Kelsey Weyerbacher grew up in Kinsey, Montana, a small farming community where she learned to love both the land and the stories of the people who worked it. As an MSU student, she has won the Vendler-Faye award for the top writing student, served as editor of the campus literary arts magazine, and represented MSU at national conferences for her research in rhetoric and writing center work.
However, MSU almost missed out on her. Kelsey’s first stop after high school was at the University of Portland.
“I originally went to Oregon because I thought I had to go out of state to pursue the arts. I thought, ‘People in Montana don’t do that.’ There wasn’t a lot of opportunity for that kind of work where I grew up—a farming community in eastern Montana.”
She transferred to MSU because she missed Montana.
For her senior thesis, Kelsey is assembling the written history of Kinsey and weaving it together with her photography and her own story of growing up on a rural farm.
“When we were little we had to go out and work in the beet fields. My family put me in the fields with the other talkative members of our farm crew. I used to hear a lot of stories out there.”
Now, she feels, it’s her turn to give those stories back to the world. “It’s my responsibility to be able to share those stories, and to share the culture of these people, a voice that hasn’t been heard yet.”
Kelsey was able to hear author Rick Bass discuss writing and the west when he visited Bozeman in
2015. She had the kind of experience that the writer in residence program is designed to inspire.
“It was awesome getting to hear another writer who is so connected to Montana talk about his work. We both share a love for this place and the challenge of expressing it so people who have never lived here can understand what it means to us.”