Tag Archives: campus life

Winona State international student talks personal experiences

The stress and fear associated with the choice of college is something that plagues almost every student.

Joel Odoom’s decision was more nerve-wracking than most as an international student in Minnesota.

Odoom was born in Ghana, Africa, and moved to Qatar in 2010 where his family still lives.

He had to adapt to a new environment and a new language, English, which he uses as his dominant language.

Leaving Ghana, his home country, proved difficult as his move would be permanent.

“Moving to Qatar was a real shocker for me,” Odoom said. “Leaving a place where I was comfortable with people with the same cultural background to going to a foreign place for me was very hard.”

A candid picture of Joel Odoom outside of Lourdes Hall at Winona State University West Campus.

Stepping outside of his comfort zone tested Odoom. He said it helped him experience life in a new way.

“It was a new opportunity and it helped me very, very much,” Odoom said.

Past obstacles moving to a “foreign” place early in life served as a factor in his decision to come to the US for college.

“I thought to myself, where’s the best place I would feel comfortable with?” Odoom said. “I thought the U.S. It seemed like the land of opportunities.”

He highlighted a few opportunities such as experiencing what the US will be like outside of what he sees in movies and television.

Why Minnesota?

Odoom said he wanted to stay near his aunt and uncle and his extended family who live in the twin cities and have a safety net if things don’t turn out the way he envisions them.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I didn’t have family in Minnesota. My parents didn’t want me to struggle.” Odoom said.

Why Winona State University?

Odoom said that he wanted to find a college that was affordable, dense with diversity and international students to make him feel more accepted and supported in the path he wanted to take in school.

Odoom analyzing a book that’s located at the Darrel Krueger Library at Winona State University.

Odoom said he didn’t want to feel like an outcast.

He wanted to become his own person, branch out and discover new things.

“I told myself, let me find the friends who I truly believe are my friends. It doesn’t matter if they’re from the same country as me or if they’re international or not.” Odoom said. “I’ll just do whatever to make myself feel comfortable.”

After being at Winona State for two years, Odoom’s perspective and expectations changed for the better.

He explained that he gets along with everyone.

People don’t see him as an international student, and he doesn’t feel as if he is confined to a clique.

“I feel as if I am an anomaly,” Odoom said.

Odoom hinted at the reason may be because he doesn’t have a “stereotypical” accent that other international students have.

“I feel as if they would treat me differently if that was the case.”

Winona State parking causes frustrations for some

Winona State University has seen a limit on the amount of parking permits given to students along with limited space to park which for some leads to frustration. 

Winona State Parking Services have a cap on the number of parking permits they sell for residential and commuter parking lots. 

For residential lots, with silver, green, tan and maroon parking permits, the cap is the same as the number of spots the university has in those lots. 

All Winona State parking permits have to be hung on the rearview mirror of vehicles at all times while in a Winona State parking lot. Failure to have the permit hanging could result in a parking violation.

For the silver, green and maroon lots, the annual price of a parking permit is $155. The tan lot parking permits are $85 because there are conferences often at the Tau Center which is where the tan parking lot is. 

For commuter lots, the gold and purple parking permits, the cap is a little more than the number of spaces in those lots. 

Alisha Syrmopoulos, Winona State’s Parking Services office manager said they do that because people do not stay in the lot for long periods of time. 

Gold parking permits are $225 per calendar year. Purple parking permits are $105 per academic year. 

Sustainability parking permits are available for students who live in the sustainability house for $155 and Circle or Grey parking permits are offered for motorcycles and mopeds for $35. 

Winona State Parking Services also offers a blue parking permit for those with a state-issued handicap permit for $105. 

Faculty, staff and students have the ability to purchase handicap parking spaces provided they have a state issued handicap permit. The Winona State handicap permits are $105 per academic year.

Winona State meets ADA regulations when it comes to handicap spaces but Syrmopoulos said she receives complaints that the amount of spots is not enough. 

Syrmopoulos said she gets complaints about not having enough handicap spaces. 

With a handicap parking permit, the permit holder is able to park in any open spot on campus. Syrmopoulos said even if someone cannot find a handicap spot Parking Services stills wants to get them as close as possible. 

Syrmopoulos said they do the best with what they have. 

“We are kind of landlocked. You kind of got to work with what you have and use the space,” Syrmopoulos said. 

This is why not everyone who applies for a parking permit will get one. 

Syrmopoulos said there is a stack of applications from faculty, staff and students who want a parking permit for this school year.  

The process Parking Services use to decide who gets a parking permit is first-come-first-served. 

Syrmopoulos said there have been professors who go into the Parking Services Office and tell the student workers they should have priority to get a parking permit. 

“I have had faculty sit here and yell at my students and tell my students that they should have priority to these parking permits because if it wasn’t for them the university wouldn’t even be running,” Syrmopoulos said. 

She said her response to these professors has been that if there were no students there would be no need for faculty. 

“It’s a co-op effort,” Syrmopoulos said. 

First-year Winona State student, Kalli O’Brien said she believes the process of getting a parking permit is fair. 

She does not agree with the cap on residential parking. 

“I live in Sheehan and I’d say I have parked in that parking lot in front of Sheehan less than 10 times for sure,” O’Brien said. “It is so frustrating because I do morning shifts and walking far away in the morning when it’s freezing out sucks.” 

At the beginning of the semester, O’Brien was almost going to give up her parking permit because she did not believe it was worth the money. 

After talking to her parents O’Brien decided to keep the parking permit because she knew in the winter she would be happy to have it. 

Another aspect of the parking permit that frustrates O’Brien is when students in residential parking spots have a permit but never move their car. 

“I live on one of the top floors and my roommate and I look down and we can see the cars that have been there for weeks,” O’Brien said. “Why do you even have a car if you’re not using it?” 

O’Brien said she believes students who use their cars on a regular basis should be the ones with the parking spot right outside the building. 

O’Brien said she would not recommend getting a parking permit to anyone because it is not worth the amount of money. 

“Alternate side parking it’s kind of a hassle but it’s more of a hassle doing [a parking permit] and wasting your money,” O’Brien said.

New painting installed in Baldwin Lounge

A new painting by a Winona State University faculty member was put on display in a campus building on Friday, April 22.  

ChunLok Mah, chair of the Winona State art department, showed off his painting entitled “Storm: Before and After” in Baldwin Lounge of Winona State’s Kryzsko Commons student union building.  

Mah said his piece walks the viewer through the emotions of a storm starting at the left and going to the right.  

In his artist statement, Mah wrote about what the piece means to him.  

“The emotions were a collision of past and present experiences that reminded me of all the harsh, bitter and difficult events that I fought for years that often resulted in bittersweet endings,” Mah said. “It was like having an epiphany of life condensed in one moment.” 

The painting is about 17 feet wide.  

Joe Reed, Winona State’s student union/activities director, bought the painting from Mah after President Scott Olson told him about the piece.  

The total cost of the painting and instillation was $4,800. 

Guests at the reception listen as Mah speaks about his piece. He described the brush work as “tough raw brush strokes” to give a feeling of anxiety.

“Storm: Before and After” was on display at an exhibit when Reed first saw it. Reed said the display of the painting did not do it justice.  

Reed wanted to find a good place in Kryzco Commons for the painting.  

“We are walking around Kryzco and all of a sudden it hit me…Baldwin,” Reed said. “Since the renovation to the bookstore and this edition it was always a dark room and now we got all these windows.”  

Mah said there were some difficulties during the installation process. 

“The chosen design proceeds to post many challenges like lack of proper lighting, wall dimension, weak drywall, and thermostat outlet position, during the installation,” Mah said. “We made some major tweaks so the artwork fits seamlessly to the setting.” 

At the reception, Mah said he hoped students would see the painting and talk about what it means to them.  

Mah said he used raw brush strokes to evoke anxiety from the viewer.  

At the conclusion of Mah’s speech he asked those in attendance to talk about the feeling the painting evoked 

Guests at the reception in Baldwin hall admire “Storm: Before and After. One of the guests pictured said for her the painting show optimism because if in the darkest part there is still light.

Hedi Ryan, Winona State art and design office assistant, talked about the feelings the painting evoked.  

Ryan said she saw the painting as a metaphor for how to approach life. She said because there is still light in the darkest photo, which for Ryan shows optimism through good and bad times.  

Baldwin Lounge, where the reception was held, is a quit study place for students.  

Reed said he took the purpose of the space into consideration when he was planning the reception.  

Reed said to him as with students he views Baldwin Lounge as a place for studying.  

“Because to me, as is the students, Baldwin is kinda like a sacred ground for study time,” Reed said. “It’s appropriate we have the reception there and Friday would be a good day because it’s the least used.” 

When Reed arrived at the reception, he walked up to students studying at the tables and explained what was going on and apologized for the inconvenience 

He also told studying students to help themselves to refreshments.  

Mah is honored to have a piece in the Kryzco collection.  

“Joe’s proposal and the location choice was a dream come true to me,” Mah said. “It turns out to be better than I thought.” 

For more information about ChunLok Mah or to see more of his art visit:

https://www.winona.edu/art/faculty.html

http://chunlokmah.com/

RunnerUp – The Improving Improvisers

For the local improv group on Winona State campus, being a member is a part of an exclusive club.

There are nine improvisers on the RunnerUp comedy troupe, a student manager, and a tech assistant, bringing the total to 11 members.

The Tuesday before Winona State’s spring break, 15 students showed up to try their luck in the troupe’s annual auditions.

“It’s more than we’ve ever gotten, RunnerUp facilitator and WSU junior Keagan Anderson said. “The largest audition that I’ve seen here is six.”

RunnerUp formed back in 2008 with a handful of members. They primarily do shows on Winona State campus, but have recently started to increase their reach.

Show locations around Winona include Blooming Grounds coffeehouse, Ed’s No-Name Bar, Bub’s, and the Minnesota Marine Art Museum. Additionally, the troupe has collaborated with La Crosse’s troupe, The Backwards Thinking Society, and plans to do a show with WSU’s A cappella group Hear and Now in April.

On a national scale, RunnerUp is growing too. For the first time in three years, RunnerUp competed in the Chicago Improvisational Tournment (CIT). Regionals were held in December at the Minneapolis HUGE Theater.

RunnerUp won the first round with their trademark sketch, called a “Mockumentary.” Members compare the sketch to the show “The Office,” where characters can have an aside to address the audience.

The group finished third in the Midwest at CIT, their best finish at a national tournament.

“I think the name we make for ourselves through our shows really ended up speaking for us,” Anderson said.

Telshaw-Improv-3
Megan Hayes (left) offers drinks to Brad Krieger (center) and Keagan Anderson during practice

While the number of students who turned up for auditions was surprising to the group, it’s evident RunnerUp’s plan is working.

“This year’s turnout really speaks to how much we got the word out, but also how much people appreciate our club and want to be a part of it,” Anderson said. “We’ve definitely been more present on social media. Beyond that, we were very good about publicizing events, and a lot more word of mouth than we have in the past.”

Anderson said going into auditions, RunnerUp was expected to bring on three new members. With the overwhelming amount of talent to choose from this year, they doubled the total to six. Over half of the 15 students who auditioned were freshmen.

Emma Tomb, a sophomore, was eager to compete for a spot in the group.

“All through high school I was on a [sic] improv troupe, and it was quite a community,” Tomb said. “Through seeing what [RunnerUp] has created, it seems like they have a nice little community here, and it seems like something that I’d want to be a part of.”

Freshman Will Diedrich said the group could also help build real world skills.

“I want to be in RunnerUp because I want to learn to do improv,” Diedrich said. “Improv has a lot of real world use. It pretty much applies to anything you want to do, and it uses a lot of communication skills, which I could work on as a person.”

Tomb and Diedrich were part of the six people notified they had made the troupe, shortly before Winona State’s spring break last week.

“I think it was overwhelming,” Diedrich said of the audition process. “I didn’t expect that many people to be there. But it worked out well in the end.”

Now, the new members will practice every Tuesday and Thursday from 8-10 P.M. in Winona State’s Performing Arts Center − preparing for upcoming shows and learning new improve skills.

“The first practice was alright, the big thing was that you have to perform with everyone else now that’s in RunnerUp,” Diedrich said. “It was a little difficult to step up to their level. They’re all really encouraging and everything, but it’s still a little bit nervous when you’re dealing with all the people that are experts in the field.”

Keagan Anderson (right) performs with Elladee Zak on Thursday, March 17th.
Keagan Anderson (right) performs with Elladee Zak on Thursday, March 17th.

Anderson said that the new members will be put to work right away.

“We’re really looking to push them,” he said. “During the audition process you only see two or three different sides of a person, and maybe we see a lot of potential, but you want to push them and open up that potential and show us what they got.”

Even with a new mass of members, the group dynamic is still the same.

“We’re definitely a group that fits together,” Anderson concluded.

Runner Up’s next show is currently scheduled for April 30th, in Winona State’s Student Activity Center. The cost is free. For more event updates, follow RunnerUp on their Facebook page.

To view clips of RunnerUp’s shows − including their winning CIT performance − visit their YouTube page.