Dear friends,

Earlier this fall, your university launched a new speaker series, called Crossing Boundaries, which invited individuals who each took remarkable journeys across seemingly impassible boundaries to speak on campus. Stephanie Land, author of the bestselling memoir "Maid," spoke in August at MSU’s First Year Student Convocation about overcoming food and housing insecurity as a single mother while pursuing her dream of a college degree. In September, bestselling author Javier Zamora shared the story of his nine-week journey as a child from El Salvador to the United States, which he recounted in his memoir, “Solito.” And in October, activist Anthony Ray Hinton, author of "The Sun Does Shine," spoke about his wrongful conviction for two murders, his experience being held on death row for nearly 30 years, and his work with attorney Bryan Stevenson to appeal his conviction, which was overturned in 2015.

These books speak to us. They provide insights about human resilience and the will to push through physical and mental hardship, injustice, discrimination and poverty. In reading them, we, ourselves, cross a boundary from our lives to the life of the author. We see the world from where another person stands, and we are taken to places, times and situations we would never have imagined ourselves. This diversity of perspective is more important than ever, and practice in understanding where others are coming from and what they have to say is fundamental for the nourishment of a peaceful and prosperous democracy.

While the individual journeys of our Montana State University students may be different than the journeys of Land, Zamora and Hinton, we know that many of our students also face extraordinary challenges throughout their college careers. And, like the three highlighted authors, our students demonstrate remarkable resilience. I am continually impressed by their determination to press forward in the face of adversity and work hard to achieve their goals.

This issue of “Mountains and Minds” will also provide you with glimpses of our students’ lives and educational journeys that may be different from your own. “A community lifeline” details the efforts of nursing graduate Sarah Nordlund to provide health care in her home community of Jordan. “Bridging the gap” recounts how a group of committed MSU business graduates is working to help ease the transition from college to a professional career for young alumni. And “A place for everyone” tells the story of an MSU outreach project that offers a summer experience for children with differing levels of needs while also providing important learning experiences for our students.

I have found these stories to be delightful, moving and, most of all, inspiring. I hope you do, too.

In Blue and Gold,

Signature of MSU President Waded Cruzado

Waded Cruzado, president
Montana State University