Brock Strande - 2018 Hilleman Scholar and 2020 Lead MentorBrock

Hometown:

Anaconda, Montana

High School:

Anaconda High School

Major and other areas of study:

Major-Business Marketing, Minor-Sustainability Studies

What does being from Montana mean to you?

To me, being from Montana means having a sense of community and a love for the outdoors. Montanans have a care for each other which isn’t seen in many other places which I have traveled to and some of the most beautiful wildlife.

What is it like being a college student at MSU?

Being a college student at MSU is very fun. The college is the perfect size and has an excellent College of Business which I have made many of my friends at.

How has the Hilleman Program supported you?

The Hilleman Program has supported me by giving me a smaller community at MSU. For example, all of my roommates are fellow Hilleman Scholars and most of my friends are as well. The program has also given me so much academic, professional, and financial support through the academic advisors and serving as a lead mentor during the Summer Success Academy.

Would you encourage a high school student to apply? Why?

I would most definitely encourage a high school student to apply! The number of resources which the program gives you makes college much less of a challenge. The classes will always be hard, but it is much easier to dedicate time to doing well in the classes when you don’t have to worry about how to pay for school or how to find a tutor. The program’s team of staff and peer mentors make the college experience much less daunting than it otherwise would be without the scholarship. 

Why did you choose to apply to become an MSU Hilleman Scholar?

I chose to become a Hilleman Scholar because I was dedicated to getting a college degree at MSU and I fit the scholarship’s criteria and purpose very well. Being from a small Montana town and working to help my family business meant that I could personally relate to the person who the scholarship was named after: Dr. Maurice Hilleman. Dedication, hard work, and my vision of a college education made me feel like I was a good candidate.

Why did you decide to attend Montana State University?

It took one campus tour for me to decide to attend MSU. I fell in love with Bozeman’s mountains and the campus. The College of Business also was highly accredited which was important to me. I didn’t even tour other colleges because I knew that MSU was the school I wanted.

What advice do you have for someone who is thinking about attending college but isn't sure if they want to make the leap?

Take the leap. There are many things which we can gain then lose but an education is something that can never be lost. It has been the best decision I have ever made.

What your most proud of accomplishing so far at MSU?

I am proud of the impact which I have been able to have at MSU. With my work in the Hilleman Scholars program, I have been able to get to know dozens of students and help them through the challenges of college.

What do you want donors or friends of the program to know?

I want those who support this program to know that they are making a real difference for many people. This is a program which enables people to live the lives which most never thought possible and that it an amazing thing to be able to give. Every one of us are grateful for the opportunities.

Matt Knuffke - 2018 Hilleman Scholar and Fall 2020 Graduate 

Matt

Hometown:

Kalispell, MT

High School:

Glacier High School

Major and other areas of study:

Major-Political Science, Minor-Sociology

What does being from Montana mean to you?

I think being from Montana, what it means to me, I think it’s about adapting. We have so many situations in Montana that we have to adapt to and improvise because of like winter for example. It always proves to be a challenge every year. Something always happens there’s car accidents, there’s bad weather and stuff, electric goes out. I think the Montanan kind of perspective is that it’s always been about adapting to the environment, adapting to the situation and trying to overcome it. To me, I mean, with everything that’s happened I’ve just tried to obtain that Montanan state of mind; where you know whether it was the pancreatitis, the epilepsy, not being able to find housing, you just got to adapt to the situation, look at all the options that are out there, look at the courses of action you can take, and ultimately at the end of the day you make a decision and stick to your guns about your decision.

What is it like to be a college student at MSU?

At first, I wasn’t going to attend MSU, I really wanted to go out of state just because in high school I was like “oh, like, I gotta get out of here, I gotta get away from the family and stuff.” I’m just so glad I didn’t because MSU has just proved to be a great experience for me. Being a student there has provided me with these great opportunities that I don’t think I would have had at any other university. With the assistance of the Hilleman program, being able to do an internship with a very well-known international rights author and professor, Franke Wilmer, that was just a great experience. I got to learn a lot about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I got to learn a lot about how an internship works, how working with a faculty member is. And just the professors I’ve had at Montana State University, they actually care about their students, they care about the learning that’s going on there.

Tell me about your experience with the MSU Hilleman Scholars Program?

My experience with the Hilleman Program has been great. I’m actually also a dual scholar, so I’m Horatio-Hilleman. Really, I’m blessed that Horatio Alger requires that some of their students or all of their students now have the ability to be in the Hilleman Program because that really to me has been the best blessing of my college experience. Because not only does the Horatio program really care about making sure their students are succeeding, but you really have the on-campus support of the Hilleman Program. Being able to do the internship that I talked about earlier and being able to talk to the staff of the Hilleman Program about any issue I had. Nicki Jimenez has been a phenomenal source of help for me. She helped me find housing when I couldn’t find housing. She’s helped me get through multiple medical issues and deal with professors who are, you know, being a little bit stubborn when it comes to my medical issues. She’s been an advocate. I think that’s really the word that would sum up the Hilleman Program, they’re an advocate for students.

Would you encourage a high school student to apply? Why?

I would most definitely encourage a high school student to apply. Not only to this scholarship but every single scholarship. You don’t know the relationships and the potential that any scholarship has to offer. So, I encourage all students in high school to apply for as many scholarships as they can. But specifically, the Hilleman program, I encourage them to apply to because of the fact that it’s not like any other scholarship out there. It really cares for the students that are coming into college and wants to have them graduate. It wants to make sure and ensure that they are getting an enriching experience from college and ensure that they’re actually taking something from the college experience. That’s why it is required to get involved on campus, they require doing an internship, because they want you to be able to come out of college and succeed in the professional environment because you learned so much. 

Why did you decide to attend Montana State University?

I chose Montana State University originally after I decided I didn’t want to go out of state because of the fact that I was actually going to be a physics major or a chemistry major. I wanted to work for NASA. I wanted to be in the STEM field, and I knew that Montana State University was a great area to go into STEM for. It’s a great research university, so I was like I could get research done there, I can get a great either physics or chemistry degree and be a prospect for NASA. I wanted to always be an astronaut; you know. That’s originally why I applied. And I took Calc 1 and Calc 2 and said, “you know maybe this isn’t my strong suit.” Now I’m a political science major, looking to go to law school once I graduate. And I am just so glad that I chose to go to Montana State. It’s proved to be a great experience. You know I’ve come a long way from being a physics and chemistry major but I’m ultimately proud of my decision.

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far at MSU?

I’m most proud of graduating in two and a half years. I think that just, you know, it speaks to the kind of person that I am. I don’t like to flatter myself a lot, but I mean, I guess I kind of have to to answer this question. I really apply myself and I really try to learn as much as I can. I promised myself I wouldn’t take less than 18 credits for any semester of college. The only semester I’ve taken under 18 was the summer semester I did, which I did the max you could do at 12 and every other semester I’ve done 18 or above.  My most was 23, I believe. I think really just graduating in two and a half years just really speaks to the person I am, I like to learn, I want to learn. And you know having all of these medical issues too and being able to get done in two and a half years. I mean it’s just something I look at and I’m nothing but proud of myself for having the grit and the determination to do that.

What do you want donors or friends of the program to know?

That you’re making a difference. You really are. My story is a testament to what you’re producing. You are producing students who are thinking differently about the future. You are producing students who are going to solve problems that no one can solve. That’s where your money’s going. It’s going to personal stories like mine, people who wouldn’t have been able to afford college. I encourage you to donate and continue to donate because it’s the simple quote by Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon which can be used to change the world.” You’re giving people the opportunity to continue their college education and that’s just the best thing possible. Having these scholarships and this program, when I graduate and I get a job I’m probably going to donate to this program, it’s just where I’m at.