more grateful. My parents are all right too!

Mariah Thomas

Hometown: Helena, Montana

Major: Journalism

 

Elizabeth Todd

Elizabeth ToddHometown: Oakland, California

Major: Environmental Science and Business, and minoring in Nonprofit Administration.

What led you to choose UM? I choose UM first off for their incredible soccer program that I am excited and proud to be a part of soon. I also choose UM for the beautiful location, in between mountains and forests. The campus is comforting, clean and someplace where I am excited to walk through and call my home. On top of all of that, the great academics and academic support available to me at UM. The environmental connection is my personal favorite part. I wanted a college that is in touch with environmental justice and service. 

What led you to choose that major? I choose UM first off for their incredible soccer program that I am excited and proud to be a part of soon. I also choose UM for the beautiful location, in between mountains and forests. The campus is comforting, clean, and someplace where I am excited to walk through and call my home. On top of all of that, the great academics and academic support available to me at UM. The environmental connection is my personal favorite part. I wanted a college that is in touch with environmental justice and service. 

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? At age 25 I see myself changing the world through fresh produce in communities that are in food deserts. Or in a foreign country working in the Peace Corps to help people who have been harmed by war or disease or famine and how to shape their future community into a sustainable one. Or if politics don't get much better, being the president of the United States of America, again saving America and the world from our own destructive nature. 

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? If I could change anything in the world it would be people's attitudes. I wish that all people could accept and respect other people and be able to listen to others and be patient. If there was a mistake made it could be fixed and lives could be saved instead of thrown aside. 

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? I would like to thank amazing women, inspirational models, I have seen in my life that has created huge tsunamis in the world for a better change. They are the true visionaries and people that can make the world a better place. 

Wyatt Walters

Wyatt WaltersHometown: Vaughn, Montana

Major: Biology on the Pre-Med track

What led you to choose UM? When touring there and talking to representatives in the honors college, I felt welcomed. They calmed my worries about college and my future and explained to me how they would help me in this next step in my life. I could see myself spending the next four years of my life at UM, and making great memories along the way.

What led you to choose that major? My high school teacher Mrs. Warren instilled a love of science and, in particular, a love of biology. I want to further my knowledge in the subject and use it as a gateway into a medical career.

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? I imagine myself being a pediatric resident, working in the service of people.

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? I would change the world to make public education a service to all, and for that public education to be effective. Everyone has the right to learn, and a universal education system would foster success of the human race on a global scale. Inspiring intellectuals could use their newly developed skills to benefit their local communities, cities and nations. Making a strong education available to all establishes a foundation for solving the world’s issues, such as hunger, pollution and large scale conflict.

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? I would like to thank my Dad (Michael Walters), Grandmother (Kay Walters), and Mom (Miriam Walters) for inspiring me to become the person I am today. They all made their own unique lasting impact on the person I am. I love you Mom. I love you Dad. I love you Nana.

Ben Wambeke

Ben WambekeHometown: Cody, Wyoming

Major: Musical Theatre

What led you to choose UM? I chose UM because of three reasons. The first and simplest is because I love the area. It’s close enough to the wilderness that I call home while still having a different, specifically northwestern element. It’s simply breathtaking. The next is because I heard about and witnessed UM’s amazing theatre program, which interested me greatly. The final is because it was a college I knew I would have no longtime friends or even relatives at. It was a chance for me to start over. I love my friends and my life, but I feel ecstatic at the idea of completely reinventing myself -- of putting the real me out there, free of preconceived notions and seeing what people think. 

What led you to choose that major? I am majoring in Musical Theatre. For me, it was never really a choice. I love many aspects of life: science, english, music, foreign language, social studies and journalism. But none connect to me in a way such as theatre. Only being on stage, bare and open for an audience, gives me the feeling of everything in life being right. It’s a feeling I couldn’t live without.

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? I would bring more diversity to my town and state. It’s hard to change your mind or to unlearn bigoted teachings when nothing challenges your viewpoint or way of life. To truly come to understand other members of the human race, we must encounter each other face to face and work it out. Many people in my town simply have never had the option.

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? I would like to quickly thank a great number of my teachers, my directors, my dance teacher Liz Fernandez, Mrs. Ann Eckhardt who helped me edit my essay, my supportive family and my mther, who pushed me until she knew I was ready to push myself

Joshua Watkins

Hometown: Whitefish, Montana

Major: I’m currently leaning toward History or Political Science.

What led you to choose UM? The college made it onto my radar when I was recruited by Jason Brown to play tennis at the University. After I visited the campus, met with the coach and my future teammates, and got a feel for the atmosphere on campus, I realized it was the perfect fit and decided to sign a NLI in November. 

What led you to choose that major? I know I want to pursue medicine as a career, but I have not yet decided on what I want my major to be. I want to try to experience as much academic diversity as possible, and see other options, before making a final decision. 

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? I see myself attending medical school, at a prestigious university like Stanford or USC. I want to have played four years of college tennis, traveled and made the most out of my undergraduate college experience before I attend medical school.

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? I would love for all kids to have education opportunities. Not just learning how to read, write and do math, but how to think. The ability to think deeply, analyze yourself as well as the world around you and grow intellectually. I think that this would eliminate ignorance, and, in my opinion, ignorance is the leading cause of conflict in the world. 

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? I would really like to thank my parents. They have always pushed me to be the best I could possibly be; not just settling for good but striving for great. They have helped with school, tennis, and my personal development and I would not be the person I am today without them. I would also like to thank Coach Brown for the amazing tennis opportunity. Division 1 college athletics has been a goal of mine since I was a little kid, and I am so excited and fortunate to have the opportunity to accomplish that goal. 

Katherine Wendeln

Katherine WendelnHometown: Mason, Ohio

Major: Organism Biology, Ecology and Evolution with a minor in Wildlife Biology

What led you to choose UM? The entire campus is known for its fantastic biology programs and sustainable practices. UM’s location will allow me to study wildlife, conservation and ecology in numerous national, state and local parks and, coupled with my zoo background will give me well-rounded experiences and education. The town is even nicknamed Zootown (a perfect fit for “zoo girl”), and the student center, filled with tropical plants and trees, reminds me of the greenhouse outside the zoo academy classrooms. UM is the best place for me to continue to pursue my interests.

What led you to choose that major? Studying biology is appealing to me because I have always been fascinated by science. I graduated from the Cincinnati Zoo Academy, part of Hughes High School. I have watched bonobos undergo medical checkups, hand-fed an Indian rhino, analyzed leopard cell samples at the zoo’s research facility and bathed Asian elephants. I have worked with multiple people in biology and conservation fields, and my experience has solidified my decision to pursue a biology degree. My favorite classes were Animal Anatomy and Physiology, Plant and Horticulture, and Environmental Science.

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? I plan to be the next Jane Goodall, Jack Hanna or Thane Maynard. UM will put me in the best position to pursue my future conservation and animal-related career goals. I love science and want to spend my life researching, discovering new things and sharing my passion with others. 

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? I frequently tell people that transferring to Hughes High School, the Cincinnati Zoo Academy, is the best decision I have ever made.  The Cincinnati Zoo Academy is a high school that combines typical courses with a “lab” where students get to work in various zoo departments. Ever since I was little, I have had a passion for wildlife and the outdoors, and this program was a perfect match for my interests.  Thanks Hughes High School/Cincinnati Zoo Academy and the Cincinnati Zoo for the best education and hands-on-experience possible. It is a unique and wonderful program and I am extremely grateful for all the opportunities provided.

Dylan Yonce

Dylan YounceHometown: Missoula, Montana

Major: History, hoping to double major in political science

What led you to choose UM? The Honors College at the University of Montana offers a lot of excellent programs.  The Presidential Scholarship made my undergrad so affordable that I simply could not justify going anywhere else. I really love the campus and the outdoors, having grown up in Montana, and am very excited to continue to backpack, float, hike and hangout in and around campus.

What led you to choose that major? I have done a lot of political work, both in the state and Washington D.C., through the United States Senate Page Program and through Senator Jon Tester's campaign in 2018.  I love history and I think that the relationship between the politics of the world and history is vital in making today's world a better and more functional place.

What do you imagine yourself doing at age 25? At 25, I will probably be wrapping up my master's and either heading to work on legislative agendas in Washington, D.C., or heading into a Ph.D. program for history.

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why? At this point, if I could change anything in the world, it would be to eliminate the partisan fighting that has been occurring and escalating within both the U.S. government, and other governing bodies around the world.

Is there anyone who played a special role in your journey so far who’d you like to thank? Patricia Hixson, History teacher at Hellgate High School, and my parents.