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Behind the Kryzsko Curtain

If you find yourself walking by the ominous black tarp that hangs over the side of the Kryzko Commons and wondering what the heck is going on back there, you’re not alone. Students at WSU have been eagerly waiting to see the debut of the newest addition to the building since this past fall.

However, a few of us student workers in the Web Communication Office were able to get the inside scoop and see what all the hullabaloo was about. With the help of Joe Reed, the Student Union and Activities Director, we strapped on our hard hats and entered an area where no student has gone before.

interior of Kryzsko when under construction

We first entered the bottom level of the construction area through a door in the newly renovated bookstore.  From here, we were able to see the long walkway students will enter from the west side of campus.  The two levels of the new area will be split and separated by this bottom walkway. On the far side, a large TV will be projecting images and announcements regarding all the happenings on campus.

The second level of Kryzsko when under construction

We then proceeded to the middle level of the new addition.  From here, students will be able to look up over the railing and see a glass wall separating them from another study lounge area, in order to keep the area quiet for prime cramming sessions. Reed also mentioned there will be new, comfy furniture for students to enjoy while hanging out on campus.

wall of windows of interior of Kryzsko when under construction

To the right of the middle floor, there are large windows being set that will face the center of campus. Here, students can sip their coffee, watch the sunrise (or sunset) and enjoy a peaceful scene as they complete their homework. Each window-wall is set at an angle, which adds to the design of the new addition.

construction materials in the parking lot

From here, we headed to the upper area of the construction zone, where the new and improved Baldwin Lounge will be located. Along with many new features, Baldwin will have large windows as well to improve lighting and sustainability. New furniture will also be added to this area, along with fresh carpeting. (Pssst, it will match the flooring in the new bookstore; go check it out!)

the entrance to the renovated Baldwin Lounge

Last (but certainly not least) the renovated Baldwin will have many more meeting and conference rooms. Each room will hold a large table and several chairs, so students could work on group projects or hit the books in solitude. Each area will have a large glass pane on the outside, so students can easily see if the meeting room is occupied.

While we can’t give away all of the new exciting add-ons to Kryzsko Commons, we can say that students are DEFINTELY going to enjoy these additions to the building.  To the Warriors who are returning in the fall…be excited. Be very excited!

Katlyn Plourde, Melissa VanGrinsven and Leah Dobihal

I’ve got those Summertime, Summertime Classes

student sit on grass in the middle of campus

Summer sun means the courtyard is the new favorite study location

Since I graduated high school, summer just hasn’t been the same anymore. Of course, summer is still a time to relax and have fun with friends but it’s also become a critical few months to prepare for the next semester. And I know that I am not alone in this; most college students work as many hours as possible to pay for school or build up their resumes with valuable internship experience. Still others, like myself, take summer classes in order to get ahead, explore interests or catch up and graduate sooner.

This will be my third year of summer classes. After freshman year, I took two classes because I had to stay in Winona for a part-time job and wanted to get started on my English major and what was then a Mass Communication minor. During my second summer, I went on a two week travel study  to Italy, which was an amazing experience I wouldn’t have been able to have during the normal semester. Now this summer, I’ll be taking two classes in order to graduate in four years with an English and PR double major.

Every year, there are three summer sessions—May, June, and July—and each is about 4 weeks long. You can take just one session or take classes the whole summer. Each course has a pretty intense schedule of class two hours a day, four days a week but, honestly, I find this easier than juggling the content and workload of 4 or 5 classes for 16 weeks. Plus, because there are fewer people on campus, you can be pretty much guaranteed that your favorite study location will be open.

I’ve always taken traditional-style classes and stayed in Winona through the summer. Summer in Winona is way more fun than Winona in the winter as there are many festivals and outdoor recreation opportunities. However, if you really want to get out of town for a few months, many classes are actually offered online so you can take them while still living at home. Other classes are hybrids, balancing online and face-to-face class time. Depending on where your hometown is, this may mean that you can make a daytrip for those face-to-face classes.

If you are interested in taking a summer class or two (and I encourage that you do), you can go online to the “Find A Course” website and take a look at the classes being offered this summer. Once you find a class and a time that works for you, you can add it to your cart and register then and there—no access code needed. Whether you want to get ahead in your major or general education requirements, travel for class credit or graduate sooner, summer classes are an option worth considering.

–Liz Meinders

A Big Day in Dinkytown

a couple stand in front of an outdoor sculpture

It was a snowy day in the Sculpture Garden.

There was a sense of anticipation on the bus. Everyone, students and community members alike, was peering out the window, wondering if we had finally arrived at our first location. Within minutes, we’d hopped off the bus, passed through the doors and wandered beneath a huge chandelier shaped like an exploding sun. We’d finally reached the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

The Minneapolis Institute of Art, or MIA, was just the first of four stops that the Art Department scheduled for this past Saturday. After we’d gotten our fill of Matisse, impressionism, and Japanese art exhibits, we swiftly moved on to the Walker Art Center and sculpture garden to experience a series of modern art exhibits. When we arrived at our next location, the Northern Clay Center, we had the opportunity to explore galleries as well as student workshops. Our final artistic stop was at the Weisman Art Museum, which is part of the University of Minnesota campus. This space hosted a plethora of photography and modern art, including a permanent piece that imitated the hallway of an apartment building. We finished up the day in Dinkytown, where we had a little over and hour to find dinner at a local restaurant. After that, we hopped back on the bus and headed back home.

Winona State University hosts this trip at least once per year and it is open to students and community members alike. This time around, it only cost ten dollars plus whatever food or souvenirs we purchased on our journey. It is an experience I would recommend to anyone, regardless of their interest in art. I learned a lot simply by participating, by exposing myself to such a variety of artistic forms and locations–and I think everyone else on the trip would agree. When the bus pulled up to Watkins Hall at the end of the day, we were all exhausted from a busy day, but thrilled to have experienced so much.

–Olivia Wulf

The Best & Worst Decisions I Made in College--and the Lessons Learned

good bad lessonsAs I count down the weekends I have left in college, I can’t help but reflect on the past four crazy years. I am very happy with and proud of many decisions I’ve made here at Winona State, but, of course, there are other choices that have not served me so well.

I’m a firm believer that everyone has to make and learn from their own mistakes, but I hope someone out there can learn a little something from my journey. There are plenty of ups and down in your college years and I hope the good always out-weighs the not-so-good.

The Good

Studying abroad
Without a doubt, this has been the best decision, possibly of my whole life. Am I being dramatic? Maybe, but probably not– the experience really was amazing. Studying in Granada, Spain for 5 months of my junior year changed how I look at the world and myself. It’s taught me more about the world, my own country and most importantly, myself. I have become a huge advocate of all students studying abroad and can’t imagine my life if I hadn’t of taken the chance to do so. I only wish I had been able to spend a full year abroad.

Plaza de España, Seville,  Spain

Plaza de España, Seville, Spain

The other best decision of my college career was getting a job that has given me meaningful experience and opened my eyes to future careers. I work in the Web Communications office working on WSU’s website and social media and I absolutely love it. I’ve learned so much and now I am headed into the workforce with real-world experience and a sense of which field I would like to enter. Don’t get me wrong, academics are very important but my job experience is just as valuable to me as my grades.


The Bad

Coming to college with my high school best friend
That seems like a dream come true, right? Umm no. Story time: Now, we didn’t choose Winona State because the other did. We both independently made the decision to come here but things didn’t unfold as ideally as I had hoped. Freshman year, we spent way too much time together and I didn’t branch out as much as one should. I didn’t make too many new, close friends and spent a lot of time with her friends.

Fast forward to junior year and this friend and I had a big falling out (big as in 15 months later, I have yet to speak to her). I knew it was time to move on from this friendship but it also meant moving on from many of the other friends I had made and I was left feeling lonely and isolated. It took a lot of resolve to start over with a clean slate but I because I did, I met amazing friends who mean the world to me. If only I had done that my first year.


The Lessons Learned

Branch out
If you already know some people when you arrive on campus that first day, great! Stay in touch with them but don’t depend on them. Don’t stop reaching out to new people because you never know who could end up becoming an irreplaceable  friend.

Take risks
I was terrified of studying abroad. I almost started crying in the airport because I wasn’t sure I could do it. But I didn’t let that stop me. I took a risk and it paid off big time. You can take risks everyday that can lead to amazing opportunities. Introduce yourself to that interesting person in your ENG 111 class. Go to a club meeting even though you don’t know anyone. Apply for a big internship even though you might not get. Remember: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.

–Liz Ortiz

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 70%, 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 70% rise as younger generations begin attending WSU.

Graph 2

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 last spring, which accounts for why only 50% of students own 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! The really are becoming a part of the lives of individuals.

Graph 3

When the laptop program was first implemented 17 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 8,408 students enrolled in WSU, around half of those have a tablet but soon enough it that will be at 100%.

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 17 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

60 Minutes to Adventure

Olivia poses next to a giant statue of a bicyclist

Chilling out with “Ben Bikin,” the World’s Largest Bicyclist,  in Sparta, WI.

Last week, I provided a few options for thirty-minute adventures. Though these types of travels are perfect for a brief study break or Winona escape, what if you’re looking to put just a little more distance between yourself and that enormous final paper?

That’s where this post comes in. I’ll be exploring areas just a little further away, about fifty minutes or an hour past Winona’s city limits, and giving you a few ideas of fun activities you may find there. So, grab your maps or smartphones and follow along as we venture further into southern Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Rochester, MN

Though most people know Rochester for the Mayo Clinic, there are a number of fun activities awaiting you within this city. Not only is it home to one of the most delightful Barnes and Noble’s around, which looks like a castle and is adapted from an old theatre, Rochester also has a variety of music and performance venues in which to see a show. There are also a number of fun restaurants and food stores, including a Trader Joe’s and the People’s Food Co-op for all you foodies out there. To top off your organic snacks, be sure to swing by Flapdoodles on your way out of town. Their homemade ice cream is as delightful as their name.

Lanesboro, MN

Lanesboro, Minnesota is known as the bed and breakfast capital of our fair state. This makes the town especially charismatic with natural parks and picturesque walking bridges scattered around the downtown. The downtown is also populated with restaurants, cafes, boutiques, and even a professional theatre company. The Commonweal Theatre is home to about five performances each year, which are reasonably priced and charmingly nestled alongside the main street. For all you theatre enthusiasts out there, Lanesboro is the perfect distance for an evening of fine dining and performance.

Sparta, WI

Traveling on four wheels, the bicycling capital of the United States is approximately one hour from your front door. Most travelers in Sparta, however, travel with two wheels on the Elroy-Sparta bike trail. For you active adventurers out there, this railroad-track-turned-bike-trail offers thirty-two miles of fun. When you’ve finished your travels, be sure to stop by the Deke Slayton Memorial Space & Bicycle Museum. Where else but Sparta, Wisconsin can you find a museum that explores both space and spokes?

So if you’re looking to travel outside of Winona, avoid those term papers, and discover adventure, hop in your car and give yourself a day full of fun.

–Olivia Wulf

30 Minutes to Adventure

Olivia sits in the window of a crumbling buidling

I had fun exploring old buildings with my friends on a trip to Trempealeau.

Winona’s city limits are filled with exciting activities and potential adventures. There’s plenty of fun between the bluffs and the river, which I celebrated in my last post. But, what if you need a little time away? What if you’re looking for an opportunity to explore other regions of southeastern Minnesota?

This blog post, the first in a two-part series, will explore the nooks and crannies of the area around Winona. Within just a thirty-minute radius, overworked students and enthusiastic adventurers alike can find plenty of opportunities for fun.

Trempealeau, WI

If you cross the bridge and venture into Wisconsin territory, you’ll find the charming village of Trempealeau, Wisconsin nestled along the river. The drive itself is beautiful, rimmed with bluffs and an assortment of apple orchards, and the town has even more to offer. During the summer, Perrot State Park is open to campers and hikers alike. There’s also an interesting landmark nearby, known as the Jacob Melchoir House and Brewery, which is a dilapidated building from the 1850s precariously perched over a small cave system. Just past this unique site sits the Trempealeau Hotel, a local place to grab a quick bite, book a room for the night or catch an earful of music on the back patio.

Houston, MN

Although the small town of Houston, Minnesota may not seem like more than a blip on the map, this town is an internationally renowned site for owl enthusiasts to gather every March. A few weeks ago, Houston hosted their International Festival of Owls. This festival offers all kinds of owl-based events, like owl-themed meals, photography competitions and owl-expert guest speakers. Houston, Minnesota may just be a charming, small town throughout the year, but during the International Festival of Owls, it’s really a hoot.

La Crosse, WI

La Crosse, Wisconsin is the largest city us Winona folks can get to in thirty minutes. That means it hosts plenty of fun things to do, like the Rotary Christmas lights in December and year-round theatrical performances at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. La Crosse also has a variety of different restaurants scattered around, from Pizza Amore to 1980s, buffet-style Pizza Doctor (just kidding, there actually is a variety of dining options). It also offers an extensive collection of parks and outdoor activities, including Grandad Bluff. Although it’s no Sugar Loaf, the view is still pretty sweet.

So, if you’re going a little stir crazy in Winona and just need a little escape, just take a thirty-minute drive. Chances are, you’ll find something splendid to explore.​

–Olivia Wulf

Making the Most of Your Spring Break


“At least we’re less than two weeks away from spring break!”

I’m betting that you’ve probably said this phrase once or twice this past week. I’m sure most of you have your countdowns set and ticking. You’ve probably been planning this week out with your best friends for the past year and have had your bags packed for over a month now. Not that I blame you, spring break is a time to relax, be productive, get away and make some of your best memories in college.

Maybe you are planning on going all out and heading to Mexico or packing up whoever’s car is the biggest and road tripping it down to Florida. Or maybe you’re like me, spending this week off filling out job applications (senior status!) and getting some much needed shopping in. Whatever you plan to do with your week off make it count!

You will most likely never get the chance to have a week like this ever again or at least until you have an established job and are no longer a broke college student. After graduation, most of your free time will be spent relaxing on your couch because you just spent 40+ hours a week at your job.

I know, I know, you’re probably thinking “I’m in college, I won’t have to do that for another 2-3 years, why are you telling me this now?” Well, before you know it you will be in your last semester and wishing you could experience every memory again. If you don’t have anything planned yet, gather your friends up and be spontaneous. It doesn’t have to cost much; sometimes budget vacations are when you have the most fun. If you are stuck in Winona, spend some time on yourself and get some much-needed R&R in. For those seniors, you could polish up your resume and set up some information interviews. Be productive and get some schoolwork done, but be sure to add some fun in there too. :)

No matter what your plans are for Spring Break 2014 do something that you will not regret!

Have a fun and safe spring break Warriors!

–Katlyn Plourde

P.S. Did you can share your spring break fun with Winona State? Instagram a picture of you on spring break with the hashtag #WSUSpringBreakers. Your photo will then be entered into a contest for some awesome WSU prizes.

Keep Your Friends Close, But Your Old Papers Closer

a frustrated student sits at a computer

You do NOT want to be the student and realize you haven’t been saving any papers since freshman year.

I think it’s safe to say that no two people have identical goals when attending college. Sure, you and several hundred other people may go with the intent to find a job in the same field, but each individual has their own experiences that shape the direction of their careers. Regardless of which path you choose it is the general expectation that at the end you will have something to show for it; and I don’t just mean the degree to hang in your fancy CEO/doctor/movie star office.

Yes, movie stars totally have offices.

Nearly all of the majors that one can undertake in college will have some sort of final project that all of your previous work is meant to lead to. This can come in the form of the Education department’s student teaching, some sort of field-related internship, a capstone project or, in my case, a final English Portfolio.

The portfolio is meant to exhibit my developments as a student, display my contributions to the ongoing literary scholarship and highlight what I consider to be my biggest accomplishments within the major. Basically, we are expected to compile around 15 examples of our writing that satisfy a number of curriculum goals. It’s a staggering amount of work and requires an entire class devoted to its compilation. It’s also vital that we had the foresight to keep copies of everything we’ve written since we were freshmen. If you get to Portfolio class  and don’t have any of your papers from previous years… well let’s just say it’s not a fun situation.

Though obviously not all of you will be dealing with this exact scenario (though I hope some will be, whoop whoop English majors!) I think the idea behind it is an important one. Keeping evidence that you actually worked your butt off in college only has upsides. You never know when a new job will want a writing sample and instead of coming up with something on the fly you’ll be able to pull a piece from your English gen ed. Or maybe if you’re writing code for a website somewhere down the line and realize that you did something similar in your computer science class and you can cut your work in half by seeing how you did it back then. It’s easy to think that some of the courses you’re going to take are just means to an end, but it’s impossible to guess if and when they’ll come into play in the future.

It may seem like a hassle to keep track of all the work you’ve done during your time here, but the benefits far outweigh the inconveniences. And as a laptop university it’s incredibly simple to back up your work in an instant. The free program I’ve been recommending to all my classmates in Portfolio, Dropbox, is incredibly helpful for any college student. With a quick registration you can get 2 gigs of cloud storage which means that whatever you put in your Dropbox folder will be accessible from any computer at any time. If you’re an incoming student (or any year really) I would recommend signing up and backing up your work regularly during your time here.  Keeping a record of your time at WSU is a great way to build up the foundations for a resume, a thesis project or a portfolio.

Also, on a less responsible note it’s just incredibly fun to look back on the work you did as a freshman when you’re a senior

Some of those documents are now officially for my eyes only.

– Sophie Kaplan

Figuring Out FAFSA

Students walk in and out of Somsen Hall

The FAFSA is the first step in figuring out how to get yourself to Winona State.

To begin this post, I’m going to toss a little piece of common knowledge: College costs a lot of money—and people don’t usually have a spare $15K lying around the house.

Maybe you’re lucky enough not to need any financial aid, but you’re probably more like me and the other 88% of WSU students who receive some form of financial aid. And the first step to receiving that financial aid is submitting your Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

Actually, filing your FAFSA is the only step to apply for financial aid at WSU. To get started, go to the FAFSA website and click the link to “Start a New FAFSA.” You’ll then have to create an account using your name, Social Security number and date of birth. Then, there will be a series of questions about things like your family’s income, the size of your family, how many children will be in college next year and your personal income (if you had to file taxes). You will also need to know Winona State’s Title IV school code, which is 002394.

But before all the numbers start to freak you out, know that there are directions and explanations next to the each question to help you if you get confused as well as an entire FAFSA help site.

Once you finish the questions and hit “submit,” you’re done. I’ve never understood why people complain that the FAFSA is so hard to fill out. Honestly, the hardest part about filing the FAFSA is finding the various necessary documents which, depending on your family circumstances and financial situation, might include:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your parents’ Social Security numbers if you are a dependent student
  • Your driver’s license number
  • Your Alien Registration Number if you are not a U.S. citizen
  • Federal tax information or tax returns for you and for your parents if you are a dependent student
  • Records of your untaxed income for you and for your parents if you are a dependent student
  • Information on cash, savings and checking account balances, investments, and business and farm assets for you, and for your parents if you are a dependent student

(This list was adapted from a more detailed list that can be found here)

The FAFSA doesn’t actually award you any financial aid; it simply calculates the amount of money your family is reasonably responsible for providing towards your education. This is called your expected family contribution, or EFC. The WSU Financial Aid Office uses your EFC to determine the amount of need-based and non-need-based aid you can receive. The federal government and Minnesota government also use your EFC and other FAFSA information in determining your eligibility for grants and student loans. So, by filing out the FAFSA, you’ve gotten an automatic 3 for 1 deal for financial aid applications!

Now that I’ve explained it to you, it doesn’t seem so intimidating or difficult does it?

So get on over to the FAFSA site and apply now. WSU strongly recommends filing your FAFSA by May 15 if you plan to attend the University for the fall semester. Keep in mind that most federal and state aid is awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis, so you want to get your application processed as soon as possible. If you wait until after May 15, you might not get as large a financial aid offer as you would have otherwise received.

I promise you, it’s worth the effort.

–Liz Meinders