Education is fundamental to the of development one’s life. Kay Hannahan knows this well.
Hannahan is a first-year professor in the Mass Communication department at Winona State University.
She got into teaching after graduating college at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
After graduating, she returned home to Minnesota where she later joined AmeriCorps in their welfare to work program. In this program she taught immigrants “how to write a resume and how to interview.”
She enjoyed volunteering and said made connections and taught people valuable life skills.
Hannahan then joined the Peace Corps where Hannahan “taught English in a really small village school.”
One of her memorable moments while in Peace Corps in Bulgaria, was when she was walking down the street with fellow Peace Corp members when some of her students stopped to say hello to them in English in what sounded like a Minnesota accent.
From there, Hannahan went to graduate school at Temple University in Philadelphia where she taught as an assistant in the film program.
After spending time on the east coast and outside the United States, she returned to Minnesota in 2019 to look for teaching jobs.
Then in March of 2020 a day before the declaration of the pandemic she gave birth to her son Duke.
Not only was Hannahan juggling finding a job she said, “I always joke that there’s no postpartum book that tells you how to be a mother during a pandemic.”
Shortly after her baby was born, she was officially hired on to be a part of WSU’s Mass Communication department in June 2020.
She had to deal with the pandemic and being a new mother, Hannahan choose to have an online delivery mode for her WSU classes this year.
At first, she felt online teaching was going to be inferior to teaching in person.
She said she found it could be helpful in some ways.
Natalie Tyler, a fourth-year student at WSU and current student of Hannahan.
Said her experience in Hannahan’s online course was positive, “I love that she actually goes through all of the assignments more in detail and she shows you know what students are supposed to do and how to actually edit each project,” Tyler said.
Hannahan said she liked Zoom’s capabilities because “when you’re teaching editing software, you have the ability to record to lecture.”
Alek LaShomb, a fourth-year student at WSU has had two classes with Hannahan said that the recorded lectures were helpful because he ran into an issue with Adobe Premier Software and the recorded lecture helped him figure it out.
LaShomb said, “If we’re in person, that’s something I’d have to wait until the next class session, or I’d have to email her about”
Hannahan said camera equipment tutorials would work better in person than Zoom.
So in the future she intends to have them in-person.
Next year, she looks forward to the introduction of her new course the Living History Project which will be a collaboration with WSU’s Retiree Center.
Hannahan said, “I’m excited to explore more of Winona and to see my students more often face-to-face.”
LaShomb spoke on what Hannahan adds to the Mass Communications faculty. “I think she’ll be a good face for that new guard that’s gonna be coming through the Mass Comm department” LaShomb said.
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.
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.
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.
In small towns, the nutrition supplement market is often dominated by one or two big chain stores.
The only place Winona citizens can buy pre-workout supplements is GNC or Walmart and the options are limited to what those chains wish to sell.
Winona State student Michael Bennett said he was dissatisfied with the lack of healthy options and decided to create his own supplement company.
Raw Dog Supplements LLC was created because Bennett said he was tired of paying a large mark-up for products containing artificial ingredients.
“Basically in here you got nine ingredients. All 100% pure,” Bennett said while holding a container of his pre-workout. “No additives, no fillers, no proprietary blends, no colors, no artificial flavors. Everything about it is natural.”
Bennett said many companies throw a wide range of ingredients in their products consumers don’t know about.
These ingredients are hidden behind names such as “proprietary blend.”
Bennett is concerned someone new to the gym will consume these products without knowing what it contains
“I just wasn’t having what other companies were throwing in their products,” Bennett said.
“There’s a better way to achieve those results than what other companies are providing. I think I’ve got down the most effective way”
Bennett’s personal trainer and long-time friend Sam Ziemke has been making pre-workout concoctions for years and said he’s happy to see Bennett make a business out of it.
Ziemke said he believes much of the supplement industry is detrimental to the health of consumers.
He said many of those artificial stimulants added to these products can hurt the adrenal glands, kidneys and heart.
“These bigger supplement companies like C-4 will spend most of their money on promoting the product with celebrities who don’t even take the stuff,” Ziemke said. “They could be putting that money into adding more and better ingredients into their product.”
On top of the health concerns, Ziemke criticized the mark-up pricing of popular supplements.
He said one scoop of C-4 is like paying $3 for one serving of pre-workout while Raw Dog is priced at $1 per serving.
Keith Jones, an employee at GNC in Winona, said while they don’t carry a lot of pre-workout supplements without additives or stimulants, there are options within the store.
“We do have one or two that I know of that are not only stimulant free – they have a lot less additives,” Jones said. “We don’t have a lot of those in store, though, which is unfortunate. We need to branch out a little bit.”
While there isn’t a lot of pure pre-workout options, Jones said they carry a line of vegan protein, organic green juice complexes and other supplements regarding holistic health.
Jones said he takes pride in educating customers about exactly what Is in products before he recommends anything for them to buy.
After, he said it’s up to the customer.
“The best I can do is tell them what we have in the store,” Jones said. “If they don’t like it or can’t accept it then I’m sure they’ll find what they want online.”
Bennett said this is why he believes Raw Dog is important – a clean product is available in Winona for local pickup or delivery.
Although Bennett is registered as a Limited Liability Company and said he would love to make money from his company, he is doing this because it’s a passion and he wants to be able to offer something he believes in to others.
“I’m not about trying to make a ton of money off of it,” Bennett said. “I’m trying to give the people what they want. I’m hearing a lot of feedback and I’m loving it.”
Bennett said he has invested between $5,500 and $6,000 total.
This includes the industrial mixer, the raw products, containers, silica packets, container seals, tee-shirts, LLC registration, scoops, labels, stickers and a website.
Bennett said after a few months he has made around $3,000.
“That is much better than I ever expected,” Bennett said. “I have all these supplements that don’t go bad for three years now and I’m already about half way to making my money back.”
Bennett said he would be fine not making all his money back.
What he has gained through experience and knowledge is more valuable to him than money.
This same mentality is why Bennett isn’t concerned with expanding past Winona.
For the time being, he said he wants to continue doing what he loves and master the market in Winona.
“When I’m not at one of my three jobs, this is what I’m doing,” Bennett said. “This is my heart and soul. As corny as it sounds, this is what I enjoy doing.”
As Winona State University’s spring commencement nears, graduating students are faced with the reality that they will be on their own. This thought is scary for most graduates, and for those who have traveled from other countries to pursue their degree as Warriors, it can be even scarier as they leave their four-year home.
According to WSU’s Director of International Services and Cultural Outreach Kemale Pinar, 300 international students attend Winona State representing 45 countries. Of these students, 39 are graduating this semester. Insight into four of these students’ backgrounds, Winona State involvement and post graduation plans, illustrates the process international students might endure as they remain thousands of miles from home following their time at college.
Busy streets, hectic sidewalks and tall buildings was not the big city vibe Takiul Alam was looking for when exploring college options outside of his home country of Bangladesh. After living in the capital of Dhaka with a population of more than 18 million, he wanted the opposite.
According to Alam, he found what he was looking for in the city of Winona – beautiful surroundings, a much smaller population and snow.
Still, none of these features were a true selling point for Alam. For him, it was about the scholarships.
Although he was leaning towards attending college in the U.K., Alam made the decision to attend Winona State after receiving scholarships that covered 75 percent of his tuition. Now, after three and a half years of study, he will graduate with a degree in computer science.
Alam claimed he never felt homesick after leaving Dhaka, and the biggest thing he had to adjust to was the difference in food.
“The food is pretty bland,” Alam said. “Back home, we use a lot of spices to cook, so that was the biggest obstacle.”
For his first two years at Winona State, Alam served as president of the International Club. This gave him the opportunity to share his culture’s food in the annual International Dinner as well as enjoy dishes from other countries.
Alam’s lack of homesickness will benefit him after graduation, as he has no intention of leaving the U.S.
In March 2016, Alam enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves. He said his basic training date keeps getting postponed, but he hopes to begin training by the end of this year.
Money once again played a large factor in one of Alam’s life decisions, as he enlisted to receive money towards tuition as well as citizenship after passing basic training.
Since his enlistment, Alam said he is unsure what will come next for him after he graduates, but he does know he would like to live in Minnesota.
“My plans are up in the air until I know when I go to basic training,” Alam explained.
With his mom and two sisters supporting his decisions from back home, Alam said he will continue to enjoy the Minnesota snow and wait for the next phase of his life to unfold.
A software developer position at Pearson VUE in Bloomington, Minnesota awaits Rachel OuYong after graduation. Instead of feeling first-day jitters when she arrives, OuYong will see familiar faces when walking into the corporate headquarters.
OuYong is a WSU computer science major and math minor from Hong Kong. She said she came to Winona State after she traveled to Minneapolis to visit her aunt, who is a WSU alumna. After then journeying to Winona and receiving a tour of campus, OuYong said she wanted to attend.
“The town is very different from where I grew up,” OuYong said. “As a city, Hong Kong is like New York. I wanted a big change and decided Winona was a good place to be.”
Throughout her four years at Winona State, OuYong has been involved on campus through the International Club, as a worker at WSU’s Tech Support Center and as a student researcher for the Computer Science Department.
During her junior year, OuYong attended a job fair in the Twin Cities through Career Services. This visit resulted in a summer internship for OuYong at Pearson VUE, and six months after her time in Bloomington she was offered a full-time position beginning after graduation.
While landing an internship and accepting a job offer is high on OuYong’s list of greatest accomplishments, she said attending the Grace Hopper Celebration twice ranks first.
“That conference is the world’s largest for women in computing,” OuYong said. “That was probably the highlight of my four years of college.”
OuYong’s undergraduate research with her advisor led her to present the project “Predicting Lung Cancer Outcomes” at the conference. This project carries over into her senior capstone, as she focuses on Data Storage Of Lung Cancer Treatment Outcomes Predicting Tool in collaboration with Mayo Clinic. Her research poster is on display in Watkins Hall on Winona State’s campus.
Wasil Chisti’s journey to Winona State includes a series of missed deadlines.
Chisti said his father encouraged him to leave home in Dhaka, Bangladesh to “get a better education from a better country.” He looked to attend school in Canada, where a few of his family members and friends live. After missing the application deadline by a few days, he said his mother suggested he “try the country next door.”
In 2012, Chisti attended a college in Missouri to study engineering and two years later decided to transfer to Mankato State University.
“I just couldn’t see myself graduating from there,” Chisti said.
He had plans to apply to Mankato State, but missed the deadline. Chisti changed his major to business administration and attended Rochester Community and Technical College for one year before transferring to Winona State and changing his major to human resources. He said he changed his major after realizing how much he had worked in customer relations since the start of high school.
At RCTC, Chisti said he took a class because he thought it was transferrable to Winona State, but he learned too late this was not the case. This forced him to stay another year at Winona State to earn his degree.
“It worked out,” Chisti said. “Whatever happened, it happened for the best.”
At Winona State he was hired for a paid internship with the College of Business startup, which he also receives credit for. Chisti has served as human resource manager for the group since last October, which involves recruiting, screening and interviewing students on campus for jobs.
Chisti said after graduating he looks to secure a job, and it does not have to be “the most attractive.”
“I can go into a job five days a week and not be the happiest person there,” Chisti said. “But the paycheck can make me happy.”
Christian Kolby from Oslo, Norway said he would have never considered himself a leader three years ago.
“Today, I am the most respected College of Business leaders,” Kolby said.
He said Winona State’s College of Business offers a lot of opportunities for students to expand their skills, which is what he did and will continue to do.
Kolby, an economic and political science major and global studies minor, said he served as a “normal” college student his first two years at Winona State, as he earned good grades but was not involved on campus. His junior year he joined the Economics Club and was pitched as VP of finance, allowing him to work alongside administrators for the College of Business and gain experience.
“The dean will ask me if he needs people, so that’s rewarding,” Kolby said.
After a liking for the Minnesota Vikings led Kolby to search for Midwest colleges that fit his budget, he considered Winona State as an option.
He said, “I applied, got accepted and never really looked back, and it worked out.”
Kolby explained how a scholarship program for international students allowed him to pay in-state tuition, saving him thousands of dollars per semester. He said this, combined with Winona’s small-town feel, moved him to choose Winona State over other colleges that accepted him, such as the University of Minnesota.
Using his club involvement with the College of Business to build his resumé, Kolby is interviewing with companies including WinCraft and Fastenal, as the semester concludes. His ultimate goal is to permanently live in the U.S., staying in Minnesota for now.
“If opportunities arise elsewhere, I’ll pack up my bag and go,” Kolby said. “But, Winona will always be my second home.”
Eager students, colorful posters and free treats are at the forefront of every Winona State University club fair. These attractions, along with inviting games and cute animals, often lure students to tables — a tactic clubs use every year.
At a club fair, group members are present and strive to attract new recruits for two reasons: it is mandatory and necessary to avoid termination.
Winona State lists specific requirements for creating and maintaining official club or organization status. This includes having at least 10 student members, an updated roster and constitution, and participation in the fall club fair.
Joe Reed, Winona State’s Student Union director said the first and most important step in creating a club is the Student Senate approved constitution, which is often resubmitted if changes need to be made. This constitution must include at least one purpose of the club and membership, meeting and funding requirements.
“The key element is to have the constitution approved by Student Senate,” Reed said. “If you are recognized by Student Senate, you’re a club. This is usually the first step when creating the club.”
Reed has been working with student clubs and organizations at Winona State since 1989. During his time at the university, the number of clubs has increased from 85 to 222. Reed said growing numbers could be attributed to interest in more athletic and academic based clubs.
Both Reed and Tracy Rahim, associate director of Student Activities & Leadership, work closely with clubs and organizations. At the beginning of the academic year, they have to educate new club leaders.
“We have a lot of the same issues every year because we have to reinvent the wheel. You have new officers and there is a lot to learn. It keeps evolving and we are here to keep it going,” Reed said. “Tracy keeps everyone in check.”
With 222 clubs in Winona State’s directory, the Alliance of Student Organizations oversees all these organizations and removes inactive clubs from the list. According to ASO Director Megan Grochowski, nearly 30 clubs have been removed from the directory since she assumed her student position in fall 2016. She said she receives two or three requests a week for the creation of new clubs.
Reed said the best way to maintain a club after its creation is to continue recruiting members, which is why club fairs are hosted several times a year.
When Darrell Krueger began his presidency at Winona State University in 1989, he had big plans for the campus – plans that earned him the title of “absolutely crazy.”
The vice president of university advancement at the time, Gary Evans, said he and Krueger would often walk around campus, speaking to people and looking at the grounds. During the early 1990s, the streets bordering the university ran through the campus.
“I remember he and I were making that walk one day when he stopped and said to me, ‘We need to close all these streets,’” Evans said. “I remember saying specifically to Darrell, ‘You’re absolutely crazy… the city of Winona will never allow that to happen.’”
Krueger said he simply saw the need for the campus to match its surroundings.
“The river and bluffs are so beautiful, yet the campus had streets all the way through it,” he said.
Evans said once Krueger developed what campus would look like without streets, resources were needed to make it happen. After people began to support Krueger’s vision, Winona State went to the state university board for an allocation, and it was approved.
Since then, campus beautification at Winona State has been of high importance to faculty, staff and students.
While Krueger took the initiative to change the campus, he said when the first street was transformed into a wide sidewalk, “People started to see other possibilities.”
Over the next few years, donations were received from alumni, community members, faculty and staff to further beautify the campus. Krueger said some of the most well-known and enjoyed elements on campus were donations: the benches, gardens near the Performing Arts Center and Gildemeister Hall, Lauren’s Pond, gazebo and many trees.
After Krueger retired as Winona State’s president in 2005, Evans, who left Winona State in 1998, said the campus fell into “pretty serious neglect.” Eight years later, Evans returned for a three-year stint as interim vice president and heard the current president, Scott Olson, discuss the beauty of the campus in a university meeting.
“It was no question – the campus was, and is, beautiful,” Evans said. “The fact also remained that it was a pale resemblance of its former self.”
Olson made sure a budget was available for the maintenance department to transform the campus back into its previous state and maintain its beauty.
Evans explained upholding the image of Winona State to future Warriors as an “extremely important component” to future enrollment.
“It’s been proven over and over again that prospective students that come to look at Winona State are stunned by the beauty of campus,” Evans said. “That, combined with the beauty of the community, is responsible for recruiting a great deal of students to the university.”
As Olson began to place emphasis on the appearance of the campus, Jim Reynolds, a now-retired Winona State sociology professor, was placed as co-chair of the WSU Landscape Arboretum Committee.
According to Reynolds, the Arboretum is concerned with campus beautification as well as developing the campus to be representative of the diverse southeastern Minnesota biome.
The Arboretum’s goal is to promote this unique landscape on Winona State grounds, create opportunities for the campus to be used as a living classroom and laboratory, continue to develop the native species on campus and model ethical use of land and practices.
Reynolds said a big accomplishment for the committee was appointing an Arboretum director and landscape architect, Lisa Pearson, who has a “wealth of experience.”
At the start of January 2017, Reynolds passed his committee chair position to Pearson and Allison Quam, a Winona State faculty member. These women now manage a staff that includes a senior groundskeeper and horticulturist, turf and irrigation specialist, certified arborist, and student landscape workers.
Evans recalled a Winona State maintenance employee (Bill Meyer, a now-retired groundskeeper) telling Krueger, shortly after the street transformation, that he thought Winona State was close to having every tree native to Minnesota on the campus grounds. This thought turned into another campus goal for Winona State.
As the number of native trees grew over the years, a complete tree inventory has recently been done of the campus. The inventory reveals there are more than 1,500 trees on Winona State’s campus comprised of 143 species. Reynolds said it is important to maintain diversity in the university’s tree stock.
“We don’t want to develop a monoculture of one type of tree,” he said. “That’s not healthy.”
Two years ago, a rapid restoration of the entire university landscape was conducted. Reynolds said the majority of the funding for these significant expenditures came from a settlement with the DuPont Corporation.
Prior to the restoration, Winona State had used lawn fertilizer from DuPont that was mistakenly toxic to trees. Reynolds said Winona State lost around 100 trees due to the use of this fertilizer, and Winona State received a sizable settlement from the corporation in the nationwide lawsuit. The Arboretum used the settlement for the restoration, which involved hiring a Rochester firm to assess and prune the trees across campus.
Reynolds said the rapid restoration was “such a mammoth undertaking that our staff just wouldn’t have had the time to do. It involved a couple dozen people from firm devoting an intensive amount of time.”
The time and effort the university’s Landscape Arboretum has put into planting and maintaining the trees on campus, combined with involvement in Arbor Day activities, earned Winona State recognition as a Tree Campus USA the past three years.
In an effort to educate the public and its students about the trees on campus, the Arboretum sponsors tree tours in the summer and fall months. Many of the trees on university grounds display a label with its respective popular name, scientific name and a QR code to scan and give smartphone users more information and photos about the species of tree.
While strides have been made in beautifying Winona State’s campus, Reynolds explained the Arboretum is a long-term project that will continually evolve. This includes using an organic approach to maintaining the university’s landscape, transitioning away from commercial flowers to more native plants of southeastern Minnesota and developing a river landscape feature in the central part of the main campus.
Reynolds said these changes would enhance students’ learning in the landscape as an outdoor classroom and appeal to the public.
“We want to see Winona State’s campus become a destination point for travelers passing through the area,” Reynolds said.
Today, as tourists, community members, students, staff and faculty walk the sidewalks on campus to admire the bio-diversity and beauty, Evans emphasized the importance of Krueger’s definitive words during their stroll on campus in 1989.
Evans said there is no question that removing the roads was “the first critical step in beautifying the campus.”
While Krueger may have started the campus beautification initiative, he said it has taken “a whole community to make the Winona State campus as beautiful as it is now.”
Krueger said, “I’m very thankful to have been able to serve and have the support we had during those times from the city, state, faculty and staff, and the students. The students led a lot of these changes.”
Reynolds said the Landscape Arboretum Committee would like to see more student-engagement regarding projects related to their academic programs. He suggested there needs to be a new culture and attitude on campus about maintaining the landscape.
He said, “Everyone has to pitch in on this. Not just the landscape staff, but students, faculty and staff as well.”
With a tight budget and recent cuts, Evans said this is a threat to the Landscape Arboretum, just as any program.
“I would hate to see any less spent on campus beautification than is currently being spent,” he said. “I certainly hope that campus beautification is never again allowed to become deficient.”