University Relations and Marketing

Contacts:
Kim Schweikert, MSU Billings Downtown, 896-5888
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269

April 25, 2011

Experience, expertise, employment

Hard work, passion helps earn MSU Billings senior accolades — and a job

By Dan Carter
MSU Billings News Services

Students at Montana State University Billings are adept at juggling things. Family responsibilities, labs, student organizations, homework and outside activities are all a part of the college experience. Throw in a job and life gets pretty full.

In fact, about 80 percent of students at MSU Billings work to make ends meet.  Some of those jobs are in the community and some of them are work-study jobs at the university, tackling assorted tasks and projects.

From time to time, however, those college jobs evolve into something bigger and better, even life-changing.

Such was the case this year for Alicia Meyer, a senior public relations major.

Marilynn Miller and Alicia MeyerThe 22-year-old from Cody, Wyo., transferred to MSU Billings in her junior year and started looking for work. She landed a work-study job at the MSU Billings Foundation. Eventually she was given more tasks, gained a reputation for hard work and even helped produce a 10-minute video for a new scholarship campaign.

This spring, she was selected as the Student Employee of the Year for MSU Billings and the state of Montana. She competed against campus winners from three other institutions that also belong to the Western Association of Student Employment Administrators.

And her work so impressed her employer, that she now has a full-time job waiting for her when she graduates this next week.

“When the foundation decided to launch a new campaign, Alicia was right on board and immediately made herself indispensable,” said Marilynn Miller, president and CEO of the MSU Billings Foundation. “She became so central to our campaign that we decided to give her a job starting in July.”

For Meyer, the experience as a work-study mirrored her experience at MSU Billings. She was urged to explore her passion, pressed to try new things and was recognized for her individualism.

Coming out of high school in Wyoming, she originally wanted to pursue her love of ballet. She attended the University of Nevada Las Vegas for a time, but wanted to find a better fit for her personal interests and academic career. She looked for options closer to home, finding MSU Billings and the public relations program through an internet search.

“It’s the best thing I could have ever done,” she said. “Here you are much more a person than a number.”

No wallflower, Meyer immersed herself into campus life and activities as well as her work. She became involved in Student United Way and serves as student trustee on the Billings United Way Board of Directors. She made lasting friendships in the classroom and the community, which made her invaluable, Miller said, when the foundation needed assistance on the new scholarship campaign.

The Opportunity Campaign for MSU Billings Scholarships is an effort to raise $6 million to help students meet their financial needs. A part of that campaign involved producing a video that helps tell the story of the needs of students and the commitment of local business leaders to help.

“Alicia recruited the students, contacted community members, scheduled recording sessions all over campus and the city, coordinated the shooting schedule and, during taping, interviewed the subjects to secure the video clips that would appear in the final product,” said Miller. “In the end, she helped produce a video that far exceeded everyone’s expectations.”

Meyer said she thought her skills and interests fit hand-in-glove with the project.

“It was kind of like fate; they just let me take on the project,” she said. “I got to decide who we interviewed and put in the video. I got to do things that I never thought I would be able to do.”

As a student who also benefitted from scholarships, Meyer said she finds the work helping other students “so rewarding” and looks forward to continuing her work at the foundation.

The Student Employee of the Year winner is honored for their accomplishments in which they demonstrate reliability, initiative, quality of work, professionalism, uniqueness of contribution, and community and campus services. For more information on the competition, contact Lisa Wallace, employment service specialist in the Office of Career Services at 657-1618 or via e-mail at lwallace@msubillings.edu.

PHOTO ABOVE: Alicia Meyer, seated at left, is photographed with Marilynn Miller, president and CEO of the MSU Billings Foundation. Meyer was recognized recently as both the local and statewide Student Employee of the Year.

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