Haylie Shipp came to MSU Billings after graduating from Glasgow High School in 2003. At the top of her class with magna cum laude honors, she earned a mass communication degree at MSUB five years later. Sitting across from her as she interviewed me at KLTZ Radio in her hometown, I found myself thinking how connected MSU Billings is to eastern Montana, but also that we could do a better job at maintaining those connections. Even though it took more than a decade since her graduation, this time MSU Billings came to Haylie.
2019 Buzzin’ Beyond Billings tour
Last month, we set out on our second Buzzin’ Beyond Billings tour of eastern Montana. We brought a bus full of faculty, staff, students and administrators, like myself. The tour took us through rural communities, like Lame Deer, Colstrip, Miles City, Glendive, Sidney, Poplar, Glasgow, Fort Peck and Roundup. Our goal was to raise awareness, entice prospective students, and, of course, strengthen relationships with the people who matter to our university.
Throughout high school science presentations, discussions with local educational leaders, socials with alumni, and meetings at local business and attractions, I noted a common thread: these towns welcomed us with open arms. But even though excited people met us at stops along the way, they also weren’t shy about telling us we need to improve to enhance their communities. Fortunately, they told us how.
Educating eastern Montana
We are partnering with Stockman Bank to provide educational opportunities for students in eastern Montana. Hopefully, students will receive their education and then return to rural Montana to make a difference in their hometowns. The new Stockman Bank NextStep Endowed Scholarship is a step toward that goal. The scholarship awards two Miles Community College graduates $500 toward continuing their education at MSU Billings. We look forward to working with others to help provide additional scholarships for our students.
Oneok, Inc. is a major regional employer seeking to hire City College graduates for high-paying jobs. We will partner with Okeok and other employers to ensure students take the right courses for their future, and modern workforce needs.
Our team also sat down with educational leaders in these parts of eastern Montana. We learned there is a need for seamless pathways to enhance educational opportunities in the area. We plan to leverage our resources to support residents who want to increase their skills and knowledge. This includes expanding educational opportunities for special populations, like veterans and Native students, and improving their retention rates. We had an excellent meeting with Fort Peck tribal leaders about their commitment toward partnerships with MSU Billings to better educate these students.
Haylie is just one great example of our graduates live in this part of eastern Montana. I am excited to see MSU Billings represented in this area. I am more excited to hear that alumni want to mentor current students and help with internship opportunities. There was no shortage of ‘Jacket pride in the communities we visited. I am proud of the difference they’re making in this important region of our state.
To all the sponsors, businesses, media outlets, educational partners and community members who helped make our second Buzzin’ Beyond Billings trip a success – thank you. Thank you for your support of this great program, our wonderful university, and, most importantly, the students we serve. I will continue to strive at bettering our relationship with eastern Montana, and the rest of our state and nation. We will continue together toward my goal of 6,000 students in five years. Thank you for your warm support!