Exploring the Nature of the West from Rankin Hall

By Sarah Griffin

Cordiales saludos to all from Costa Rica’s Pacific side! My name is Sarah Griffin and I was a member of the Resources and Sustainability GLI group that graduated this past May. I was also one of the many GLI members whose Beyond the Classroom experience was thwarted by the pesky Covid-19 pandemic.

Initially, I was devastated by this loss. As a Spanish major and Environmental Studies minor, I had been anticipating my travels through Central and South America for years. I had serious doubts that any “at-home” version of said experience could come close to replacing it. But as soon as I stopped trying to turn my apple into an orange, a world of opportunity opened up before me, all from the comfort of 101 Jeannette Rankin Hall.

I took an internship with Camas Literary Magazine of the Environmental Studies grad program. Founded by graduate students at the University of Montana in 1992, Camas is a student-run biannual literary magazine that aims to “cultivate fresh ideas and perspectives while remaining rooted in the landscapes and traditions of art and literature in the American West.” Their mission is to provide an opportunity for emerging writers and artists to publish their work alongside established voices while celebrating the land that connects us all. And that’s exactly what it did for me.

I was motivated to work for Camas because I am a nature writer myself. I have been copywriting for businesses for roughly two years, but I had never worked in print. While interning with Camas, I learned the ins and outs of print publication as well as improved my writing, editing, and critical thinking with thanks to the variety of work that was submitted. Whilst honing these skills I also got my foot in the door by rubbing elbows with renowned writers in the field.

In addition to the nuts and bolts of developing a magazine issue, I learned from the experiences of my peers: how they came to be editors, how they find publications to contribute to, how they pitch themselves, which programs one should have fluency in, and how they balance workload between pet writing projects, school, and day-jobs. It was challenging to work with a media as subjective as art and literature, but it helped me identify and hone my leadership skills. I had plenty of practice in clear communication, humble expression of opinions, listening, follow-through, and self-direction.

Something I particularly enjoy about this Beyond the Classroom experience is how it related to my Global Theme of Resources and Sustainability. At first glance, one might think it’s a stretch to count working for a nature magazine as a project toward the conservation of resources and implementation of sustainable practices. But in all actuality, Camas (and things like it) are the genesis of all successful environmental work; they are a discussion forum for why people should and do care. Without personal connection, accounts of direct impact, respect, or admiration, no amount of science-based policy will drive sustainable adjustments to our ecocide-al lifestyles.

My understanding of the diverse perspectives related to environmental challenges such as resource use and sustainability were stretched by authors and artists that contribute to Camas from all over the world. Somewhere between Fundamentalist Mormons in the dessert of Utah having their worldview shattered by dinosaur bones in their backyard and the transcendental experience of photo-journaling Grizzlies hunting from an Alaskan stream during the salmon run, we all share common ground. The questions that arose from participating in the curation of Camas Spring 2022 boiled down to: Collectively, how do we decide what to do with this singular, precious piece of common ground?

As the seasons keep turning, I look forward to exploring this question with people who look, think, speak, and interact with their corner of this common ground wildly different than myself.

I am grateful for the ways in which GLI prepared me to do so. I wish you all curious minds and open hearts.

Chao for now,

Sarah

Sláinte to Spending a Semester in Ireland!

In the spring of 2022, I studied abroad in Cork, Ireland. My Global theme connecting me to this experience was resources and sustainability. University College Cork was the first internationally recognized school to receive a Green Flag from the Foundation of Environmental Education, so I was able to learn a lot about the University’s perspective of sustainability and how we can apply these practices here at UM or within our individual lives. Most of my classes I took were science courses where I learned about Irish flora and the culture’s connection with the environment.  

I noticed during my time abroad that the Irish were much more in tune with each other and their environment than we are in the United States. Although there are many people who care deeply about other people and the environment in the U.S., this connection to things outside of yourself is deeply engrained within their culture as a sign of respect.  

I had the opportunity to meet many people from all over the globe and this has shaped my perspective of global issues and has pushed me to become a better leader in the aspect of confidence. One of my most fond memories will be competing for the University’s dance team and truly experiencing how the Irish celebrate(it goes on for days).  

LGBTQ+ Mental Health Research

My Beyond the Classroom experience, which centered around the Franke GLI theme of Public and Global Health, began at the University of Montana where I joined Dr. Greg Machek’s psychology research lab. He guided me through my own research project exploring differences in childhood bullying and mental health outcomes between folks with different sexual minority identities. This became quite a large project because I had so many questions I wanted to ask, and a large database to dig through to find some answers. I felt very fortunate to have a mentor who supported my curiosity and encouraged me to push myself as a student and beginner researcher. I also had opportunities to assist with other research being conducted by Dr. Machek and the students in his lab. Their research looked at cyberbullying on a college campus during COVID. It was great to be in a lab learning about something that I would not have otherwise explored, and to learn from my mentor and other students. 

Doing research on the LGBTQ+ population was very eye opening for me as a member of that community. I previously heard that LGBTQ+ folks had higher rates of bullying and mental health concerns, and that inspired me to tackle this topic for my Beyond the Classroom experience and senior thesis. My research taught me that some subgroups (i.e. lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer) within the LGBTQ+ population are more vulnerable to bullying and negative mental health outcomes than other subgroups. For example, participants who identified their sexual orientation as bisexual, queer, pansexual, asexual, or ‘other’ reported being bullied more often during their youth and were more likely to experience suicidality than gay or lesbian participants. Understanding that helped me to see the importance of LGBTQ+ mental health research that looks at factors within the LGBTQ+ community, instead of just comparing LGBTQ+ folks to the straight, cisgender population. 

After a year of working on my project, I submitted my research findings to be presented at three different research events. First, I presented part of my study at the University of Montana Conference on Undergraduate Research in April 2022, and I was awarded best Humanities oral presentation! Next, I traveled to Chicago in May 2022 to present another portion of my study at the Association for Psychological Science Convention where I had the chance to listen to psychology researchers from around the world.

Finally, in August 2022, I presented more of my findings at the American Psychological Association Convention where I had several great conversations with other students conducting LGBTQ+ mental health research. It was amazing to be able to travel across the country to share my findings and connect with people who share my passion for mental health. I am so happy I joined the Franke Global Leadership Initiative as a freshman, and even more grateful for the support of the Franke Global Leadership Initiative Fellowship which made these opportunities possible for me! 

Bozeman Daily Chronicle

For my beyond the classroom experience, I spent the summer working as a photojournalist for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. This opportunity was the perfect way to immerse myself in a professional environment for what I hope to be my career after college. I spent each day going out on assignments, working on a long form story, and bettering my photography skills.

I was able to tie in my global theme Natural Resources and Sustainability through not only the stories I was able to photograph, but also a long form story related to my theme. I spent a few hours each week at a unique farm in Bozeman that not only inhabits three generations of sustainable farmers, but also leases to other farmers such as a flower farm and a mushroom farm on their land. I loved being able to highlight the way that the Hicks family uses their land and the other tenants that come and go.

Although I wasn’t in a foreign country, Bozeman still felt like a life changing experience to benefiting my future. I lived with the newspaper’s new agriculture reporter for the summer, so I was able to tag along with her to go to stories ranging from bees, potatoes, and the Yellowstone flood’s aftermath.

I’m excited and ready to apply the skills and information I learned from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle to my Capstone. Here’s to Senior year!

https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/photos/essays/many-hearts-one-farm-the-three-hearts-farm-west-of-bozeman/article_01b6e844-bdea-571a-8b1f-bd0f49df85b9.html

My Summer Interning at BGCM

This summer I was fortunate enough to do my Beyond the Classroom experience at the Boys and Girls Club located here in Missoula. My global theme is Inequality and Human Rights. Through interning, I was able to further develop my interest in my global theme and my future career. I plan to one day become a School Psychologist. This summer I was able to teach kids about important skills such as emotional regulation. This internship gave me an insight into the ways that children see the world and how it differs from adults and the need to treat kids like human beings and not inferior people. A human right is being able to receive an education whether it is about school subjects or mental health awareness. 

The Franke Global Leadership Initiative gave me the tools to be an effective leader and teacher to these kids. One of my favorite activities that I would lead this summer was our emotional wellness circle. This was a time when the kids were able to express their feelings in many creative and practical ways. By doing so, the kids were able to learn how to recognize emotions and elaborate on them. Sometimes they would do so by playing their favorite song and describing how it made them feel. Other times they would associate their feelings with the weather. In the course of two months, I was able to see a great improvement in their ability to name their emotions and find effective ways to deal with them. This taught me that is never too early to teach children to prioritize their mental health. I am glad I was able to help so many kids this summer by providing them with a safe space where they were able to learn and grow.

Aix Marks the Spot

For my beyond the classroom experience, I spent a semester studying at Aix-Marseille University in Aix-en-Provence, France. I was in the International Program of Business and Economics and was one of two American students in my program. Everyone in the program was eager to make new friends and learn about each other’s home countries and cultures. Due to our shared curiosity, I instantly felt a deep sense of comradery with my peers. I was the most comfortable I have ever been in a classroom. I felt like I could walk up to anyone in the classroom, even if we had never spoken before, and talk to them. My time in this program was particularly impactful for my leadership journey. These friendships taught me that powerful connections are formed when differences are celebrated, and values are shared.  For me, leadership is all about creating connections. I am eager to apply this lesson as I continue to learn and grow as a leader.

One of my goals and expectations for this past semester was to gain a greater understanding of my GLI Global Theme and Challenge of politics and culture. During my time in France, the French presidential election was underway. Towards the beginning of my time in France, I felt distant and had trouble connecting to many of the core issues of the election. As I considered how the election would affect my French and European peers as well as myself, I was able to develop a strong sense of empathy and closeness to the issues. Topics such as immigration and education were of particular interest to me. Talking with my French peers and other exchange students about their perspectives helped me to develop a deeper understanding of how French politics have a global impact. I am curious to see how the lessons I learned about politics and culture this semester will impact my view of American politics moving forward.

Toulouse, France
Florence, Italy

Ryan Holloway & Miller Internship

By: Alis Auch

My Beyond the Classroom project for Sumer 2022 was a law firm internship at Ryan Holloway & Miller. I was absolutely thrilled at the chance to immerse myself in the world of law, and really discover if this was the right path for me. By the end of July, I was sure that I wanted to continue to pursue a career as an attorney.

The global theme I chose was inequality and human rights. My entire life I have had a passion for justice and advocacy for the little guy. RHM is a criminal defense and personal injury firm, so my internship was spent defending those in need. Many people hear criminal defense and automatically think of scummy, money-hungry attorneys. But after working in this field, I’ve realized that there are two sides to every story, and not every criminal is a bad person. In fact, it’s so easy for good people to be put in tough situations and then left to struggle through impossible legal hoops. I loved learning alongside lawyers who valued their clients and wanted what was best for them in all kinds of circumstances. It is truly a privilege to be able to fight for the underdog.

A major part of my job as an intern was to help with marketing (since I am also a marketing major), and this included writing well-researched blogs for the firm. I learned SO much about the ins and outs of our system- the good, the bad, and the ugly. It amazes me that so much of our law isn’t automatically taught in school because it should be. I loved that I was able to inform our clients and others in Missoula about their rights, what to be careful of, and our law in general. If you’re interested, I’ve included a few of my blogs below.

What Constitutional Rights do I Waive When Pleading Guilty?

How to Correctly Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent

Think Before You Post!

The scariest part of my job was trying to get clients into various courts. There was so much pressure to get them before certain judges because there were actual lives at stake. It’s a big deal to have a compassionate and logical judge that also wants the best for your client. I had to really step up and do my absolute best to fight for our clients. It was both challenging and fulfilling to know that I was making a difference in someone’s life.

I am extremely grateful for the friendships I now have, the educational experiences, and the lifelong mentorship I will have from Ryan Holloway & Miller Law Firm. I am excited to continue down this path of law, and I look forward to the knowledge I will gain in the future. Here’s to an amazing senior year!

Greetings from Graz!

Grüß Gott! For the last 10 months I had the opportunity to live and study in Graz, Austria. While there I operated with an independence I never knew possible and learned more than I could have ever hoped. From having the chance to learn from my Bosnian, Austrian and Ukrainian roommates to professors from Jordan, Singapore and Germany I will be forever grateful for the knowledge and life experiences they passed on. 

The main university building

While much of my time centered around forming relationships, I was able to participate in several seminar classes. Many of my classes centered around the increasing rates of globalization and the needed response to the phenomenon. In these classes, I had the opportunity to meet and discuss potential upsides and downsides with individuals from around the globe as well as discuss the need for improved international communication. These discussions aided in my widening world view and allowed a platform for new perspectives. Another beneficial class I took was a German language course. Through this course I was instantly connected with other people who were new to the culture and environment which was helpful in forming connections.  

Both these classes and being able to immerse myself in Austrian culture helped me form a deeper understanding of my global theme of ‘culture and politics’. Prior to going to Austria, I had a peripheral understanding of their systems however, soon after moving there I was participating in the public healthcare system and local government which provided a point of comparison to the systems I have grown up with and was allowed to understand more of the cultural nuances.

            In addition to traveling around Austria, I was able to visit several other countries. One of which being Italy, where a friend and I took a pasta making class. It happened that the other 5 people who signed up for the class were exchange students from the US and we were able to engage in a conversation where we discussed the culture shocks – for better and for worse – that we had been navigating since moving to our respective host nations. 

My Friend and I in a pasta making class

            Overall, I had an incredible experience and am looking forward to going back to Austria to revisit some favorite places and continue to discover new ones! 

Tschüss! 

Aberystwyth, Wales

This summer, I studied abroad at Aberystwyth University in Aberystwyth, Wales.  The start of my experience was a bit rough as I had to isolate myself for the first few days waiting to take a mandatory entry test.  However, I tested negative and was quickly able to explore the town and attend classes in person.  Did you know Wales is one of the world’s top producers of computer chips?  I took a class on semiconductor technology while there (there is no class like this at UM) and it was doubly amazing because I learned at one of the hot spots of the subject!  I also was able to take a physics class on energy and the environment.  This class not only enhanced my experiences in my GLI theme of Natural Resources and Sustainability, but it was also applicable to my field (physics) which I greatly appreciated.  While academics took up plenty of my time, it was far from the only thing I did while abroad.

The town of Aberystwyth is incredibly beautiful.  It’s surrounded by mountains, and the valley in which the town sits goes right up to the sea.  You get a beautiful green mountain view over a lively sea town.  The town sits at the mouth of the Rheidol and Ystwyth rivers (which is actually where the town gets its name with aber being Welsh for mouth).  The river areas and mountain views are perfect places to hike to.  In fact the whole town is traversed by a series of trails, and the town’s size makes it easily walkable.  I enjoyed walking and enjoying the town, always trying to take a different route and discover more each journey.  Of course, the university sat uphill from the town which always made it a drudge to get back to my flat, but it was worth it.  Downtown features plenty of seaside shops and local restaurants.  Following the beach front you can easily find the ruins of Aberystwyth castle, surrounded by the town.  And because of the town’s west-facing nature, every night brought a beautiful sunset right over the bay.  Aberystwyth is such a beautiful town that I’ll miss exploring

I didn’t only explore the town, however.  Our Easter break was 3 weeks long which gave me ample time to explore the entire United Kingdom.  It was so easy to travel too.  Aberystwyth is the terminus of a train line which connects directly to Birmingham (and conveniently Birmingham’s Airport as well).  From Birmingham, I could get anywhere I wanted to by simply hopping on the train (for really cheap too!)  I stayed in Birmingham and was able to explore the lovely canals that traversed the area.  Afterwards, I stayed in London for a long weekend, stopping by museums and of course seeing some of the more popular tourist spots.  After London, I took the train up to Edinburgh (probably my favorite stop in my UK tour) and got to walk the high mile and see the incredible architecture in the Old City.  I went back to Aberystwyth for Easter weekend, and then traveled to Liverpool for the day.  There was way more to do in Liverpool than I expected, but I couldn’t stay too long because the next day I took a ferry to Belfast.  I spent the night and the next day in Belfast before taking the overnight ferry back to Liverpool (I don’t recommend the overnight unless you can get a place to sleep on the ferry.  Which I wasn’t able to do) and continuing back to Aberystwyth to wrap up the semester.

After finals week(s) it was time for me to go back to the United States.  I was able to learn so much academically.  I delved into the semiconductor field which I wouldn’t have been able to easily do here at UM.  I also got to learn hydrodynamics which I again couldn’t take here at UM.  Furthermore, I learned about energy and the environment from a British perspective and saw how it differed from the general perspectives here.  Besides academics, I also got to experience both British culture and Welsh culture.  The Welsh language continues to heighten in popularity in the country, and it was really interesting to be able to see the language present everywhere throughout my studies.  Cars were also much smaller and far less prominent in the UK than here in the US, although drivers were a lot meaner than here in Missoula.  People’s lower reliance on cars is something we could use here in America sometimes (although that’s easier said than done).  I think the biggest thing I’ll miss from the UK though is the amazing train system.  It makes me wish even more that we had a convenient, relatively cheap train option to move from city to city.  Traveling on a whim and just being able to hop on a train and go was an experience I’ll never forget.

My time with MOSSAIC

Hello! My Name is Kayla, and I spent the Spring 2022 semester interning for a program here on campus called MOSSAIC. MOSSAIC stands for Mentoring, Organization, and Social Support for Autism/All Inclusion on Campus. My GLI theme is Global and Public health witch blends well with my major in Speech language Pathology. Within my major we learn a lot about how to treat and assess those with autism, so it was important for me to learn about autism in a hands-on experience. There were 9 other mentors in the program and about 12 mentees. The program was created by Dr. Jennifer Closson who created the program for individuals who just needed a place to relax and socialize freely without the judgment of the outside world.

MOSSAIC focuses on supporting those who have autism and those who are neuro diverse on campus. We provided a safe and inclusive space for students to come and relax every Tuesday night during the spring semester. Some of the activities that we planned for the students were things such as craft night, national grilled cheese day, and trivia night. On top of meeting with the group every Tuesday night I was also a peer mentor to a mentee who needed extra support. This included giving them social support, giving them mental health support, helping them with homework, and helping them get things they needed to live day to day.

The MOSSAIC program was also paired with a discussion-based class where the other mentors and I would meet once a week to talk about autism and neurodiversity. For the first half of the semester, we would talk about how it affects the students who have it on campus. The second half of the semester I planned and lead a project on campus that aimed to make spaces on campus more inclusive. My experience leading this project was great for developing my communication skills as that was something that I wanted to strengthen during this out of the classroom experience. During this project I networked with many spaces on campus including the library, the office for student success, and the Branch center. To provide the spaces with what they needed I went around to each space to see the lights and how big each room was. Lights were important because the lights on campus are so bright, and we wanted to provide spaces for neurodiverse students who are light sensitive. At the end of the project, we were able to provide a couple spaces with kits that we created which included light covers, chairs that wiggle, earplugs, and fidgets for all sensory needs. On top of the kits were also able to make QR codes that people could scan to listen to and audio recording about each item in the kit. Providing these items to students who are neurodiverse means that they can go to places on campus that meet their needs, so they have an equal chance of succeeding at school.

My experience with this program has strengthened my skills in leadership. I was able to lead a project that made our campus more inclusive, and I was able to provide support to students that genuinely really needed it. I was able to make connections to our mentees that they had never had before because the system for them is so difficult.

After this experience I have continued to work with MOSSAIC, and I am in an even bigger leadership role now as we are aiming to provide even more kits to spaces on campus. I will also be working with my professor on getting grants to be able to fund the next project that we will be doing.

I am so grateful for this internship and the leadership skills it has taught me.

I was also unable to take any pictures to protect the participants identity.