Hometown: Hattiesburg, MS
"I found that opportunities here at State are as wide-open as the campus."
Christina has always had many aspirations. While she considers various professions, her involvement with Freshman Forum is developing leadership skills she can apply in any career.
"I helped plan our annual conference, where high school juniors and seniors experience campus life with current students."
When Christina attended the conference herself as a high school senior, she saw how State “opened up a whole world of opportunities” and knew it was the school for her. In just six months, she has forged close bonds and learned how people can combine different talents to build a strong community. That’s the kind of leadership everyone learns at MSU.
Hometown: Wasserburg am Bodensee, Germany
Major: Graphic Design
"Adapting to a new culture is a challenge, but I got involved here and really love it."
Joining activities at MSU cured Katja’s homesickness—and earned her numerous awards. Her first step, reactivating the German Club on campus, was so rewarding she joined two honor societies that take on community service projects and the Starlight Dancers, a hip-hop group. Fascinated with creative communication through photography, video and design, she is one of several Department of Art students who have won awards and received invitations to exhibit their work.
“Next I want to become a Roadrunner, so I can motivate people to get involved. You can do so much here.”
Katja is one of only two international students accepted to the Montgomery Leadership Program, which “is opening new doors as I get to know leaders in the community. I am growing with the experience, as I have with all the opportunities MSU offers.”
Hometown: Lithonia, GA
"At State, I’m learning to change other people’s lives as much as my own."
When Lance came to MSU from metro Atlanta, he saw a way to make a big difference on a busy campus and in a smaller town. He coordinates fraternity programs on topics like financial literacy, and as an orientation leader, he hopes “to help more sheltered students make a good transition.”
"A friend and I wanted to help local kids educationally, so we’ve created a new student organization called CHANGE to promote reading."
CHANGE (Communities Helping a New Generation Excel) has collected books for an elementary-school reading competition, and he’s created a Twitter page to recruit more students. He explains, “We’re partnering with other campus groups to get the word out, and our team is growing.”
Hometown: Starkville, MS
Major: Aerospace Engineering
Scores of aerospace engineers want to someday work for NASA. Laurel already has.
"MSU is really good at helping students find and compete for opportunities like these," she says.
An accomplished student, Laurel applied to Ivy League schools, but when it came to hands-on experience in her chosen field, Mississippi State had the most to offer. Through Space Cowboys, MSU's award-winning rocketry design team, Laurel has helped build rockets for NASA's annual launch competition.
"Mississippi State has definitely given me an advantage when I go to find a job," she says. "The atmosphere here is very pro-student. They go beyond just making sure you understand the coursework. They put a really big focus on what you want to do career-wise."
Hometown: Clear Spring, MD
Major: Civil and Environmental Engineering
"Mississippi State won't hold you back. They will push you forward."
How so? In Matthew's sophomore year, he got the chance to do his own research project. Not only that, but his work got published while he was still an undergrad. "That's almost unheard of," he says.
"If you are looking to change the world, Mississippi State will gladly show you the way."
Beyond the lab, Mississippi State has helped Matthew take his studies far and wide, from a prestigious fellowship at UC Berkeley to an eye-opening summer in Zambia with Engineers Without Borders, helping tribal communities get clean water. "Civil engineering may not be glamorous, but it offers me the ability to make people's lives better on a macro scale," he says.
Hometown: New Albany, MS
Major: Business Information Systems & Information Technology Services
"I always tell my high school friends, when you come to college, don't be afraid to get involved."
In high school, Roderick was always looking for ways to get involved and make a difference. He wanted a college that emphasized learning and offered lots of ways to get connected. "Mississippi State had everything I needed," he says. For one thing, MSU has more than 300 student organizations.
"Everybody has a place."
Roderick earned the Day One Outstanding Leadership Award in his freshman year. He enthusiastically recruits new students as a Roadrunner, and he's even planning his own volunteer project - a career preparation seminar for his fellow students - as part of the rigorous Montgomery Leadership Program. In the friendly and diverse community he found here, Roderick found his place quickly.
Hometown: Vero Beach, FL
Major: International Business & Marketing with Chinese & Spanish
"You have to deal with things more independently. I'm learning to be a quick problem solver."
While studying abroad in Granada, Spain, Vanessa stays active. When she's not in class, she might be learning salsa, hiking snowy mountains, touring Paris, or making new friends - with new perspectives.
"At home, when we study economics, we tend to focus on U.S. issues. Now, I have a better understanding of international economies."
Though she's been abroad two months, she's still adjusting to a long-term stay in a new place. But culture shock has been a good teacher. "It's really broadened my mind."
Hometown: Brandon, MS
Major: Biological Engineering/Pre-Med
"I kept an open mind – and realized that MSU broadened my options."
On his way out of state, he discovered a home at MSU. Like many students at his private prep school, Zack was determined to go out of state for college. Once he visited MSU, though, the quality of the biological engineering program and “a campus large and diverse enough that I can make my own path” persuaded him to enroll.
“I’ve loved it ever since,” he says. As a Shackouls Honors College student, Zack receives considerable personal attention, and he hopes to study at Oxford University in England through the Honors Study Abroad Program. In general, he says, MSU provides “more opportunities than smaller institutions can offer. My experience has been far above my expectations.”