New International Student’s Perspective.

by Melan Shifa

About Me

My name is Melan, and I am an international first-year student at Minnesota State University. I applied for the Honors Program before coming to the US, so I was part of the program since day 1. Currently, I am doing a double major in physics and computer science. I have always been interested in everything to do with science and technology so I decided to pursue physics since it’s extremely broad and added computer science to learn about technology and be able to merge my theoretical knowledge of physics with my technical skills of computer science to work on technologies that would solve major problems happening in our world. My goal is to start different startups that address the problems preventing us from having a sustainable world. I hope to work on startups revolving around clean energy, vertical farming, transportation, and the like. I am also into astronomy, which is one of the reasons why I chose physics. Learning about the immensity of the cosmos humbles me and gets me to a peaceful state of mind. One fact that I would like to share is that – experiments suggest all the stars, planets, black holes, every single matter big and small make just 5 percent of the universe, the rest is Dark Energy and Dark matter which we really don’t know much about, scary, isn’t it? 

My experience as an International Student

The International Students Association was one of the organizations that made me feel right at home here at MNSU. Coming thousands of miles away from home was a difficult thing due to being away from family and friends and the culture you grew up in. Some instances might make you feel like an outsider. It gets hard to fit in but that is what I signed up for. For me, it did get difficult at first, even though this is not my first time moving. I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, grew up in the culture and traditions. Then came 2017 when we moved to Ethiopia and everything around me was new. I had to adapt fast, starting from the way people spoke.  I knew how to speak the Ethiopian national language Amharic, but the way I did was different, which I only noticed when moving there. About 3 years passed by and I was almost used to everything. Then you know what happens; I moved about 7700 miles to here, the United States. I was scared since this time I am away from my family and on my own. I was ready to be challenged, but luckily, I adapted and got on track fast. This surprised me. I hypothesize that my previous experience built me up to be able to adapt to new environments quicker. 

I expected I would be alone here, knowing no one outside my friends. But the international student community at MNSU is massive, like surprisingly massive. I had the chance to meet different people from different parts of the world including my home countries Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia. I eventually came across the ISA, and at that point, I knew I did the right thing coming here. ISA welcomed us, new students, in a warm manner. They organized events that allowed me to learn about the different cultures around the world, including things about my own culture that I did not know. I saw that ISA was an ambassador to the international community at MNSU and even in Mankato. This made me eager to join them and be part of the mission. I wanted to contribute something to help grow the organization. They welcomed me with open arms to the board, working side by side with some of the most inspiring students on campus, I look forward to my journey with ISA. 

My first project under ISA will be organizing a massive ISA talent show planned to take place this spring semester. It was fun brainstorming ideas, debating which one to go with, and coming to a common agreement. Working on the graphics for the project is what my main responsibility is, and it is the next level. Imagine working on publications that will be put everywhere across campus. I look forward to this event since it will be showcasing many cultures and talents. The dinner afterward will also be a great opportunity to connect with fellow students and learn from each other. I wish whoever signs up to perform good luck since the prizes this time are attractive. It is also a great way to showcase what talents you have as you never know where it might take you. Overall, this has been a glimpse of what the cultural part of my moving experience looked like. I look forward to my next couple of years here and learning new things. 

Melan Shifa 

Media Relations Coordinator 

Honors Program Office 

Connect With Me



Instagram : @melanshifa

Photography page: @themobile.photographer

Honors Alumni Perspective: Working in Public Health During COVID-19

I am Kirsten Siebenga, and I studied community health education and political science at Minnesota State Mankato. My time at Mankato, and within the Honors Program, set the base for my curiosity in what I am now studying in my graduate program: Public health and health policy! I am working on my Master of Public Health (MPH) at the Gilling’s School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Department of Health Policy- oof that is a mouthful! The cool thing about public health is that it frequently draws on all three of the core competencies of global citizenship, research, and leadership. I was well prepared for my current studies in North Carolina!

Public health is shifting from being centered around research to being centered around equity, although research certainly still drives public health practice. To understand equity in the context of public health initiatives, like policy, it takes a number of the skills I developed in Honors and in my reflections and practice of the global citizenship competency. For example, in one of my courses, we work within a team to create a white paper on barriers young Latinas face in receiving the HPV vaccine. As part of our discussion in our paper, we are reflecting on the unique cultural implications and the structural bias at play. Although research guides our paper, it is drawing on the objectives within the global citizenship competency that makes it a more “person-centered” discussion.

 Leadership is woven throughout public health and you certainly don’t have to look far to see the current impact that leadership has on public health. Currently, because of the pandemic, I am using my leadership skills in a different way. Rather than a structured leadership position within a club or group, I have been thinking about what leadership means within a public health team. UNC has a broader focus on team projects, especially with students from other concentrations. I have been sifting through ideas like how to balance giving constructive feedback while also being open to a discussion and learning from teammates. Additionally, I am really conscious of the current division in our country around some public health guidances. I take it as a part of my personal responsibility as a public health leader to model things like mask-wearing.

Currently, I am completely online for my courses. Although it is a shift from what school looked like normally, I am finding that there are plenty of strengths with being online, such as more flexibility in my schedule and the ability to re-watch lectures when I am studying. Our professors have been cognizant of the fact that, as public health students, we are inundated with discussions of COVID-19. For many of my classmates and me personally, we have also had family members affected by the virus. Although we do sometimes use examples of COVID-19 in my classes, they tend to mainly focus on the core material of the course.

After I graduate, I want to continue influencing health policy in some capacity, possibly at a national foundation or a policy think-tank.  I have recently found an interest in the topic of Medicaid participation and outcomes in rural states, especially as more states begin to actually implement after expansion. I am only in my first semester, and I am expecting and excited to watch as my future goals evolve as I continue in my education!

As always, Go Mavs and wear a mask!

My Honors Program Experience as a PSEO Student

by Nick M. Huynh

Hello all! Before we begin, I would like to thank Jonathan and Michaela from the Honors Program Media Relations team for providing me with this opportunity to share with you my experiences as an Honors student. I would also like to thank those of you who are reading this blog post for your interest in learning something about me!

About Me

My name is Nick, and I am currently a high school senior at Mankato East, attending Minnesota State University, Mankato through the PSEO program. I joined the Honors Program late into my sophomore year of high school and decided to stay at Minnesota State Mankato for my undergraduate years, given my family’s legacy of producing graduates from this university. I will be graduating in Spring 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry. I have always been passionate about biological research concerning epigenetics, genomics, and molecular biology. For this reason, it is my long-term goal to pursue a Ph.D. in hopes of continuing research at a university and passing my knowledge on to others, whether that be my students and/or my colleagues.

My Experiences in the Honors Program

As a high school student participating in the Honors Program, I have had incredible experiences in my own professional development thus far. My first-year experience coursework emphasized self-reflection, and I have become much more self-aware of my strengths, goals, and capabilities. Under the guidance of Dr. Leah White and Ms. Ginny Walters, I have made connections with numerous faculty members who share a common research interest that I do. One of the primary reasons I chose to be an Honors student was to establish these connections early on so that when I am officially enrolled as a student, I will already have a range of opportunities for original research experience and fellowships, all of which will be the driving force for my postgraduate goals.

Throughout my time as an Honors student, I have also been getting involved with the student body by connecting with fellow peers in the Lounge and attending campus events with my peers, such as theatre performances. A moment that bridged my identity as a PSEO student and as an Honors student was during the 2020 quadrennial Honors Program site review where I brought attention to the highlights of our Honors Program, as well as the possible setbacks within our curriculum. I suggested alternatives to maximize student learning, i.e., suggested changes in the curriculum for our STEM majors as most of our current curriculum is heavily humanities-based. Being a PSEO student as well, I must emphasize how rare it is for a high school student to even be a part of the Honors student body. Due to this notion, I suggested to revoke the traditional PSEO policy of registration, i.e., differentiate between a “traditional” PSEO student and a PSEO student who is in Honors; I expressed my intention to have priority registration just like other Honors students rather than registering last minute with PSEO students. Ultimately, my leadership was showcased through my initiative to speak up, regardless of my age, for what is fair for all students, consequently promoting a democratic student body. We are currently going through curriculum revision, and I am pleased to have played a part in this revision.

Overall, my experiences in the Honors Program have been amazing. I hope that by being an Honors student enrolled as a PSEO student, I will bring more prospective PSEO students who plan on enrolling at MNSU into this program!

Looking Ahead

As of now, Dr. Kristen Cvancara, who is the director of fellowships, has been in close contact with me during my senior year to lay out a holistic plan for the coming years. The goal is to get into an REU this summer and connect with prospective faculty mentors. I am excited for all that lies ahead of me during my undergraduate years. Most of all, I am looking forward to showcasing how my “Big Ideas” will become “Real-World Solutions!”

Connect with Me!


Phone: Ask!

Instagram: @nick.m.huynh

Introducing… the First-Year Honors Launch LCC!

This blog post is spotlighting Afnan Husain, the 2020-21 Learning Community Coordinator (LCC) for the first-year Honors Launch Learning Community (LC) at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Hey everyone!

My name is Afnan Husain and I am a sophomore at Minnesota State Mankato. I am studying Computer Science with a minor in German. I am Indian, but I was born and raised in the Middle East. I have four brothers, one of which goes to Mankato and is studying Aviation Management.

I am currently a Learning Community Coordinator (LCC) for the Honors Launch Learning Community. This is my first year as a LCC and I am very excited to see what I can accomplish this year.

I am also a College of Engineering, Science, and Technology Senator in the 88th Student Government. It is also my first year being a part of Student Government and I am hoping to achieve a lot through the Senator position too. Furthermore, I am excited to meet new students in and out of the Honors community even though that is very hard with the pandemic.

Making a Mark on History: COVID-19 Community History Project

The theme to this year’s Honors Beacon focused on “making a mark on history” and we are continuing that theme with this last blog post of the year. We are focusing on the University Archives’ COVID-19 Community History Project currently going at Minnesota State University, Mankato which involves student workers and university archivists who are working to curate the new library collection. Working closely with the project are two former Honors Program directors, Dr. Anne Dahlman and Dr. Chris Corley.

It goes without saying that it is important to learn about and reflect on history, but it is just as important to document the history we live in, especially during an unprecedented global pandemic like the one we currently face.

With this in mind, the University Archives has started the COVID-19 Community History Project. As the name suggests, it is a project where submissions are open to all students, staff, and faculty who wish to contribute. The pieces can range from photos to art projects to personal reflections to interviews with people.

“We would like to capture a broad example of students, staff, faculty, and what’s going on,” Acting University Archivist Heidi Southworth stated. “We’d like to capture that and make the available in the University Archives for future historians and researchers who want to write about what happened and what was going on with social history.”

Capturing history is something that the Archives has done since the start of the university in 1868. The Archives contain records on what was happening at that time, while also containing records on what was happening when the university was going through the 1918-20 Spanish Flu.

COVID-19 has often been compared to the Spanish flu, in terms of it being a global pandemic that has forced worldwide shutdowns. While creating the “Spanish Flu” section of the university’s 150th anniversary book, last year, the Archives found records from the time of the Spanish flu that show how universities shut down statewide, much like what has been done in response to COVID-19.

“The only reason you can know much about what happened is because we have the records of the normal school,” University Archivist Daardi Mixon said. “It’s important that we take this opportunity to do that today so that with our next anniversary book, there will be a section on this and how the university responded.”

Taking time to document history as it happens is important when dealing with the emotional aspects of it. Much like the nature of the world and how it is ever-changing and evolving, people’s emotions are doing so too, which change their perspectives.

“As time goes on, people’s memories can become changed or impacted by it so in the moment we’re looking to capture the raw emotions and experiences as it’s happening,”  University Archives Technician Adam Smith said. “We can also document how those people are thinking about in the future how they think about the past and how those experiences have changed over time.”

Change has also come to the Archives in the way they’re conducting their work. They have introduced new tools to the process that were in the works already, such as utilizing Zoom to conduct and record interviews, as well as usocial media capture and automatic audio transcription capabilities for other purposes.

Student workers are getting the chance to use these tools to not only fulfill their employment but also gather materials and interview people, as a part of their role within the project. Students get trained in a way allows them to learn new concepts while they’re employed.

“As part of their training, a lot of those student workers in this project are being asked to go through a list of oral history resources that Heidi [Southworth] put together for students to learn how to conduct an oral history and what an oral history means,” Smith said, “so there is an opportunity for students to learn about historical resources.”

The project is also also a part of a new library collection being curated which meant that getting student workers involved in the internal processes was tested at the library before it fully started.

“We tested this with our own library student workers before we subjected anyone else to it, in order to work out the kinks,” Interim Dean of the Library Chris Corley said. “A lot of the library student workers are writing journals about their experiences and emotions, so what we’re going to have is a lot of first hand accounts from students in how they experienced this.”

Corley is not only Interim Dean of the Library, but is also a former Honors Program director. Corley credited his experiences with Honors to having a greater understanding of the broader purpose and importance that the project serves in telling individuals’ stories.

“One of the things Honors taught me was to pay more attention to how singular events that have happened in history affect people in different ways,” Corley said, “so while all of us are experiencing the COVID pandemic, we’re all experiencing it in different ways because of our race, ethnicity, gender, and social status.”

A group facing the COVID-19 pandemic different from many other students is international students. International students not only make up a sizeable portion of student workers at the university, but also a sizeable portion of the overall student population, with there being around 1,200 international students who attend the university. During this pandemic, many of them are unable to go home due to travel restrictions. With finances being tight and influence on public policy often being minimal, these students have been facing struggles. This is where the project becomes an important opportunity for international students to fulfill a need for employment and have their voice be heard.

“Not only to utilize their experience as a launching pad but then to provide them an opportunity for hope to get employment to pay bills, buy food and do something meaningful that’s not a hand-out,” Dr. Anne Dahlman said.

Dahlman is a former Honors Program director, originally from Finland, who now serves as Interim Dean of Global Education. In her role, Dahlman has helped international students in beginning to work with the project and has connected closely with their experiences in doing so.

“International students are very proud in terms of resourcefulness and ability to take care of themselves because they would not get a student visa if they didn’t show they don’t need the help of the U.S. public,” Dahlman said. “They’re treated as very capable workers and as researchers, and are providing valuable input to the history of our campus, our region, and our country.”

Journals and written pieces are valuable project contributions, but they are valuable to students who often view constructing such pieces as an outlet of relief. For international students, this is especially true being so far from home in such an unprecedented situation.

However, as Dahlman noted, “They say that especially when you are very emotional that you go to your first language so the reflection would be very different if they went to their second language.”

While this can be a barrier to those who do not know the writer’s first language, it also provides a way to show the diversity of the student population and keeps intact the goal of gaining people’s perspectives as history unfolds. In doing so, there is great importance in being sensitive to people’s emotions and connections during this time.

“When people reflect, I hope we give that we are able to allow them the space and modality that allows them to reflect, so we are not just having them share their thoughts,” Dahlman said. “This will give students a way to talk to people back home and include them in their reality in a way that’s constructive and has a lot of potential.”

For those who are interested in putting forth a submission for the project, it is important to note that no piece is ever taken for granted.

“Sometimes, some things come to us and we’re like, ‘What is that?’, Archives Technician Anne Stenzel said. “Sometimes something will come in and be donated and it may not appear to be important, but sometimes somebody will ask us a question and that particular document provides that exact answer.”

“The things that you donate may not appear to be valuable but they are to us and they may provide some value to someone someday.”

Ultimately, the COVID-19 Community History Project serves a purpose that is greater than the sum of our parts, in terms of how these submissions will tell the tale of who we are to future generations, long after we’re gone.

To learn more about the project, please visit


Spring Break Story Time

The first eight weeks have blown by and gone, which means it’s Spring Break time. Before we went on Break, we were doing some “lounge”-ing around and thinking of our favorite Spring Break memories.

“My freshman year of college, I did an alternative spring break trip to Appalachia. After that, I basically worked and slept. Well…except for senior year of college. That was the year I really went wild and crazy, and I had my wisdom teeth taken out.”
– Ginny, our associate director

“My family likes to travel a lot. So when I was in freshman year of high school, I took a trip to Paris and London with my family. We flew into Paris, spent some time there and went to the Arc de Triumphe, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower.

Then we took the train under the English channel, spent some time in London and saw the Tower of London, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Then we flew out of London after that.”
– Samantha

“Most of my spring break memories are getting caught up on work. In college, I often had a speech tournament over one or both of the Spring Break weekends, so that limited travel elsewhere. 

Honestly, I’ve never really minded not having a traditional spring break experience.  I found a slower week to catch-up and maybe even get ahead was really good for my mental health.  I don’t mind winter, so being somewhere warm is not a need.”
– Leah, our director

“I wasn’t able to afford any Spring Break trips until I went back to college as a non-traditional student in my mid-twenties. That year I went to Jacksonville, Florida to visit my sister and her family and get some sunshine. All the other Spring Breaks, I stayed home and worked a lot so I could pay my tuition.”
– Pam, our administrative assistant

“When I was a kid, my dad was in college at MSU-Moorhead and we usually went somewhere during his Break. One particular trip was driving to El Paso where we passed through several states and even went to Juarez, Mexico one afternoon.

I remember we did a fun photo op where my dad took a picture of me on the Mexico side of the border sign, as an 8-year-old kid, and my mom being on the U.S. side. El Paso and Juarez were cool and vibrant with culture in a new way to me as a kid.”
– Jonathan 

“My second year of college, I went to FL with my family. Our flight out was delayed by 8 hours so we spent it all in a small airport in Fargo and I finished one of my three books that day.

We went to Harry Potter World, my entire family got the 24-hour stomach flu, and then we went to the beach and spent the week at the pool. We stayed at my grandparents’ house they rented in a retirement community so I spent a lot of time with older adults.

I listened to a lot of good live music and got really, really, really, really sunburnt. I peeled for like 5 weeks after we got back.”
– Emily

From everyone at the Honors Program, we hope that y’all have a safe and fun Spring Break!

How to Balance It All: Work, School, and Extras

Life is one giant balancing act- between work, classes, and being involved in campus, there isn’t a lot of spare time for us to relax and be social! So how do we find that happy medium that works everything in? I went around to all of the Honors staff and asked for advice on how to try to stay balanced. Here were their responses:

1. Understand that there truly is no such thing as balance.

While adults may preach ‘it’s all about balance’, when it comes to this aspect of our lives there is no such thing. Everyday is going to be different: some days you will spend 12 hours in the library and others you won’t even look at your backpack. When you have too many of one type of day, that is when you begin to run into problems. Once you accept that there is no perfect equation, you will be that much more efficient. Just know that you can have a little bit of everything.

2. You have to continuously fill your own cup.

Find what truly makes you happy, and then don’t give it up. For some people, that means going to the gym everyday for an hour. Others enjoy reading for 20 minutes before going to bed. Whatever it is that keeps you grounded and content is something that you keep in your schedule no matter what.

3. Manage the time in your day.

When someone says ‘balance’, what they really mean is ‘manage’. Time management is such an important tool for busy students! If you are booked everyday between 8am-4pm, then you should utilize the time you do have at night. For some people, time management means making a list of the things you absolutely need to get done that day and adding in more as you complete your list. For others, this means allocating a certain amount of time a day to different things. Again, every day is going to be different but that isn’t a bad thing.

4. You cannot be the best at every single thing you do- focus on one at a time.

When it comes to classes, work, being involved on campus, and having a social life, there are a lot of different areas for us to stand out and excel. But we can’t excel in all of them. Each semester or time of year, pick one area of your life that you want to be the  very best in. You want to put in more time at work and be a great employee? Take less credits that semester or cut down on what clubs you are active in. Want to get all A’s in your classes? Cut your volunteer hours in half that semester. Have a fabulous research project idea but nervous it may take up all your time? If it is something you want to do, make time for it. Look back at number 2 to remind you how to pick your priorities. 

5. Learn how to say no.

There is no easy way to say this but… no. Learn how to say that one word and you will find that your schedule becomes more manageable and enjoyable. If someone asks you if you would be willing to do something for one of your clubs but it doesn’t sound like fun to you, then say no! Adding things into your schedule because they’ll look good on a resume isn’t a good plan. You only get four years to experiment and find your passions, so why spend it on things you don’t like? Get involved and volunteer for things you do enjoy or want to pursue. It may take some time and you’ll be constantly changing your schedule around, but it is totally worth it in the end.

6. Do what makes you happy.

This is a cliche, I know, but it really is applicable to everything! There are so many things that you can choose to do with your time- watching movies, volunteering, research. But with all of these opportunities, it can become difficult to make our final decisions. Don’t do a resume-building activity instead of something that sounds really interesting to you just because you think it will look better in the long run. Do what sounds interesting or makes you happy. Do what you’re passionate about and the experiences you have will beat everything else. Everyone enjoys passionate people way more than they enjoy good-on-paper people.


Written by Emily Schiltz

Three Simple Joys

The beginning of October means that warm weather is long gone, midterms are around the corner and students are becoming more stressed by the minute. With this busy time ahead, we asked students to take a moment and reflect on some things that give them joy. We received over 50 responses, and here were some of their responses:

“Music, Friends, Sleep”

“Coffee, color coded notes, and my roommates”

“Hiking, writing, and drawing”

“Petting my dog, fall air, candles”

“A long night’s rest, something making me laugh with my friends, feeling like I had a productive day”

“God, God’s Creation, and God’s Love”

“Books, coffee, sunny days”

“Iced coffee, candles, wearing comfy clothes”

“Plants, music, candles”

“Quiet time, Church, My Journal”

“Crisp autumn air, morning yoga in my pajamas, a warm cup of coffee in my favorite mug”

“Sports, Painting, Grey’s Anatomy”

“Taking a long nap, reading a good book, and petting cute dogs”

“Music, coloring, chocolate milk for breakfast”

“Popcorn, planners, and hope”

“Naps, candy, a good belly laugh”

“Music, video games, driving”

“Video games, music that fits the moment, dozing off under a blanket in the evenings”

“Coffee, blankets, Grey’s Anatomy”

“Home cooking, hot tea, spending time with roommates”

“Music, Hot Chocolate, and Food”

“Laughter, friendship, accomplishment”

“Fly a kite, look at old pictures, call a picture”

“The smell of rain, sweatshirts, quesadillas”

“My family, my health, reading”

“Personal time, exercise, and surrounding myself with people I love”

“Sleeping in, reading, and thunderstorms”

“Watching Netflix in PJs, coffee, and checking off boxes!”

“Coffee, hanging with friends, playing cards”

“Laying in a hammock, rock climbing, and taking naps”

“Sitting by moving water, beating Emma in Bananagrams, Reading a good book!”

How to Get Organized

You have gone to all of your classes and received all of your syllabuses. Now what do you do?

As a college student, it is really important to keep on top of assignments and exams. But when there is so many classes to keep track of, how do you keep it all straight? As a returning student, I’ve got tons of tips on how to get organized and stay organized for the semester.

1. Clean it all out.

For me, organizing my school supplies is the first big step in getting ready for the semester. I test all of my pens and highlighters to make sure they work and then put them in a shared space with my pencils. I put all of my loose leaf paper in binders and label all of my notebooks and folders. This helps me make sure I am always prepared for my classes and sets my mind at ease.

PRO TIP: Pack your backpack for the next day the night before. Put all your notebooks, pencils, and lab manuals in there before crawling into bed and the next morning will be a breeze.


2. Buy a planner.

There are soo many different options when it comes to getting a planner. If you have used a planner in the past, then buy one that has worked for you. If you are new to the wonderful world of planners, look for a planner that has both monthly and weekly pages. There are multiple sizes, colors, and set ups to choose from!

PRO TIP: Don’t buy the first planner you pick up. Look through a couple different planners and see if there is a style you like best. Each planner is different in its own way and it takes time to decide what may work for you.

weekly calendar me weekly calendar pay

3. Copy down assignments/exams from your syllabus, one at a time.

After receiving a syllabus, I take a highlighter and quickly skim through the schedule portion and highlight all of the assignment due dates, homework due dates, or quiz and exam dates. When I have time later, I write all of these due dates down in the monthly calendar area of my planner. Going one syllabus at a time helps me stress less and feel less cluttered.

PRO TIP: Highlight from the date your exam/due date is on all the way through the end of the assignment title. This way, there is little chance of you reading the due date wrong and putting it down on the wrong date.


4. Color code.

Color code EVERYTHING. Splurge and get yourself a new set of pens, pick a color for each class, and write in all of your due dates in that color. This helps me organize my brain so that when I see an orange assignment due date, I know what class it is for. If all your assignments are in black, you will have to label them with the class name too. This takes up extra space, whereas colors keep it simple. It also brightens up my calendar!

PRO TIP: Use a color for all of your meetings, club activities, and/or extracurriculars. They can all be one color or a separate one for each of those too, but it will help keep you organized on that front too.

PRO PRO TIP: Use red for your exams!! Red stands out in your brain more so it’ll stick out on your calendar. You’ll never miss studying for an exam this way.

monthly calendar

5. Make weekly to-do lists AND daily to-do lists.

Every Sunday night, I look at my monthly calendar and see what I’ve got going on this week. From here I make a master list of all of the assignments, chapters, or quizzes I have to complete by the end of the week. After this, I go through each day and write down things that have to get done that day. If I have a reflection due Wednesday, I write it down for Tuesday. Chemistry assignment due Friday night? It goes on Thursday’s list.

PRO TIP: Write 3-5 things down on your To-Do list each day. Prioritize those things and complete them. If you can add more, great, but start small and don’t overwhelm yourself.

weekly to do daily to do

6. Have multiple calendars or calendars in multiple places.

Being able to access my calendar from multiple places has become extremely helpful in my daily life. I have a planner where I keep my monthly schedule as well as my To-Do lists, but I also utilize the calendar app on both my computer and my phone. There are many different calendar apps you can use, but I like Google Calendar. You can download it on your phone and your laptop, making your daily schedule easily accessible at any time! Write in your classes, meeting times, when you want to go to the gym- you name it.

PRO TIP: Use at least 2 different types of calendars. One should be a planner, where you write in your due dates and your exams, and the other a daily schedule, such as Google Calendar. As you get busier and schedule more things, it will get harder to keep track of. A daily schedule will save you.

To learn about other calendar apps, click here:

7. Utilize your devices!

Your laptop and/or phone have hundreds of resources readily available to you. Use them. Phones have access to apps such as Reminders, Notes, Office365, Quizlet, etc. to keep you organized AND to help you study. For those with a Macbook, the Sticky Notes app is super convenient. You can pull up a sticky note and keep it in the corner of your home screen as a reminder of what you need to do every time you open your laptop.

PRO TIP: Don’t pay for an app when you can find a free version. There are so many free versions of organizational apps, don’t waste your money.


I hope these tips help!


Meet the First-Year Honors LCC!

kade lccThe 2019-2020 Learning Community Coordinator for the first-year Honors Launch Learning Community is Kade Patterson! Here’s his introduction:

Hi! My name is Kade Patterson. I am a sophomore at Minnesota State University, Mankato. I am majoring in mathematics education aspiring to be a teacher at the high school level. I am from Sauk Rapids, Minnesota. Sauk Rapids is right across the Mississippi River from Saint Cloud. I have a mom, dad, brother, and sister. My brother, Keegan, is going to be in ninth grade this year and my sister will be a freshman in college. My sister is going to school at Minnesota State University, Moorhead and is planning to major in Elementary Education.

kade-siblings.jpg Over the summer, I worked as a maintenance worker at Territory Golf Club in St. Cloud, Minnesota. I also coached a fourteen-year-old baseball team over the summer. In my free time I enjoy hanging out with friends, playing games, and being outside. In high school, my favorite things to do were play baseball and be in band. I am majoring in mathematics education because throughout my schooling I have excelled at math and have found great joy in solving math problems. I chose to go the education route instead of the countless other routes because I had a teacher in high school named Chuck Kruger. He inspired me to become the best person I can be, and I want to be able to inspire other students like he did for me.


I am excited to come back and get to know you all! I had a great experience in the Honors Launch Learning Community last year. The learning community played a big role in making my first year at college a positive experience. It provided me with a group of people that I knew around campus. It also provided me with the people that are now my closest friends. The learning community also gave me a really nice introduction to the Honors Program at MNSU. A lot of the events we went to as a learning community were directly tied to the Honors Program and what the expectations for Honors students are. I cannot wait to meet you guys and help you have a positive experience like I did!

Interested in learning more or in joining the first-year Honors Launch Learning Community? Check out the Learning Community webpage or contact Honors at or 507-389-5191.