RSO Takes Fill-in-the-Blank Approach When Recruiting Student Members

EWB Officers, from left, Jordan ZumBerge, Michael Seffren, Sam Stoffels and Yoseph Ukbazghi.

EWB Officers, from left, Jordan ZumBerge, Michael Seffren, Sam Stoffels and Yoseph Ukbazghi. See more photos at end of story.

Leaders with the Engineers Without Borders chapter at Minnesota State University, Mankato seek to expand their membership to all students on campus. Trouble is, the group’s name tends to scare away students.

Named the March 2015 Recognized Student Organization of the Month at Minnesota State Mankato, the club is finding that lifting typecasts is the first phase of recruitment and growth.

“We talked with the marketing club and they specifically said ‘the Engineers Without Borders name scares me off’ because it’s engineers,” said Michael Seffren, vice president of programs for the Minnesota State Mankato chapter of EWB.

The group now takes a fill-in-the-blank approach to recruitment that offers students opportunities to contribute and benefit from the group’s community focus.

“What we came up with was Underscore Without Borders,” Seffren said. “So if you’re a nursing major – if you’re a business major, marketing, finance, anthropology, history – whatever, put you’re major right in front of Without Borders. That’s the type of club we want to have.

“This club is open to every single student,” he added. “We will find a spot for you that you will enjoy doing.”
Seffren, along with EWB Chapter President Sam Stoffels and Jordan Zumberge, chapter secretary, shared the past and future of their student organization that traditionally focuses on international projects while transitioning toward more local community involvement.

Granted a campus chapter in 2009, EWB is part of an international Engineers Without Borders organization offering 140 professional and student chapters. EWB chapters partner with communities throughout the world to develop sustainable, reliable infrastructure that improves quality of life.

Since its inception, EWB at Minnesota State Mankato has been working with the community of Santa Rosa Senca, El Salvador, to improve the community’s water distribution system. The group is currently preparing for a week-long visit to Santa Rosa Senca in May.

“It is a student-led, student motivated, student-driven organization,” Stoffels said. “All aspects of the trip have to be student organized.”

To assist all areas of project development and delivery, Stoffels said the organization is working to expand its membership by recruiting students from across the curriculum who want to make a difference.

“Not only do our projects benefit the communities we work with,” Stoffels said, “they also benefit students by giving valuable skills that aren’t picked up in the curriculum. Especially the soft skills – planning, teamwork, leadership, presentation, fundraising and networking.”

Zumberge added that engineering students are needed for the technical work, but the group primarily seeks students ready to help others.

“Any student that really wants to do humanitarian work, make a difference and do more than just go get free pizza, those are the students we want – who are motivated to help people,” he said. “When I see the perfect vision for EWB, it’s walking through the CSU (Centennial Student Union) and saying ‘Hi’ to five or six non-engineering students that I know because they are in EWB with me.”

For the three club leaders, this spring’s trip to El Salvador will be their first international assistance venture. No members who made the trip two years ago will be joining them.

“We know the effects of having an upperclassmen-heavy organization,” Stoffels added.
As a result, the chapter concentrates on attracting younger students.

“A lot of our recruits are sophomores” Zumberge said. “At that age they know what they want to do with their life. They’re not new to campus anymore. That’s what we find is the ‘sweet spot’ in our recruiting.”

Along with student members, the EWB chapter also partners with a professional engineering mentor from SEH Engineering in Mankato. Dr. Stephen Druschel, P.E., from the university’s engineering department serves as the group’s advisor.

The three also gave “assistant advisor” honors to Ashley Strom, assistant director of RSOs at Minnesota State Mankato, for her help in networking with different RSOs and community groups.

“Ashley is a great connector,” Seffren said. “She’s linked me up with at least five different student leaders that all want to do things with us.”

While the international project is EWB’s primary focus, the group slates guest speakers and presentation to introduce students to useful information for sculpting their lives and futures. Another recent focus seeks opportunities for local volunteer work.

“We are looking at short-term, local volunteering events because the international travel only occurs at most twice a year for our student chapter,” Stoffels said.

Seffrens added some students have simpler goals for involvement.

“We want to do local stuff so that people who don’t want to travel can still participate,” he said. “Or they just want to put in an hour a week doing local volunteering with us.”

While proud to advance their international Engineers Without Borders affiliation, the three chapter officers remain committed to crafting – and exemplifying — a club that grows by helping others.

“It’s really what you want out of it. If you want something that will occupy a lot your time, it can occupy a lot of your time. If you don’t you don’t have to,” Stoffels said. “A lot of use are putting a lot of time and effort into this club because we truly believe in helping people. I can’t stop, basically.”

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Pay It Forward Is the Lasting Legacy Envisioned for Students Today, Leaders Forever

Students Today, Leaders Tomorrow YouTube

Members of Students Today, Leaders Forever believe their Pay It Forward tour during spring break is best summed up as: “Nine days, six cities, one life-changing experience.”

Since officially becoming a Registered Student Organization at Minnesota State University, Mankato this past year, STLF joins a national association of nearly 23,000 students committed to leadership growth through community involvement.

At Minnesota State Mankato, STLF has rapidly established its organization as it reaches out to potential new members. Thus far, 31 students have registered to join this year’s tour that runs during Spring Break March 7-15.

Stops for their first tour from Minnesota State Mankato include Rapid City, S.D.; Casper, Wyo.; Rock Springs, Wyo.; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Grand Junction, Colo., before meeting with other STLF tours in Denver for a leadership gathering.

Among STLF’s founders at Minnesota State Mankato, Bradley Rod and Jessica Farah said the group’s mainstay PIF tour provides real-world experiences through community service seeking to make a difference.

A transfer from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, Bradley participated in his first PIF tour after he was “sucked into it by my roommate.”

Last year, Bradley and fellow Minnesota State University student Abdollah Shaferi joined the tour from the College of St. Scholastica. The experience from a distant campus was bittersweet.

“You make all these friends and then you don’t see them for a year,” Bradley said.

Afterwards, he petitioned the national STLF organization to start a chapter here.

Jessica, who participated in her first of six tours while a student at the U of M, is now a MBA graduate student at Minnesota State Mankato and serves as STLF’s graduate advisor. Like the other five founding members, Jessica remains constantly energized by STLF and the PIF experience.

“I talk about it 24-7,” she said.

Her motivation grew from her first experience with PIF when she participated in her first tour eight weeks after arriving from Lebanon.

“I was the last one on the bus so I sat alone at the very front of the bus,” Jessica recalled.

Just as she was thinking she made an awful mistake that would last for the next several days, another student on the bus sat down next to her.

“She said you want to watch a movie with me?” The two became “buds” by sharing Jessica’s ear buds. More friendships grew during the tour. “I came back and I had 40 new friends.”

During the nine-day tour, students spend a portion of their time assisting community projects in five different cities. Time is also set aside for sightseeing. At night, the group participates in various leadership building activities.

In each of their visits, actions by PIF participants are demonstrating that “these young people are making a difference.”

Jessica remembers a stop during her first tour where their work in a small community involved painting fire hydrants from yellow to red. The local school dismissed classes so students could assist PIF members in the community project. At day’s end, the appreciative community hosted a huge barbecue for the touring group.

Bradley recalls a darker memory from Indianapolis, Ind., where the group was helping a not-for-profit group reclaim what had become a neighborhood flop house. Among the needles and a bed frozen to the flooded basement floor was a collection of children’s toys. The scene imprinted the reality of life and how simple acts can make a difference.

Jessica and Bradley agree that leaving a lasting legacy on campus and across the nation is an important part of starting their STLF chapter at Minnesota State Mankato.

“I definitely have a lot of pride,” said Jessica about her STLF involvement. “To have a lasting impact on campus is huge for me.”

Bradley added he hopes what he helped create will remain part of the campus culture for years to come.
“Maybe my kids will come here,” Bradley added. “It would be great to say, ‘Oh, there’s still an STLF chapter here.”

If the growing number of students committed to Paying It Forward is any indication, the STLF should enjoy a long run at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

The national Students Today, Leaders Forever started in 2003 after four University of Minnesota freshmen sat in their dorm room brainstorming ways they could make a difference in the world. Their grass-roots dreaming has evolved into 582 PIF tours-to-date from campus chapters across the country. Participating students join alternative spring break adventures to various communities to assist with philanthropy events and community projects.

Students Today, Leaders Forever MavSync
Students Today, Leaders Forever Facebook
Students Today, Leaders Forever Website

Hack College Tip: Five Best Apps for Freshman

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Originally Posted by Hack College 24 Aug 2014 08:00 AM PDT
While a large part of the college experience is about becoming independent, responsibility is the biggest byproduct of independence. For many, dealing with the transition to college life is natural; others may struggle to lead a balanced, organized life.

In the past, we’ve often talked about ways students can organize their lives, as well as apps that can make it simple. But if you’re new to HackCollege, or the thought of even attempting to organize your life is scary, here are a few apps that you’ll want to get familiar with as the school year gets started.

Apps for Freshmen

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OneNote is one of our most recommended apps, and for good reason. Microsoft’s free note-taking app is perfect for organizing all of your notes in one place. It syncs offline and across devices for easy access, and allows users the freedom to develop their own style of note-taking thanks to great formatting features.

With a recent release on Mac, it’s now available on every major platform, including iPhone/iPad and Android. Windows, and now Android tablet users, can take advantage of handwriting support, allowing for more natural note-taking.

Whether you’re looking to get a degree in advertising or want to become a web designer, OneNote offers something for every type of college student.

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A planner is one of the most essential things for college life. But in the age of smartphones, apps, and syncing, a traditional planner seems almost primitive.

That’s because apps like iStudiez Pro (Mac/iOS) and MyStudyLife (Windows/Windows Phone) give students a complete solution for keeping track of classes and assignments. Both offer a built-in planner that can be customized for different types of class schedules.

If you want to start your freshman year off right or simply want to be a more organized student, get in the habit of using iStudiez Pro or MyStudyLife.

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One of the most important things college students don’t learn until it’s too late is how to manage money. Rarely is there a middle-ground–you’re either really good and responsible or you’re down to your last $5 before each and every payday.

Using Mint helped me dig deeper into my spending habits, allowing me to discover what I could cut out. It also gave me the tools needed to set proper budgets and goals. And that’s what makes it one of the most important apps for freshmen who want to get serious about money.

Mint connects with your bank accounts, credit cards, and even things like loans and investments to give you a complete overview of how much money you have and where it’s been going.

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Being a chronic procrastinator isn’t fun, but not knowing how to solve your procrastination problem is even worse.

, however, was created with the purpose of helping procrastinators learn more about their computer and web habits. For instance, if you tend to get distracted easily you can find out exactly how much time you spent on a specific website or in an app.

A premium service is available for $9 a month or $72 a year, which gives more detailed reporting, allows you to block websites for certain hours, and can also help you track time away from your computer.

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A planner like iStudiez Pro or MyStudyLife can help you track your class-related to-do lists, but you’re going to need something to manage your personal tasks.

If you’re looking for something that can be used on every single device you own, allowing for reminders and recurring tasks, Wunderlistis perfect. This free app has simple functionality and is a favorite app among HackCollege writers.

What apps have you discovered work best for organizing your school and personal life? Let us know your favorite apps for freshmen in the comments below!

Personal Reflections of a Student Athlete

by Sam Thompson

Recently, I was selected as the College of Arts and Humanities commencement speaker. I felt a wave of emotion after learning I won the audition. Since then, I’ve taken time to personally reflect on my journey here at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Starting on my speech the very next day, I was greeted by a severe case of writer’s block. I wanted a speech full of wit and wisdom, but nothing surfaced. How do I condense four years of life into a message that connects with a half-awake crowd of peers? I began to jot ideas down. I started to make changes…after changes…after changes. I rehearsed it, but something wasn’t working. I read the words, but they weren’t coming from the heart.

Shortly after feeling hopeless I received an email from my grandfather. He told me, “Keep it brief. If the speech achieves anything at all, tell the folks and the students what you would like to hear if you were seated in the audience.” Wisdom always comes in short form. Taking his advice, I listened for the voice behind my college journey. Here is my reflection:

Never forget my past as I work to improve my present so I can mold my future.


Nothing prepares you for your college journey. If you hear otherwise, it is a flat-out lie. Looking back, I am glad that I was not prepared. That lack of preparation has taught me how to fail, how to learn and how to become me.

I also found how to order Topperstix at 2 a.m. in Gage and how to navigate the blustery Minnesota winters.

As a student athlete, I have learned so many things over the past four years. I’m not trying to gain pity points from you, but college life is a little different – perhaps more difficult — for athletes. Unlike most students, I had to represent the name on the front of my jersey during all hours of the day. I not only represented my family and my hometown but I represented you, the students. .

In the process, I’ve learned how to respect authority, how to be on time for a class or meeting, how to get my school work done on time, how to say I’m wrong, how to say I’m sorry and how to be me.

And I was damn proud to claim my role as student athlete. Having that experience expanded my life lesson, That knowledge will stay with me until the day I die.

You know, a couple years back, my teammates were put in a difficult situation when our head coach was thrust into national news. As you may have heard recently, he has decided to regain the helm of the football program.

As an athlete, I wouldn’t wish this situation on anyone. But I don’t regret being put in the situation with the men I called teammates and coaches. It taught me the importance of loyalty and of being focused on a dream. Most teams put in the situation would have crumbled. My teammates rose to the occasion. We won two conference championships, a regional championship, and were one game away from the national championship. We will continue to succeed.

While many may see me as a football player, in my mind I am still a pimply-faced teenager trying to navigate this unfamiliar terrain called life. I was a normal person facing real-life struggles.

College was hard.

I had plenty of long nights studying for tests or writing papers for classes. I had a serious relationship wilt. I missed my family. I missed my hometown. The struggle was there and it was real.

But college shaped me.

From it, I learned how to live by myself. I gained real-world knowledge. I found people who I wanted in my circle and in my corner. I was a part of many religious and academic groups on campus. I explored the city and the state. I became friends with my professors. I became friends with some awesome dudes and gals. I found me.


Are you who you want to be? That is the question I ask myself every morning. Is the present me who I want the future me to be. If not, then I need to change. This is something that has taken me three years to understand since my journey started in Mankato.

One of the lessons that has stuck with me in my time at MSU is that of failure. I have learned to fall in love with the process of failing, because I get to wake up each morning knowing that I am human, that I am not perfect and that I need to evolve with the world around me. If I decided to fall in love with the process of succeeding, then I would become complacent in my relationships with others, how I work and how I treat those around me.

Every once in a while we need to be critical of ourselves. If not, then we will never become better. We will never become who we dream of becoming. Everyone messes up. It’s called being human. Be willing to adapt to the world while maintaining your values. Personal evolution is good.

Most importantly, embrace the moment you are in. Whether that be positive or negative, it will shape you,. Learn from your mistakes and relish in your successes. One thing that we all continually need to do is appreciate those who touch our lives. Tell those around you, “I’m really glad your here.” I dare you! See what happens. For life is too short to be hung up on being hateful and upset…quoting Elsa in FROZEN…”let it go.”


If I could make you understand one thing about your future it would be this: you decided what it will be yesterday.

This might be a little philosophical, but hear me out. The past helps to shape our future. If you decided in your past to be involved with a lot of groups on campus, be social on the weekends and have a diverse group of friends, you are creating connections with a multitude of people that can help support and shape your future. If you decide to be caught up in drama, drugs and dumb stuff, your future will be filled with failure and what you have consumed in your past. You will surely “regurgitate” what your body, mind and soul consume.

So where’s the hope in this? The hope is in today. Today will be tomorrow’s yesterday. Each day when we wake up we have a chance to change our future. If our yesterdays have been filled with unhealthy decisions, you can fix that. And it starts with today. We can always change the outcome of our future, but only if we allow ourselves to take that step.

If you take one thing away from this, here it is: Live life like a kid. Laugh when you get the chance to laugh. Dance when you get the chance to dance (but no twerking after you are 26, that’s pushing it). Give someone a high-five when they do something awesome. Be vulnerable to cry when your heart hurts. Forgive one another of their mess-ups. And love all, because love is always louder, no matter what, even if hate has a blow horn. LOVE WILL ALWAYS BE LOUDER.

How To Finish The Semester Strong

Perspective from a Seasoned Veteran


I’ve been there and done it all. In a couple of weeks I will be completing my undergraduate studies at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Though the senior slump has set in for me and my senior counterparts, there is still work to be done before the conclusion of the semester. I wanted to hand down my experiences to you on how to finish the semester strong like a torn hand-me-down shirt from your older sibling…


Don’t wait until the week before finals to begin that 20-page research paper or start studying for that test worth 33 percent of your grade. It’s just not worth it, and quite frankly, it AIN’T cool. Start the process of studying and researching now. This doesn’t mean you have to do it all at once, but make a dent now compared to later.

I have found that if I work incrementally on my large assignments, I become more productive, have a higher quality of work and have less stress in my life once I am done. Give it a try. Start the process now and continue to work on it day-by-day instead of the night before. You will have more free time to enjoy you favorite activities and will have less stress coming up to finals week.


If you haven’t introduced yourself to your teacher yet this far into the semester or haven’t gone into his or her office to ask a question, go now. It doesn’t matter if it’s an obvious (stupid) question, the fact that you are going to an instructor’s office to advance your understanding of the course is huge.

Teachers greatly appreciate a student who makes the effort to come in to ask questions or seek help on an assignment. It shows your commitment to absorbing and understanding the knowledge they offered

Another reason it is beneficial to stop by and say hi is that it gives them a face and a name to remember. You aren’t the most important person in their world (sorry to break the news to you). By making a concerted effort to go in multiple times to just say hi or to ask for help, you form a relationship. I have done this with every instructor I have had since I was freshman.

As my senior year is coming to an end, I am seeing the rewards. By working to be more than just a face in the crowd , I have received great letters of recommendations from teachers, a grade boost if I’m on the edge and a lifelong relationship with some brilliant individuals.


Frequently it feels as if all your teachers have collaborated to stockpile big projects and tests towards the end of the semester. OK, so life’s not always fair. This is where organization becomes key in successfully dominating the end of the semester.

With all of these assignments being due around the same time, you need to organize your notes, work and time accordingly.

Most important of these three is time. We all have a calendar on our phone or computer, so use it. Set aside time each night of the week, time permitting, to tackle assignments.

This not only helps you visually realize the time restraints you have in completing your assignment, but it is also a vehicle to keep you accountable in doing your school work.

Next, organizing your work is important. Create note cards, retype your notes in a word document, get colorful pens or whatever makes your organizational heart flutter.

Using these type of organization tools will take some time, but will be beneficial in the heat of studying. It will allow you to quickly find what you are looking for.

No one likes to have jumbled heap of papers on a table at the library. Instead, be that cool, calm and organized person when studying. I think the saying goes, “If you organize your study material good, you feel good.”


The last couple of weeks in the semester can be daunting. I can attest to this. The library and studying constantly can soon consume life like Joey Chestnut throwing down hot dogs at Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.

It happens really fast and it seems impossible to escape the confines of the depressing library. And this is why this next step is the most important to do….

We all need to get out.

College students all over the Midwest – and especially in Minnesota – have subtle signs of seasonal-depression. This winter has been horrifying.

When you have a chance to get out go to the volleyball courts by Carkoski Commons, play frisbee on the football practice fields, go run around the trails or head down Stadium hill to Rasmussen Park. We have amazing outdoor complexes at this university. Taking advantage of them is essential to having a successful semester.

Go out and do what makes you happy and then get your butt back to studying.


I’ve been through a lot during my four years here and have met a lot of amazing people. I have also learned a couple of life lessons that I would like to end with.

The greatest lessons I have learned here involve failure and love.

I started college at a sports management major intent on becoming an athletic director. That dream failed when the field of public relations grabbed my interest and I became a mass media major. Again, the dream failed when I realized being a lawyer was my path in life. I applied, was accepted and am attending law school in the fall (let’s hope this dream doesn’t fail because it will be a very expensive failure).

You see, we all fail. Whether that be in our dreams, our relationships with loved ones, in a paper or in an entire course. We have all had minor and major failures in our life. How we face failure helps shape our character.

Here’s how I see failure. I have learned to fall in love with the process of failing, because I get to wake up each morning knowing that I am human, that I am not perfect and that I need to evolve with the world.

I chose this way of thinking because if I learned to fall in love with the process of succeeding I would become complacent in my relationships with others, my work and how I treat those around me.

I hope you all finish the semester strong. Start the process now, stick your head in your professor’s office, organize your material and get out. Finally, know that the course in each of our lives rests in our reaction — and our resolve — in the face of failure.

Serendipitous Moments Video: Reclaiming A Place Of Peace

On Friday, the Minnesota State University campus and the Mankato community are invited to participate in the Fourth Annual Candelight Vigil, a 12-hour vigil at Rasmussen Woods that honors the victims of domestic violence. The March 28 event falls on the anniversary of the 2010 death of Svetlana Munt who was murdered by her husband near the entrance to the park. This week, Kassie & Sam produced a Serendipitous Moments video the focuses on the event seeking to reclaim Rasmussen Woods as a place of peace and tranquility.

New Campus Cupboard Offers Shelves of Food for Students in Need

This week, Kassie & Sam introduce students to the new Campus Cupboard located in Crossroads Ministry along the Minnesota State University, Mankato campus. This by-students-for-students program facilitated by Crossroads serves as a food pantry for students in need.

Campus Hub Offers Convenient Help With College Finances

Campus Hub 3by Kassie Hanson
CSU Public Relations Intern

Outside the classroom, perhaps the toughest quizzes students face are questions surrounding college finances. That is where that long, newly-remodeled counter on the main level of the Centennial Student Union – home of the Campus Hub – plays a vital role in a student’s successful college experience.

Short lines, prompt phone calls and good customer service are some of the things students hope for on their side of the counter. But what is it like for the seven financial aid specialists when the tables are turned?

“We are here to help,” said Karen Bunde, Campus Hub and MavCARD operations director. “No question is a dumb question. Keep in mind the more you know, the better questions you’ll ask, resulting in more helpful answers. It is refreshing for everyone working in the Hub to be able to help guide students through their questions.”

Bunde said her staff seeks to provide day-to-day professional assistance to make student lives a little bit easier. She also touched on things that students can do, prior to asking questions, to get the most out of their visit.

“One of the most important things students should be aware of is timelines and deadlines. If deadlines are missed, we can’t do anything to help the situation.” Bunde said.

Bunde stressed the importance of thoroughly reading emails and letters sent to students about their financial aid. Answers to questions students often have can be found by reading all of the information in front of them.

“Students can help themselves a lot if they read and do their research,” she said. “It’s like taking out a mortgage and not knowing what you’ve signed up for.”

Bunde noted that the financial aid process has come a long way in last ten years. The Hub constantly analyzes problems that students face to provide quick and thorough responses.

“It is a cleaner, easier-to-follow process today,” she said.

Much of that involves intense training to prepare Hub specialists to give students the best help possible. Staff complete weeks of preparation and real-life scenarios before working with students. Bunde said that training includes working with Dr. Kari Much, staff psychologist at the Counseling Center, to understand student behavior when tackling their financial uncertainties.

“It is important for us to know the difference between a frustrated student and an angry student so we can better understand where they are coming from when asking their questions.” Bunde said.

Bunde suggested that students visit the Campus Hub Website. From Hub TV to the “Did you know box” – where students and families can apply for loans and grants, there is a lot of information provided to keep students up-to-date on announcements, financial information and deadlines.

Maverick One Stop, the university’s online help site, is another help site when questions are not urgent. Requests for information are redirected to the Hub where a specialist who provide quick replies via email.

Embracing A Lifestyle Of ‘WE’ Over ‘ME’

Steven Colbert Commencement Speaker

Recently I had the opportunity to watch Stephen Colbert’s commencement speech to the graduating class of 2011 at Northwestern University. Though his speech was riddled with endless jokes about brothels, skipping class and our generation being inferior, the end of his speech moved me.

There were a couple of thought-provoking takeaways that I would share with you.

1. You Are Not The Most Important Person

Colbert moved down to Chicago after college to take a stab at improv. He quickly found out some key fundamentals to improvisational comedy. “One of the things I was taught early on is that you are not the most important person in the scene. Everybody else is. And if everybody else is more important than you are, you will naturally pay attention to them and serve them.”

In improv, and in life, it should be about them, not us. But many of us have the perception that it should be about ME ME ME. We ask, “what can I get out of a particular situation?” We have become consumed in a culture of ME.

Colbert brings a simple solution to perception of, “what can I gain from this?” He goes on to say, “but the good news is you’re in the scene, too. So, hopefully, to them you’re the most important person, and they will serve you. No one is leading. You’re all following the follower; serving the servant.”

If we surround ourselves with people who aren’t about ME, but WE, each of us gains an infinite amount of love, life and happiness. It all starts with realizing a WE over ME approach.

2. You Cannot Win Your Life

You cannot win improv,” Colbert explained.”And life is like an improvisation. You never know what’s going to happen next.”

We don’t know when a job offer is going to come our way, we don’t know the exact date the love of our life is going come in our life, we don’t know when a loved one will get cancer and we don’t where we will be living 20 years from now. As with improv, we often just make things up as we go along.

In my experience, you will truly serve only what you love,” he added, “because as the prophet said, service is love made visible:
If you love friends, you will serve your friends.
If you love community, you will serve your community.
If you love money, you will serve your money.
If you love only yourself, you will serve only yourself. And you will have only yourself.”

So no more winning. No more one-upping one another. Reverse the focus of “ME ME ME” to “WE WE WE”. Serve others and love others, because hopefully you will find those who love and serve you in return.

– Sam Thompson



Among the various definitions listed in the online Urban Dictionary for the Greek exclamation, “OPA!” , the one I like the best is “a word or pronouncement of celebration; the celebration of life itself.”

I find that especially fitting and true for the group of students that claim OPA as their acronym.

Each summer, these students comprise the cluster of shining stars that brighten campus and the futures of new students arriving for summer orientation sessions running June 5 through July 21.

Orientation Peer Assistants – OPAs – represent the team of outgoing, charismatic and energetic Minnesota State Mankato students assembled by Mel Iverson, assistant director of orientation, and the professional staff in the New Student and Family Programs office. These students serve as peer guides, mentors, and motivators as new students get a sampling of the college experience.

Where this is all leading is that recruitment of the Summer 2014 OPA crew will be starting in January. On Thursday, Jan. 16, at 8:30 p.m. in Preska Room 126, New Student and Family Programs will host an OPA information session. Benefits for becoming an OPA include:
• Helping welcome new student to campus
• Earning up to $3,600
• Gaining transferable leadership skills
• Free housing and meals during orientation
• Making lifelong friendships
• Earning university credit.

Students interested in becoming OPAs may submit their applications until 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30.

So if you have that certain “joie de vivre,” a paid summer on campus spent sharing, helping and growing may be an application away. OPA!

– Lenny Koupal, CSU Communications Coordinator