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Passion with Purpose

A sunset is reflected in the ripples of Flathead Lake

Impact and service

We are harness our collective strength as a campus community and as a public university to serve society, to make a real and lasting impact on the common good. Journeys start here and continue onward, guided by passions and motivated by an unshakable drive to do great things.

Opportunity of a lifetime

Graphic designer Benji Headswift felt it was an opportunity of a lifetime when he was selected last year to create a Native American logo for the University of Montana’s participation in Nike’s N7 program, a national initiative that encourages Indigenous youth to join in sports and recreational activities.

I hope this design gives our Indigenous people pride,” Benji says. “I hope it inspires people to take a look at getting their education. I look at it as a new way of earning our feathers.”

Journalism's mantra: Learn by doing

Clarise Larson's drive to tell compelling stories came to the fore during her journalism studies at UM, so perhaps it's no surprise that she recently earned second place in the prestigious 2022-23 Hearst Journalism Awards for an article she wrote as a reporter for UM's Native News Honors Project. Now working as a reporter at the Juneau Empire newspaper in Alaska, Clarise says being a professional journalist is living up to her expectations.

Protect what you love

Missoula native Nick Mills has a passion for the outdoors and wildlife that runs as deep as the Rattlesnake Wilderness. “I chose to stay in Missoula because of the University of Montana’s world-class wildlife biology program," he says. "I realized I wanted to protect the areas I loved.” Nick was recently selected to intern with the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Rising to the challenge

With time to reflect while incarcerated after struggling with addiction, Xavier Gonzales-Graybill came to the realization that his true calling — and next step of his journey — was baking.

Missoula College has made me a part of its community, they believe in me,” he said. “No other university would have let me do this.”

Now an outsized presence at UM's Big Sky Culinary Institute, Xavier shares his heart, enthusiasm, artistry and patience with the UM community as a talented baker, savvy coffee bar operator and student life activity coordinator. His mentor Matt Parkey describes it well: “He’s taken the cards that were dealt him and reshuffled the deck.”

Bringing Aloha to Montana

UM's Pacific Islanders Club started out as an opportunity for students of Pacific Island descent to come together, but it quickly grew to include members from across campus and the Missoula community. 

We’ve created our club for social gatherings, listen to music and eat, but people come to our space to learn,” says Isaac La’a, a native of Hawaii. “They ask a lot of questions about our language and our traditions.”