Lincy Johnson: In her sister’s footsteps

MSU Billings alumna Talya Manuel grew up as part of the third generation to work her family’s alfalfa farm near Chinook, Montana. She graduated in the spring of 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in community health.


“MSUB has a wonderful community,” Talya said. “I really loved going to school there.”

Little did she know that just a year later, her enthusiasm for her alma mater would help pave the way for her younger sister, Lincy Johnson, to join the Yellowjacket family.

Making the choice

Preparing to leave high school, Lincy looked at attending MSU Bozeman, Utah State and MSU Billings. After visits to each campus and talking to her big sister about it, Lincy found a home away from home at MSUB.


“My sister Talya had a wonderful experience (at MSUB),” Lincy said. “Knowing that helped make my choice easier.”


Partly because of her sister’s alumna status, Lincy qualified for the alumni scholarship. Established by the MSU Billings Alumni Association in 1983, the legacy scholarship bestows upon its recipients a $1,000 annual award. The criteria for the scholarship are rigorous and align with the scholarship objective of the Alumni Association – help successful students who are related to alumni find financial freedom while attending college.


“I’m proud that I was able to play a small part in helping her pay for school,” Talya said. “I always told her to apply for every scholarship she could. There’s never a negative to that.”


Using that strategy, Lincy said she earned a generous financial aid package. Thanks to her sister’s advice, Lincy attended her first year of college debt-free.


“MSU Billings is so good at getting students whatever help they need to be successful and reach their goals,” Lincy said. “The scholarship package I was offered made it easy for me to focus on my grades and college experience without stressing about how I would pay for it.”


It seems Talya’s influence on her little sister didn’t stop with her choice of school.

Broad horizons

In February of 2017, while in pursuit of her community health degree, Talya embarked on an international adventure. A study abroad program took her to the University of Southern Queensland in Toowomba, Australia. She said the experience of being a foreigner and learning about a culture from another perspective was one of the greatest takeaways from her time Down Under.

“I was excited to go on the trip and just as excited about the experience when I returned,” Talya said. “It was incredible.”

Talya’s elation for her adventure might have unintentionally rubbed off on her younger sister. Studying abroad is something Lincy, a human services major, is eager to try for herself.

“I want to travel, broaden my horizons and learn about different cultures,” Lincy said.

New Zealand is Lincy’s desired study abroad destination.

“I feel an experience like that would help me further understand diversity and help me be more confident as a counselor.”

Full circle

For Talya, seeing the world brought her full circle and back home to Montana’s Hi-Line. She said she is enjoying life with her husband and eight-month-old son, Clark. However, she could never have known that by graduating from MSU Billings and traveling abroad, she might have inspired her little sister.


“I have had a pretty good first year (at MSUB),” Lincy said. “I feel fortunate and am happy to go to a college my sister went to and follow in her footsteps.”


The two sisters have much in common, aside from attending MSU Billings and studying abroad. The two also played intramural volleyball during college.  They also share 17 nieces and nephews, and seven siblings. Further, they both said they were eager to see the diversity in the world, beyond their family’s alfalfa farm.

This is one story in a three-part alumni scholarship series by Laie Black, public relations assistant for the MSU Billings Alumni Association.