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By Jenalyn Slead, GEAR UP Program Assistant

Being a first-generation college student means that neither parent graduated from a 4-year college or university. Being first-gen can be a challenge because the student often doesn't have family with the personal experience of knowing the ins and outs of what it takes to navigate the challenges of college. That is why MSU joins with the National First-Generation College Student Celebration efforts in celebrating the achievements and accomplishments of our first-generation students. November 1st-9th, we will be partnering with TRIO Student Support Services and MSU’s First Generation Student Committee in a number of celebrations and events including Snacks on the Mall, a First Generation Student Panel, and a First Generation Photography exhibition in the MSU Library. We encourage all of our GEAR UP students, especially those who are first-generation, to join us in our celebrations! See flyer included in this newsletter for full schedule of events.

  • “Make sure that what you’re doing is for you” -Charles C, MSU Junior
  • “The most important thing is doing your work and showing up for class” -Anthony B, MSU Senior
  • “Organize your time.” -Noah C,

    MSU Senior

Orientation Leader Applications


Interested in being an orientation leader this summer? Complete the application process now and sign up for an interview! Why should you apply? Orientation leaders get to build leadership and communication skills, learn more about campus resources and services, meet other students from across campus, stick around Bozeman for the summer, connect with MSU Faculty and Staff, and get paid! Applications are due November 20th and can be found at

Orientation Leader

Native American Heritage Month

November is National American Indian Heritage Month. GEAR UP recognizes and honors the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans. Many GEAR UP schools are on Montana’s Native American reservations and we honor and respect our students’ cultural heritage.

Native American Heritage Month

Meet a GEAR UP Student

Sophia Nedens

Sophia Nedens is from Hardin, Montana. She is majoring in nursing and has been enjoying all the recreational activities located in Bozeman. Transitioning from a small town to MSU was intimidating, but GEAR UP has provided Sophia with all the extra support she needed to ensure her success. GEAR UP MSU has not only given her an abundance of resources, but a supportive community where she can openly connect with others!

Sophia Nedens

Sophia Nedens, Hardin, MT

Celebrate First-Gen

First-Gen celebration poster


Montana High School Volleyball State Championship

November 9th-11th

Cheer on local high school volleyball teams as they compete for the State Championship title at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. Congratulations to all GEAR UP school volleyball teams for making it to state!For more information, visit

American Flag

Veteran's Day

Friday, November 10th

Celebrate Veteran’s Day on Friday, November 10th. There are no classes on Veteran’s Day and MSU offices will be closed. MSU will have a Veteran’s Day Event on Thursday, Nov. 9th @ 9:00 am in Inspiration Hall titled “The Power of Storytelling: Keeping History Alive.” For more info email [email protected]

FFA Logo

Montana FFA Ag Expo

November 16th-18th

Over 1,500 FFA jackets will flood the Montana State University campus at the 12th Annual Montana FFA Ag Expo in Bozeman on November 16-18, 2023. The Career Fair will be hosted on Friday, November 17. The Ag Expo is sponsored by Montana John Deere dealers: Frontline Ag Solutions, C&B Operations, & RDO Equipment Co. Welcome to all GEAR UP schools attending the Ag Expo! For more information visit

Fall Leaf

Fall Break

November 20th-24th

Enjoy a much deserved break during the week of Thanksgiving! Take some time for yourself and prepare for the homestretch of the semester. The GEAR UP office will be open Monday, November 20th through Wednesday, November 22nd.

Student Success Stories

Angela Gopher

2022 Box Elder High School Graduate

MSU Sophomore in Nursing

Angela Gopher is an MSU Sophomore in Nursing from Rocky Boy, MT on the Chippewa Cree Reservation. She graduated from GEAR UP school Box Elder High School in 2022. During high school, Angela was always interested in the health field and even took a CNA course through the tribal college. After passing her CNA state exam, she began work at the hospital in Havre where she fell in love with the nursing field. Angela loved having a purpose in people’s lives and knew pursuing a degree in nursing was her calling. She applied to a few nursing programs, but decided on MSU thanks to a nursing scholarship with the help of the Caring For Our Own Program.

Just as with many students from GEAR UP schools, Angela’s first year at MSU was hard for her. Her high school was very small and she grew up surrounded by her close-knit Native American family and community, giving her quite a culture shock when she moved to Bozeman. Getting used to the pace of college work was also a struggle and at times she felt like she didn’t belong and thought about quitting. But thanks to her perseverance and the loving support from her mom, an MSU alumni, she stuck it out.


Above: Angela working at the Havre Hospital

Angela felt that because she came from such a small school with so few resources, she received a less advanced education compared to other students. This, however, didn’t stop Angela. By learning how she learns best and how to study, and with the mentoring help of the TA’s in her classes, Angela was able to succeed as a student at MSU. With the help of GEAR UP, she was able to have all of the school supplies and books that she needed for her classes. Angela also found a sense of community at American Indian Hall and was able to feel a little bit more at home.

Angela has been accepted into the nursing program here in Bozeman and will begin that journey in January. Additionally, she has been one of two recipients of the Indian Health Services Scholarship. She hopes to have a change of scenery and to work in an Indian Health Service Facility in Arizona post-graduation. Although Angela was scared to take that giant leap and move away from home, she’s happy she did and hopes to share with others to not be afraid to that that leap, because you never know how it’ll work out for you. Angela expressed that many students from small towns have a “crab in a bucket mindset” and feel as though they will never succeed if they leave home. She wants to tell everyone to have confidence in themselves and to take those big risks, because it might turn out to be the opportunity of a lifetime.


Above: Angela in her CNA class in high achool. Below: Angela returning for her second year of college at MSU.


Little ManZippy

GEAR UP Program Assistant, Jenalyn Slead, poses with ponies Little Man and Zippy. The MSU Library brought in animals to help students relieve stress during midterms.

Sophia and MomMacy and FamilyMacy and Family

Parent Family Weekend was October 13-14th. Above is GEAR UP student Sophie with her mom, Holly, and below is GEAR UP student Macy and her family during Parent Family Weekend.

Advising CounselorAdvising Counselor

On October 27th, GEAR UP and TRIO students gathered for breakfast and registration for the upcoming spring semester. Students were assisted by MSU Advising Commons advisors and Registrar’s Office staff.