Brooke

We asked Brooke about returningto school with the Return to Learn Program;She stated, “I see a direction now. I just wanted to do it for myself. . . [I] came back to finish what I had started– to finish my degree and to get a better perspective on what I wanted to do with it as well.” 

Brooke originally came to Bozeman with the intention of graduating from MSU’s film and photography program. She spent several years studying in the photography program until she was pulled away from school by financial and family trouble back in her hometown. Cast adrift by her trouble and devoid of the funding she needed to return to MSU, Brooke moved to Alaska where she became a bartender on a train tour during the more favorable months and a ski instructor during the harsher Alaskan winters. 

Brooke recently returned to MSU with the intention of finishing her BA in photography. “I wanted to be doing something where I felt like I was giving something to the world,” Brooke stated. “College in the real world makes a massive difference, and having that actual degree was really important to make my way into the workforce.” 

Brooke also expressed how returning to college inspired her own personal projects. 

Brooke never struggled in school, instead she lacked direction. She expressed that her years in Alaska helped her figure out who she wanted to be. “I see a direction now.” Brooke continued, “I just wanted to do it for myself. . . [I] came back to finish what I had started, to finish my degree and to get a better perspective on what I wanted to do with it as well.” 

Coming back to school, Brooke is now more conscious of what she will be able to do after she graduates. “[Because I'm] constantlygoing, always doings things, always being tired, if I take school out of the equation, that’s still time to work on personal things. In a weird way, it has allowed me to see what I’m capable of.” 

Brooke recently graduated with her bachelor’s degreein photography with the help of a Return to Learn Scholarship and plans to make the most of her own unique experiences.  

Curious about returning as well? Learn more about the benefits here

   

lilabullchief

When Lila talks about why she returned to school she states, “It’s always been there, it’s always something I knew I needed to get done.” Lila recently graduated with her degree in microbiology with the help of the Return to Learn program. 

Lila originally came to MSU to earn a degree in Microbiology. However, three years after beginning her degree, her father’s health began to decline. Recognizing that her family needed her, Lila returned home. A year after returning home, Lila's father passed away and she spent several years helping her family cope with the loss. 

When Lila recollectswhy she returned to MSU she states,“It’s always been there, it’s always something I knew I needed to get done.”Lila wants to use her education to research type 2 diabetes, which is a major killer on thereservation sheis from. Lilahopes to use her education to improve her home because,as sheremarks, “IHS (Indian Health Service)isdying out;their budget keeps getting smaller and smaller.” 

The hardest part of returning to school for Lila was readjusting to student life. She sates,“I lived in the dorms which was a sacrifice I had tomake. Itjust made more sense… [I] just kept going forward.” yet,throughout her schooling, Lila never lost touch with her family on the Crow reservation. In fact, she helps her nephew “with his homework and stuff over facetime so [they’re] always communicating”  

Lila started her first year back in school with a six-week organic chemistry class but was hospitalized by health complications just before an exam. “I had surgery on Monday evening,then I was back to class on Wednesday,and I had an exam that Friday, so I totally, totally bombed it,"Lila continued,“I revived, and I made it through. It was a lot of pushing myself.” 

Lila is currently finishing her education with the help of a Return to Learnscholarship, among other grants and scholarships she learned about through the R2L Program,“I kept getting emails so that’s one of the first places I hit when I came back” Lila states. 

Lila plans on taking the GRE and hopes to eventually earn her Ph.D. 

Curious about returning as well? Learn more about the benefits here

   
nathaniel

Nathaniel, a senior studying sociology, had this to say about the return to learn program, "[the return-to learn program] was just a great help in getting back into the swing of things. I went fromfeeling all alone to havingthesupport and people who really do want you to succeed. It really was an encouragement.” 

Nathaniel began his college career by earning a general degree at a two-year university and transferring briefly to Washington State University. Shortly afterwards, he returned to MSU intent on pursuing an engineering degree. He began applying himself to his math and physics classes but couldn’t shake a constant feeling ofdefeat.So, Nathaniel declared, “I’m taking a year off, I’m gonna go hike the PCT.” He succeeded in hikingapproximately 650 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail before returning home.    

By the time Nathaniel returned to MSU, the Fall semester was well into session. Unsure of whether he wanted to return, Nathaniel talked to an advisor. The advisor pointed Nathaniel toward sociology and provided a class schedule which placed him only three semesters away from graduation. Realizing how close he was to a degree,Nathaniel decidedhe needed to finish. 

Nathaniel isintent on graduating with a bachelors in sociology, a field that he finds incredibly interesting. Nathaniel states that he loves sociology’s “grey area, [he likes] social interactions and knowing why people do certain things.” He states, “it’s fascinating.” 

Nathaniel’s take-away is overall, a positive one. “I would definitely endorse time off, it definitely helped me reassess what I wanted to do, recharge, and get going and [the Return to Learn Program] was just a great help in getting back into the swing of things. I went from feeling all alone to having the support and people who really do want you to succeed. It really was an encouragement.” 

Curious about returning as well? Learn more about the benefits here

   

paul

When we asked him about his experiences returning to school Paul, a Return to Learn student who recently graduated with a degree in kinesiology, stated that he was grateful for the time off, “It was those experiences that led me to doing what I’m doing now. My ability to coach and connect and work with people has a lot to do with my background.” 

Paul first attended college to give his father, who had recently received a concerning medical diagnoses, peace of mind “because then at least he’ll be there knowing that his son is going to college.” After his dad passed, Paul and his mother moved closer to family in Bozeman. 

One year after transferring from college in Arizona to MSU, Paul decided that he wanted to play college basketball, shifted his life back to Arizona, and began playing for a community college. However, at the start of his first game, right before taking his first step onto the basketball court, Paul had a staggering realization—he didn’t want to play basketball anymore. 

Paul spent some time on the ski slopes of Arizona before transitioning back to Montana to actively pursue a skiing career. Looking back, Paul declared “I was going to be in the magazines and in the movies. . . skiing took over my entire life.” 

Several years later, Paul did well in his first competition and entered the season in a promising way. Even though he had recently returned to MSU for architecture, Paul told his teachers, “I’m in a unique situation, I don’t know if I’ll ever have this opportunity again” and left MSU a second time. Paul began living his dream alongside the rise of fat skis, sports films, and Red Bull. 

Paul returned to MSU for the third and final time to earn a Kinesiology degree after a successful ski career. 

When asked about the Return to Learn Program Paul stated, “I have always looked at the program as people in a department that want to help people who didn’t have a clear path, or an easy path, to the finish line.” 

Paul’s background helped him open Epic Bozeman, a gym in town. “It was those experiences that led me to what I’m doing now. My ability to coach and connect and work with people has a lot to do with my background.” 

Curious about returning as well? Learn more about the benefits here

   
Francesca Francesca recently graduated with a degree in liberal studies. When we asked Francesca about the Return to Learn Program she stated, "Everyone I’ve worked with [at the Return-to-Learn Program]; their hearts are in it and everyone’s passionate about helping new students.” 

Francesca began her journey at MSU with the intention of earning bachelor’s degree in liberal studies. As Francesca neared graduation, her family split and the possibility of continuing life in the house she occupied briefly during an internshipin Billings,became nonexistent. Francesca simply couldn’t afford to come back to Bozeman. Shepersevered, found a place to live, and began finishing her last semester. 

Overwhelmedwith stressand a week away from completing her bachelors, Francesca wasn't able to turn in several of her final papers—failing some of her required courses. Following theend of thesemester,Francesca declined to continue her education despite her hard working, scholarly nature anddevoted herself to her personal life. 

At the same time, Francesca began to work for Little Big Horn Community College as a manager for a program titled “The Green House Project”. Francesca worked hard and became indispensable to the program. Later, as the Green House Project’s grant money fizzled out, Francesca was immediately picked up by the Office of Public Instruction on the Northern-Cheyenne reservation as the School-Community Liaison. “I believe they hired me because of the achievements in theGreen House Projectand for myskills incommunity outreach,” Francesca stated. 

Francesca excelled as a Liaison. So, when the school improvement grant that she was working on ended, Francesca was offered a permanent position with the school district. However, Francesca’s priorities remained rooted in Bozeman. By the summer, Francesca was back among the community that her daughter and she had grown to love during their time at MSU. Francesca applied for and became employed at MSU as the Graduate Program Coordinator for Native American Studies. 

Several years later Francesca applied for, and was acceptedinto,the Return to Learn Program.She was a returning scholar with the intention of attending school alongside her new fiancé. 

Francesca states, “Everyone I’ve worked with [at the Return-to-Learn Program]; their hearts are in it and everyone’s passionate about helping new students so I’m just really grateful for that.” 

Curious about returning as well? Learn more about the benefits here

   
jack

Jack, an Environmental Design major who graduated in May 2018, stated this about the Return to Learn Program, "Return to Learn has me feeling greatly appreciated at MSU. I am a Senior set to graduate in the spring and need all the encouragement I can get! 

I am very excited by this opportunity and want to thank R2L for all the support!"  

Curious about returning as well? Learn more about the benefits here

   

 
 

bottom infographic