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A Whole New World: St. Croix

The second you get off the plane, you know you are no longer in the states any more. For one you walk straight off the plane and are immediately outside to get your baggage in the open, yet humid, air. Many of the people that would stop us and ask us what we are doing on the island would say “what could you possibly study here?” but with an island rich of history and culture, I do not know how you could go there and not learn something new.

We got a historical tour of Christiansted from a native named Miss V.  She walked us through the area called Free Gut, which was the only area the “freed colors” were able to live. She also talked about how many of the people enslaved were not sold into slavery by their own kind but trusted the wrong people and tricked into thinking they would just be providing a service.

Law enforcement on the island is different than in the states. We were going down the road nearly 30 miles over the “speed limit” without having to worry about being pulled over. While talking with some locals who were fishing on the end of the pier in the restricted area and were asked if we wanted to go with to see, they had said law officials would not do anything about them being there, and they were right, but it was not an idea we were used to. With us having white privilege and a lack of law enforcement, white islanders, and tourists in particular, could get away with a lot without getting in any kind of trouble, slightly different than that of the states.

While on the island we were all assigned work sites. I was assigned to work with the Women’s Coalition, which works with domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. The Women’s Coalition works hard to provide as much support to survivors as they can. One way they do this is with their shelter to allow protection for victims on the island. A unique thing about the shelter is that it is located in the center of town, instead of the middle of nowhere, like shelters in the states, because the community is so tight nit, by having neighbors so close they can keep an eye out for the shelter and the survivors staying there. With St. Croix being a territory and not a state they do not get as much money from the government so they have to fundraise to produce enough money to support all their services. One of their main incomes comes from their thrift store, Closet to Closet. It is similar to a second hand store but is slowly working its way up to feeling more like a typical retail store. The Women’s Coalition offer other services including advocacy, educational programs, and support groups for survivors and their families.

We were able to meet with so many intelligent people on the island all able to bring input and get us to understand our shared history with the enslaved Africans and the long history the island has with it. The extremely knowledgeable Olasee Davis shared multiple articles including one to show how Enslaved Africans freed themselves of slavery by multiple revolts and their final revolt by threatening to burn the entire island.

maroon ridge 2 deanna

(The view from Maroon Ridge. Breathtaking!)

Professor Davis had also taken us on hike to Maroon Ridge, which is beautiful and rich in its history. Maroon Ridge was an area where slaves who had escaped would hide in the cliffs and on the hills, as they had nowhere to run. Many were left with the option of being caught and brutally tortured or jumping from the ridge in the belief that their soul would return to Africa. It was extremely chilling standing at a spot many had once jumped from.

 

mr davis deanna

(Professor Olasee agreed to take a photo with us in front of this old light house.)

Before going to the island we were required to read Voyage of the Sea Turtles by Carl Safina and learned about sea turtles and their interaction with the island. We were fortunate enough to watch a leatherback sea turtle lay her eggs on Sandy Point Beach. The process for the leatherback to lay her eggs is quite lengthy but extremely fascinating to watch.   Our guide was able to answer most of our questions about leatherbacks but there is still so much we do not know about their life in the sea. However, we do know their laying process in that they will go into a state of trans as she digs a hole and begins to lay her eggs. When she finishes laying her eggs she carefully covers them up and begins to mix the sand around it to disguise where she laid them and make her way back to the sea and never get to see her babies.

The island is rich with history and I was so grateful to learn it all and experience it first hand.

-Deanna Hoff

St. Croix: A Journey Through History

The moment I stepped out of the plane in St. Croix I knew that I was in for the experience of a lifetime. The warm sun beating down on my skin and the beautiful palm trees that surrounded me created an atmosphere of pure bliss. The beauty of the island is truly magical, but it was the people and the history of St. Croix that made me fall in love.

My very first night on the island, I attended a town meeting regarding a project to try and recover artifacts from several sunken ships used in the transportation of enslaved Africans believed to be near the island. Although I attended this meeting to learn about the project, I left learning far more about racial stratification. Most people seem to tiptoe around the topic of race, but the people at this meeting spoke from the heart and directly addressed their feelings of frustration about how only white people were standing up there trying to research their history, and their culture. They advocated for wanting to be able to involve their younger generation in this project, as well as the strong desire to keep their history alive on the island. I walked out of the discussion with so many internal questions on, “How would I feel if someone came to try and research my heritage and life being the complete opposite of me?” This question is a very valid one, and also one that has no simple answer. Being able to listen to the islanders, so passionate about their heritage, both recovering from the past and pursuing positions and information for their newer generation, was stunning. This meeting provided the perfect introduction to the culture of the island.

I had the opportunity to visit the St. George Botanical Garden and the Estate Whim Plantation. On these tours I was able visually see the history I was learning about. It’s one thing to read about the slavery on the island, but standing next to the giant sugar mill and witnessing the vastness of the plantations was emotional. Learning about the history of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, and specifically its effect on the island of St. Croix, shaped a large aspect of my travel study.

mill joelle

I also got to go on a walking tour of one of St. Croix’s major towns Christiansted. In 1735, Christiansted was officially founded by Danish West India on behalf of the Danish Monarchy. Race and class were clearly explained and shown in physical location during the walk around Christiansted. For example, the free blacks were only able to live in the part of town called ‘free gut’, which was in the lower and undesirable area of town. In comparison, the white people who had higher rank and class were able live in the elaborate, and elevated American Hill. We can often analyze how race and class affect our daily lives, but witnessing the clear distinction in elevation and quality of housing that divided the races was very eye opening and thought provoking. The walk around the town provided me with an abundance of knowledge and appreciation for the town of Christiansted.

free gut joelle

Another huge aspect of the trip was exploring the environmental causes that are at play in St. Croix and learning the importance of conservation on the island. We had the opportunity to go down to the beach at night and watch a leatherback sea turtle lay her eggs. The leatherbacks are an endangered species currently, and being able to spend the night learning more about them from the people who are working tirelessly to provide a perfect safe haven for them to lay their eggs was moving.

boab tree plaque joelle
“This specimen originated in West Africa, noted as one of the oldest life forms on the planet. These trees provide food, medicine, shelter, and places of worship. This tree is over 250 years old. Under this tree, some of the women who joined Queen Mary Thomas, in the rebellion of 1878 were burned alive.” (St. Croix Historical Preservation Committee).

 

We also had the opportunity to go on a walk to explore and learn about the Baobab tree. If it had not been for this tour and the articles we read prior to the tour, I would have passed by the tree without a clue of the significant role that they play here in St. Croix. The rebellion of 1878, known as Fireburn, was an uprising for better wages and rights for the laborers of sugar plantations. They sought these rights by protesting and burning down multiple plantations along St. Croix. . If it weren’t for all of the influential women and men who fought and suffered to earn their freedom, and their rights for equal pay, there would have been no change or progress. It is very important to pay respect to those who were instrumental in these acts of resistance, and make sure that we continue to educate and empower people to continue acts of resistance when it is needed. During this walk Olasee Davis, an ecologist and professor at the University of the Virgin Islands, shared that he still engages in acts of resistance today when fighting to preserve the natural habitat of St. Croix, particularly the Baobab tree, so that generations to come can also gather by the tree and know the significance.

boab tree joelle
A huge Baobab tree we saw on our tour.

My time spend in St. Croix has forever changed my life. I had the opportunity to dig right in and experience all the amazing history of the island. I analyzed the privileges that I carry, while also doing deep reflection to interpret discrepancies between other races, classes, and genders and how that affects life on the island. They say that after traveling you will never be completely home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere.

 -Joelle Beyer

My Time in St. Croix

St. Croix Alana

This past May I was given the opportunity to travel to the beautiful Island of Saint Croix in the Virgin Islands. Saint Croix is apart of the Virgin Islands, which is a territory of the United States. The people I met and everything I learned is an experience that I will never forget. I’ve never learned so much as I did on this travel study. We learned about everything; from culture to wildlife, to the individuals we met, to ourselves.

Slavery played a huge role in the history of Saint Croix. Like the United States, many of the enslaved people were brought over from Africa. For over 2 centuries from the 1730’s to the 1960’s, enslaved Africans and freed African laborer’s powered plantations on the island.

There are many similarities in slavery between the United States and Saint Croix. There were some differences though. In the United States, enslaved Africans had the Underground Railroad and people willing to help them get to safety. Running away was extremely dangerous, but there was hope. There was nowhere to go on the island besides up.

lighthouse alana

Olasse Davis, a professor and native to Saint Croix, took us on a hike to Maroon Ridge. When enslaved Africans would run off, they would hide in caves along this ridge. When they were being found, or believed they were being found, they would jump into the water below. They didn’t believe they were committing suicide, instead their souls were going back to Africa. Sometimes, if you were captured, they would cut off your head and place them throughout the trail to try to frighten other run-aways. If they jumped, and survived the jump, they would attempt to swim to Puerto Rico, which is about 40 miles away. As more and more people would die, however, the water became infested with sharks and the trek became more risky.

 maroon ridge alana

One of my absolutely favorite days was spent outside walking around Christiansted. Ms. V, a schoolteacher on the island, took our group on a walk through the town and was incredibly knowledgeable on the history of Saint Croix. Ms. V, being so insightful, inspired me to want to do my own research on my own family history. We went to an area referred to as “Free Gut”. This was an area where the freed Africans lived. To be considered “free”, you had to be Christian and you had to be part of the military.
free gut house alana

This is a picture of three of the homes. Yes, that is three different homes. Each set of stairs leads to a different home.

 

The homes were 30 feet by 30 feet. After some time they could upgrade to 30 feet by 70 feet but that is still very little space, especially for a family. This neighborhood is placed at the bottom of the hill, and the Whites lived above them on the top of the hill. At all times, the freed Africans had to have their cards with their identification that stated that they were free and had to be able to prove it.
While there, I chose to work at an Early Head Start program on the Island. As an education major and a 7-year nanny, it was amazing to see the difference in childcare.

early head start alana
The center was in Christiansted. There were 5 of us placed here. The center has a 4:1 child to teacher ratio policy. They have 6 classrooms at this center and each classroom can hold up to 8 children at a time.

 

They are very sanitary in the Early Head Start Program. When you enter a classroom you must put booties on, wash and sanitize your hands, all before entering the room. If you are changing a diaper, whipping a nose or mouth of a child, you must wear gloves and you must change the gloves with each new child. During naptime each day the teachers bleach each toy that was played with that morning so that germs are not being spread. Children have their own cot for naptime with a blanket that gets sanitized each evening as well. Because the center has a play-based curriculum they want the floor and all of the toys to stay as clean and sanitary as possible.

 

The play-based curriculum means the children have time to explore and learn things on their own. The children are provided with breakfast, lunch, and a snack each day. After breakfast the kids have time to roam around the classroom and play. In the 2-3 year old classroom there was a mini lesson connected with an art project completed after their playtime. The teachers based their lessons on what the student’s interests were. One of the days I was there, they were learning about creatures in the sea and a little boy liked Octopi, so the teachers taught a lesson about Octopi. I loved that the children had so much say in what happened in the classroom.

 

The children were so responsible. Each child is given their own chair and spot at the table and their own plate. They encourage the children to eat on their own and have proper posture. After every meal they have the children brush their teeth.

 

The teachers don’t say “no” to the children. If a child is doing something wrong they redirect them. For instance, if a child is throwing blocks, you grab the block and ask them if they want to make a tower with you. I find it easy to quickly yell “No”; however, the children here are instructed to continue to be children. If a child is crying they ask what is wrong, and they allow them to finish crying. Children cry, so let them cry.

 

I am so incredibly thankful for the time I spent on the island. I cannot believe how much I learned about St. Croix, culture, history, and myself in just 18 days. I hope one day be able to return because there is still so much I need to learn.

 

-Alana Nelson

 

 

That's a Wrap! June Registration 2015

Whew! We are now at a close from a very busy week here at WSU!

From volleyball games, free ice cream; getting your laptop, signing up for classes, and to going to see your future room in your residence hall; it’s been a great week here at WSU!

june reg

All of our Housing staff greatly enjoyed getting to know you! Our student workers were having a blast working with you and giving you tours to your future housing assignments! We hope you enjoyed your time getting to know the campus before fall semester starts!

june reg2

There will be many things to do when you come to campus for orientation in August: settling into housing, getting acquainted with the campus, meeting to your roommate, classmates, professors, and much more!

june reg3

We are all so delighted to welcome the class of 2019 to our WSU Community!

Enjoy the rest of your summer! See you all in August!

june reg4

 

-John Otis

A Fiery Adventure in St. Croix

kyler
(The sunset from our last day on the island.)

 

This summer, I got the chance to participate on a travel study to the island of St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. I was emerged in the culture for 18 days, participating in learning with the Woman’s Coalition of St. Croix. Through my work and my personal experiences on this island, I learned a lot about systematic injustices and a lot that correlates with race, class, and gender.

Our group participated in a meeting about uncovering and discovering wrecked enslaved ships on the first day. This  project is to discover artifacts from sunken slave ships around the shores. During the meeting, a woman brought up her concerns with using the words “slave” ship. She encouraged a renaming of the project to no longer including the word “slave” in their projects title. Another man, brought up an interesting point that “wealth, power, and destinies” were up to the people on the island of St. Croix to decide. The goal of the project is to bring in more history to the narratives of the island.

I learned about the different terminology of the word “slavery” verses the words “enslaved people”. A slave is an object or property, while an enslaved person is a person forced to be a slave. Language makes a big difference. They want people to use the correct terminology and have an open mine to understanding when learning about a new culture.

Our group took a small tour around the town of Frederiksted, one of the two towns on the island. We saw a statue of General Buddhoe, who helped create the emancipation for St. Croix. Buddhoe helped lead a revolt to freedom and he gave orders that no white person was to be killed. This statue shows the struggles that many went through in order to get emancipated. The statues are consciously placed around the pier to show how proud the people of St. Croix are of their history.

At our work site, we got to hear different perspectives about culture from Clema Louise, the director of Woman’s Coalition. Because the community is very small and everyone knows everyone, the issues of domestic violence and rape are hard to face. Every community approaches the problem of systematic injustices differently. She described how there is a need to include men around the conversation around the issues of battered women. She told us how the Woman’s Coalition of St. Croix’s power and control wheel of violence model, used to address issue of gender-based violence’s, is modeled around Duluth Minnesota’s. However, the model that St. Croix has is adjusted to be culturally sensitive to the communities.

Instead of working one day, my work group had the chance to observe court to see how St. Croix runs their judicial system. It was very nice to engage within court of a different culture. The judge was very open to hear both sides of the stories in small claims court. She was kind of like a counselor in a way while also being the judge.

The travel study group got a creative lesson about the history of St. Croix by going on a walking tour of the Whim Plantation. The actors were interesting to see. A woman sung songs about enslaved people. Her singing told the history of the island and about how the enslaved people got their freedom. She sang about the history of the three queens who led the uprising of St. Croix. In the book Divers Information on the Romantic History of St. Croix: From the time of Columbus until Today by Florence Lewisohn, it describes the story behind the singer’s song. The book says that the three queens (Queen Mary, Queen Agnes, and Queen Matilda) lead labor riots in revolts against injustices. At first, I thought it was going to be very uncomfortable to watch the locals reenact scenes of enslaved people working around the plantation. This was not the case.

kyler2
(Here is a huge Boabab tree in front of one of the run down plantations.)

 

On my seventh night, I had an amazing opportunity to spin fire with Kiki Mason from Kiki and the Flaming Gypsies came to visit me at Cottages by the Sea. That’s right, I am a fire dancer. I have been spinning fire poi for two years now! Kiki and I had a deep conversation about life and how you have to trust and believe in yourself. This was a very enlightening conversation to me, because when you are about to graduate, you tend to think about life a lot. Kiki told me that life would take you by the wind into the direction you are meant to go, and those words have followed me back to Winona.

9bbcae0ba8cf176222dbaeabf950ee8c

(One of the fire dancers from Kiki and the Flaming Gypsies)

 

While on our trip, students from another University was staying in St. Croix as well. The students from this school said something that bothered me. What they said reminded me of the “white savior complex”. They traveled with a male professor and he made a comment about how he thought that “with the help of his students” that they could truly make a difference on the island.” Their comments made me uncomfortable because I know that WSU came to St. Croix as humble people to experience a culture unlike our own. The students from the other university were there to “help” people, but not necessarily learn from the culture like we were.

The class got up at 4am, traveled across the whole island, and watched the sunrise at Point Udall. It was the last time this class would be soaking up the sun together like that. It was a very powerful experience and I am glad I got the privileged to go. I almost did not get on the plane to return to Minnesota! I had to though, so I could bring two Cruzan dogs from St. Croix (which is a kill shelter) to a “no kill” foster care home in Minneapolis.

kyler and dogs
(The two dogs I was able to rescue. Aren’t they cute!)

 

Now only one question remains- when do I go back?

-Kyler Steffe

St.Croix: More Than Paradise

Blaire's St. Croix Picture
(The view from Maroon Ridge.)

 

The U.S Virgin Islands are known as America’s Paradise in the Caribbean. The sun is always shining, the water is a brilliant blue and the concept of “island time” is alive and well. Travel sites advertise the many attributes of these beautiful islands in hopes to hook tourists in. I was lucky enough to visit the island of St. Croix and experience the many attractions. However, I got to experience what most tourists do not get the chance to, an inside look on St. Croix’s rich history and culture.

St. Croix is the largest of the Virgin Islands sitting just 120 miles from Puerto Rico, another U.S territory. The island itself has been under different leadership including Spain, Netherlands, Knights of Malta, Great Britain, France, Denmark and the United States. The Danish in particular were a major influence in the Transatlantic Slave Trade that included the island of St. Croix. The enslaved population of the island during this time included around 20,000 people.

The population today is around 50,000 with the main ethnic groups being Afro-Caribbean, Puerto Rican and Caucasian. Many Crucian family lineages come from people who were enslaved under Danish rule. Many places on St. Croix have history that was sacred for people who were enslaved. Maroon Ridge is just one of these places.

Maroon Ridge has a long history as a sanctuary dating back to 1650. Maroons were enslaved people who ran away to the northwest hills, later known as Maroon Ridge. The enslaved people would escape slavery and either jump off a cliff to commit suicide or attempt to sail to Puerto Rico on a piece of wood. If caught, they  would be tortured or killed.

Something I observed on the island, that is lacking in the United States, was the connectedness of the people with the past. As we sat in a community meeting, I noticed many members taking notes and being involved in the presentation. The presentation was for a project called The African Slave Wrecks Project. The project focused on finding sunken ships that were carrying enslaved people during the Transatlantic Slave Trade Era. The community members at the meeting spoke about their concerns for this project and implications it has.

The building we were in was one of the first stops a person who was enslaved would make before being sold to plantation owners. The Crucians on the island are very connected to the history of the island and even trace back their family lineage for generations. This is not a situation I have observed in people not of African descent.This connectedness could come from the strong will their ancestors had. It is known on the island that people that were enslaved freed themselves. In the article, “St. Croix slaves freed themselves” written by Professor Olasee Davis, he explains that revolts by enslaved people began shorty after slavery started on the island. They revolted so long and so hard, that in 1848, Governor Peter Von Scholten had no choice but to free the enslaved people, or else the island was going to go up in flames.

While on the island, our group had the chance to participate in many tourist activities. We went on a catamaran tour (which is a huge boat), snorkeling, SCUBA diving, and turtle watching. Even though much of the islands population are people of color, non-native white people ran most of the tourist attractions. It is interesting that the main native populations, Crucians, are not represented highly in the tourist industry.

The island of St. Croix is truly a paradise and if given the chance, everyone should visit. There is plenty of fun in the sun activities to complete, and the island is enriched with so much culture and history. So take a trip out to the island, visit the sacred spaces and interact with the people of St. Croix. I promise you will not be disappointed.

 

-Blaire Dallman

A Short History of the E-Warrior Nation

a gif of several laptop and tablets

Just look at how far technology has come in the last two decades!

 

Oh beloved laptop, what would I do without you?

We are all very lucky to go to a university that takes into account the ever-changing technology world. Often referred to as a “Laptop University,” WSU gives each incoming student– freshmen and transfer students– their choice of the most recent Apple or PC computer upon admittance into the university. Two years later, they are able to get the new laptop model and when they graduate they have the ability to purchase a laptop as well. Recently, Winona State University became the first public university in the Midwest to distribute both laptops and tablets to their students.

Because the laptop program has had such an impact on our university, I thought a few info-graphics would be a great way to display some fun facts regarding it. After talking with a WSU alumna, faculty members and digging around the Internet, I found some interesting information to share with you guys.

It probably doesn’t come as surprise that most of you, approximately 65%, chose an Apple laptop over a PC. The growing popularity of Apple computers and Apple in general is a relatively new trend. An alumna told me that seeing a Mac computer on campus back in 2000 when she enrolled was very rare, and the only students who used them were the art students. Weird, right? It seems just the opposite these days. In recent years Apple has taken over the technology world and I’m sure we will see that 65% rise as younger generations begin attending WSU.

Surprise, surprise! The same trend can be said for the tablets. The Samsung Galaxy Tablet and the iPad Mini. Tablets at WSU were just introduced the spring of 2014, and only 50% of students received one. I don’t have one ( :( ), as I only had one year left before graduating when they were introduced. For those of you who do have them, consider yourself very lucky! I really think our society is going to start pulling away from the laptop and using only tablets. My roommate is student teaching for her degree in special education and she says she uses her iPad mini with students daily! They really are becoming a part of the lives of individuals.

When the laptop program was first implemented 18 years ago, most of us were at home watching Disney movies. Most individuals were limited to large desktop computers and those in business programs were the only ones to use laptops. Three short years later, the program was in full effect, and Winona State students had the choice between an IBM ThinkPad and an iBook. If you’ve ever seen an IBM ThinkPad you would probably wonder how students ever carried something like that around campus. They are massive laptops around 1” thick, and only carried around 6GB of storage! Now days, most iPhones and Droids have more storage than that.

The University went on further to see what it’s students wanted and they responded, “Bigger and better.” Since then WSU has brought in brands such as Gateway Toshiba and HP, and most recently tablets. Of the roughly 10,000 students enrolled in WSU,  100% now have laptops.

Soon IT will announce it’s newest additions to the Winona state laptop family. New versions will be available for students this upcoming year. In February, there was showcase event where students could preview the devices being considered for the next hardware update.  Although the final decision about new devices is a mystery, we know that WSU will be sure to impress like it has done for the past 18 years.

This is just a short history of how we became the e-Warrior nation and you can find more information about the history of the Laptop Program on the Information Technology Services webpage.

I also want to issue a special thank you to Maureen Dolezal Anderson (’05) and Ken Janz, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Information Officer, for their help with this post.

–Katlyn Plourde

Updated by: Rachel Adam

A Short History of the E-Warrior Nation

a gif of several laptop and tablets

Just look at how far technology has come in the last two decades!

 

Oh beloved laptop, what would I do without you?

We are all very lucky to go to a university that takes into account the ever-changing technology world. Often referred to as a “Laptop University,” WSU gives each incoming student– freshmen and transfer students– their choice of the most recent Apple or PC computer upon admittance into the university. Two years later, they are able to get the new laptop model and when they graduate they have the ability to purchase a laptop as well. Recently, Winona State University became the first public university in the Midwest to distribute both laptops and tablets to their students.

Because the laptop program has had such an impact on our university, I thought a few info-graphics would be a great way to display some fun facts regarding it. After talking with a WSU alumna, faculty members and digging around the Internet, I found some interesting information to share with you guys.

It probably doesn’t come as surprise that most of you, approximately 65%, chose an Apple laptop over a PC. The growing popularity of Apple computers and Apple in general is a relatively new trend. An alumna told me that seeing a Mac computer on campus back in 2000 when she enrolled was very rare, and the only students who used them were the art students. Weird, right? It seems just the opposite these days. In recent years Apple has taken over the technology world and I’m sure we will see that 65% rise as younger generations begin attending WSU.

Surprise, surprise! The same trend can be said for the tablets. The Samsung Galaxy Tablet and the iPad Mini. Tablets at WSU were just introduced the spring of 2014, and only 50% of students received one. I don’t have one ( :( ), as I only had one year left before graduating when they were introduced. For those of you who do have them, consider yourself very lucky! I really think our society is going to start pulling away from the laptop and using only tablets. My roommate is student teaching for her degree in special education and she says she uses her iPad mini with students daily! They really are becoming a part of the lives of individuals.

When the laptop program was first implemented 18 years ago, most of us were at home watching Disney movies. Most individuals were limited to large desktop computers and those in business programs were the only ones to use laptops. Three short years later, the program was in full effect, and Winona State students had the choice between an IBM ThinkPad and an iBook. If you’ve ever seen an IBM ThinkPad you would probably wonder how students ever carried something like that around campus. They are massive laptops around 1” thick, and only carried around 6GB of storage! Now days, most iPhones and Droids have more storage than that.

The University went on further to see what it’s students wanted and they responded, “Bigger and better.” Since then WSU has brought in brands such as Gateway Toshiba and HP, and most recently tablets. Of the roughly 10,000 students enrolled in WSU,  100% now have laptops.

Soon IT will announce it’s newest additions to the Winona state laptop family. New versions will be available for students this upcoming year. In February, there was showcase event where students could preview the devices being considered for the next hardware update.  Although the final decision about new devices is a mystery, we know that WSU will be sure to impress like it has done for the past 18 years.

This is just a short history of how we became the e-Warrior nation and you can find more information about the history of the Laptop Program on the Information Technology Services webpage.

I also want to issue a special thank you to Maureen Dolezal Anderson (’05) and Ken Janz, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Information Officer, for their help with this post.

–Katlyn Plourde

Updated by: Rachel Adam

Warriors to Warriors: Career Advice from Alumni

Blog post graphic featuring Warrior-to-Warriors  typography

As this year’s graduating class leaves academia for the workforce, here’s a little advice from Warriors who have already made that transition. Be sure to join the Winona State Alumni group on LinkedIn. #WarriorsForever:

1. Continue to Learn

“Just because college is over, that doesn’t mean you should stop learning. Continue to seek out ways to educate yourself so you can continue to learn and grow throughout your careers and in life.”– Julie C.

“Keep learning! Reaching for knowledge will take you far in your career and in life.”– Charlotte Roraff ’99 and ’01

“You have just completed a four(ish) year college “sprint” – now begins the career marathon. You know a lot, but not everything. Keep learning, stay relevant, and most of all be competent. Best of luck!”–Bekki Anderson ’01

“Never stop learning and developing yourself. And, like others, I encourage you to build and utilize your personal network. It will produce most of your career and business opportunities.” –Daniel Mortensen ’79

“Seek out and take advantage of unusual opportunities.” – Carol Sheffer ’59

2. Work Hard and Persist

“Your degree may open doors but it is what you do with it once you go through the door that matters most.”– Tom Liskey ’80

“Don’t be too prideful to start at the bottom and have to work your way up.”– Samantha Pepprock

“Take advantage of your network and don’t be afraid to take risks and reach high.”– Matt Wandzel

“Take the average person’s work to the extreme, (if the average salesperson makes 10 phone calls a day, make 100) and I guarantee you will succeed. Persistence beats resistance. – Cody Ellinghuysen

“If you want it, you need to prove you deserve it. At this point of your career, you are above no position in your field you have a long time ahead of you to get to where you want to be.” – Brant Hilson ’02

“Be relevant, nobody like the new kid who leaves at 5pm every day, but everyone likes the new kid who is willing to roll up their sleeves and help you at 5pm.” – Mike Mowry

3. Build a Professional Network and Maintain Those Relationships

“Don’t burn bridges in your professional life… you will never know when you need someone to help you! Networking is your friend in any career you may go into.”– Heather P.

“Always keep networking and maintaining your relationships. Find a mentor and mentor others.”– Christina Walburn ’02

“Being able to do the work is the minimum entrance requirement. Building and maintain positive relationships will open many doors for you.”– Brad Ballinger ’83

“Follow your dreams, set goals, work hard, treat others how you would want others to treat you, be a team player. My first job out of college was working with a company where there was a lot of politics. It wasn’t the “all professionals and respectful environment” I thought the “career world” would be. The best advice somebody ever gave me (30 yrs ago) was don’t take everything personally but take it professionally. Discern the advice that would be useful and throw away the rest. Be the professional example and be kind to others.” – Rhonda Puetz ’85

4. Consider Your Long-term Career Goals

“Dress for the job you want, not the job you’re in.” – Craig Jeranek ’11

“Ask for what you want. Employers don’t want to develop your career for you. They can help aid your career development, but you have to know what you want and ask for it (within reason of course).” – Rachel Haabala ’03

“In an interview, be sure to ask the interviewer how others who have held the position you are applying for in the past have developed as professionals within that role and how that role prepared them for growth in the company. This will help you determine if your potential employer plans for growth opportunities beyond that role or if you are truly in a dead end job.” – Justin Day ’12

5. It is Not What You Do, But How You Do It

“Follow your heart, but take your brain with you”– Tim Rendall ’79

“Keep a positive attitude and outlook of the work you’re doing– it’s noticed by leadership, and will take you far.” – Morgan Wright ’13

“Communicate eye to eye.”– Mark Wallace ’80

“Chase your dreams, the money will follow. Do what you love, and do it with everything you have.” – Paul DiGioia ’85

6. Save and Invest Your Money

“Hold off on making any big purchases and try to live like a college student the first few years after college. Invest the money you save.”– DeAnna Goddard

“Work hard, spend wisely and invest early. Let the money you earn work for you to enhance your life vs. being trapped by a huge payment plan.”– Corey Mercer

7. Find a Balance Between Work and Life

“Work is stressful, especially right when you start, so you have to figure out a way to leave work at work and enjoy your downtime.”– Alyssa D.

8. Join WSU’s Alumni LinkedIn Group
Read more advice and connect with these and other fellow Warrior grads to help you stay #WarriorStrong in your new careers!

By the WSU Alumni Relations and Career Services Offices

A Final Farewell

three college girls as freshmen and seniors

It’s been a long, fun journey from freshmen to seniors.

As the days continue to tick down and boxes are checked on my graduation checklist, it’s beginning to seem daunting that I’m really going to be thrust out into the real world after switching my tassel at commencement. It’s not that I’m afraid of where I’m going….rather, I think it’s that I’m afraid of what I’m leaving behind.

Winona has been such a loving and exciting home to me for the past four years, a place where I’ve made the best of friends, met the best of professors, and expanded my horizons beyond what I ever thought possible. I’m afraid to leave that behind, to lose ties, to say goodbye to a home that treated me well.

At the same time, that fear is comforting, because fear of leaving means that I chose a really amazing school for me. Apprehension about leaving my academic career behind means that I’ve learned so much, and anxiety about missing people means that I’ve made true friendships that have grown to be a part of my heart.

I don’t think I can thank any one person for that.

I thank the town, the teachers along the way, the people who supported me, the beauty of the bluffs, and the experiences that have made my time at Winona truly the time of my life. Thanks for following me through my journey at Winona State University, and cheers to the years to come.

–Leah Dobihal