President Waded Cruzado

President Cruzado welcomes the largest class of MSU Hilleman Scholars.

The MSU Hilleman Scholars Program welcomed its largest cohort ever to MSU. Thanks to the support of donors and additioinal investment from MSU Deans, 58 student scholars arrived to MSU on July 18th from 34 hometowns in Montana spanning from Corvallis to Fairview and Miles City to Kalispell. 36 percent of the cohort are from diverse ethnic and racial backrounds - to include 6 of Montana's tribal communities represented by 8 American Indian or Alaska Native students.

Now in its seventh year, the MSU Hilleman Scholars Program supported a record 171 student scholars this fall semester, providing not only scholarship support but mentoring, tutoring, leadership development and career networking. Our MSU Hilleman Scholars come from 90 communities and 43 

Kiana Jorata, a member of the 2019 cohort of MSU Hilleman Scholars, graduated in just three years in Spring 2022 with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Science. She is currently working for Belgrade Public Schools as a Behavior Specialist with 5th and 6th graders. Kiana plans on continuing her education receive a master's degree. While a student at MSU, Kiana found leadership roles within the program serving as a financial peer mentor in 2020 and as a lead mentor in 2021. Her leadership within the program allowed for younger students to seek guidance from her in financial planning, time management and scholastic success. Her dedication to education was shown in her work, both for the program and as a student.

Kiana Jorata

Kiana Jorata, MSU Hilleman Scholar Graduate

Kiana is a former foster youth and a teen mother. Kiana's son was two when she began with the MSU Hilleman Scholars Program in July of 2019. One of the first hurdles was finding consistent and afforable childcare which was vital to her success as a student during Summer Success Academy and the regular school year. Kiana stated, "Statistically, my life was set up for failure, but the entire Hilleman team was never going to let taht happen when I was awarded this scholarship."

This summer Kiana shared, "All my life experiences motivated me to go to school because I want to work with foster youth in any way I can. Another huge life factor that motivated me to go to school is my son. I had my son when I was 16 years old, and although I was young, I was going to do everything in my power to give him the best life I could. The most common perception was that I could not go to college because I had my son in high school, but I can proudly say taht I finished my degree in three years with honors and my son is happy, healthy, about to turn five and will start kindergarten in the fall. Everything in my life told me I couldn't make it, I was a former foster youth, teen mom, and Native American, but I made it and I owe a lot of that to the MSU Hilleman Scholars Program."

Bobcat Mentoring launched a pilot of Mentoring Circles in October 2022 thanks in part to a generous grant provided by the Natalie Orfalea Foundation. In partnership with Jeff Kaufman and the Full Circle Foundation, this pilot began with 54 MSU Hilleman Scholars. 

As a form of career development and mentoring, professionals within the Bozeman community share their experiences and wisdom in a small group format. It is interactive, allowing students to engage and ask questions. Topics include why mentoring matters, choices that impacted the mentor's career, and professional development. A total of four mentoring events will occur, allowing mentors to pour into these students multiple times throughout the year. Menotrs participating have a wide variety of careers, many with their roots in rural Montana.

We are grateful to the following mentors for their engagement in the project: Carl Nystuen, Chase Peterson, Michael Waterman, Mandy Dredge, Jeren Starr, Lou Saucedo, Angie Johnson, Cody Clausen, Chase Rose, and Ember Erickson

Hilleman Mentors and staff

2022 MSU Hilleman Scholar Mentor team with program staff.

Each spring semester, MSU Hilleman Scholars apply to serve as peer mentors for the entering cohort who begin their academic career at MSU during the Summer Success Academy. After a rigirous interview process, peer mentors are required to participate in a two-week leadership development program lead by Program Managers, Kristin Kawashima, Jenna Hicks, and Jen Shore along with the efforts of the Student Success Advisors, Ann Dickensheets, Stephanie Sharpe, and Kenny Bies. In addition to exploring important elements of student and leadership development theory, the Hilleman Mentor Leadership Camp also provides the mentors the opportunity to learn from other past speakers. including President Waded Cruzado, former Bozeman mayor, Carson Taylor, and Morton H. Meyerson.

A group of Hilleman Scholar Mentors noted, the Hilleman Mentor Leadership Camp gave them a sense of confidence that helped them succeed and effectively mentor their students. 

Serving as a Hilleman Scholar Mentor during the Summer Success Academy is a powerful leadership development opportunity often accompanied by long days helping the incoming class of scholars to develop a sense of belonging and purpose at MSU. Peer mentors provide insights and encouragement on topics ranging from how to set up a bank account to preparing for the first college exam. They help support scholars who are home-sick or just uncertain of how to navigate their new college environment.

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