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Wherever Grizzlies Roam, They Thrive

The jagged peaks of the Bitterroot Mountains
Relentless in Pursuit of the Future

We make things happen and get things done daily and we celebrate our accomplishments along the way. But we are not the outdated work hard/play hard type. We're the atypical pursue daily/renew daily. Rigorously pursue your goal and religiously nourish your soul. We know of no better place than Montana and its university to do both.

UM graduate Shanna Madison sits on a desk in Rankin Hall wearing her mortar board cap and smiles at the camera

Unbridled Creativity

Unstoppable drive

At 14, she printed the webpage of UM’s bachelor of fine arts in media and technology and pinned it in her bedroom. She didn’t know it then, but a creative career was calling.

After a stint in her hometown technological institution that never felt quite right, she found her way to UM in a manner that was a bit like being pulled to a magnet.

Once at UM, she got her start taking pictures of cheeseburgers and chicken nuggets and made eating in the Food Zoo look cool. Turns out, running social media for Campus Dining is a secret sauce, especially when you grow followers by the thousands.

Next, she became a face of UM as an Advocate, showing prospective students why UM is the best underdog choice they never knew they needed.

A declared journalism major led her to the Montana Kaimin student newspaper, where she was schooled in how to cover her own institution in a cutthroat and meaningful way. She shot arts and culture on campus and in town and a passion for photojournalism came clearly into view. It might have been this time, hanging out with bands and artists, that she developed a distinct UM flair about her, including a septum ring and 10-15 tattoos that each have a story.

Her last intern gig was again at UM, but this time in the central marketing and communications unit, which she wondered might have been a bit boring.

Instead, what she found was a huge amount of creative freedom, intense mentorship, constant feedback and expectations that pushed her places she didn’t know she could go. Calling her internship a catalyst for her career and confidence, she landed her next, prestigious place behind a camera: a six-month photography internship at one of the nation’s oldest and most-read periodicals: the Chicago Tribune.

Just a few days before she drove east in ’05 Subaru littered with stickers about art and national parks, in search of a big city apartment, Shanna Madison walked in UM's Fall Commencement, officially earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a photojournalism concentration.

With a bohemia aesthetic, a camera and a razor-sharp nose for an authentic story, Shanna Madison is ready to make her own way.

That’s the thing about a Butte kid with a UM education and the kind of work ethic passed down from Irish immigrant family members. They’re unstoppable. She’s ready to document stories the world needs to see.

Chicago: this Grizzly is coming for you.

Graham Whitney holds textbooks under his arm in the library.
From the West to Washington, D.C.

Griz at Heart

Growing up in Colorado, it was only natural that mountains would become a part of his soul – an affection for life at high altitude so deep it stayed front of mind when choosing a college.

It wasn’t just the mountains surrounding Missoula, though, that drew Graham Whitney to UM: It was also the Western Undergraduate Exchange scholarship.

Of his decision to major in political science, Graham points to his days as a fifth grader aspiring to be a civil rights lawyer – yup, fifth grade – a love for all things historical and a desire to make the world a better place. For good measure, he completed minors in history and international development, too.

He finds nitty-gritty policymaking and the slow grind of governing fascinating mechanisms for creating real change. His initial experiences in the political trenches came last summer as a Baucus Leaders intern in Washington, D.C., working for Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado. His duties included lots of time spent answering phones and responding to constituent letters.

This winter Graham is fine-tuning both his political chops working as an intern for U.S. Sen Jon Tester and serving as a youth mentor for a local after-school program, Flagship.

When not studying, this member of the Davidson Honors College and Franke Global Leadership Initiative hikes and skis the peaks that drew him to Missoula, and competes in fierce games of Catan and Monopoly.

As for the future, well, maybe it’s law, but for sure it’s work involving voting rights, clean energy or other issues impacting the environment. It also may mean a return to Washington, D.C., a city he finds surprisingly captivating despite its lack of serious elevation.

Whether he ends up inside the Beltway or settled in the West, Graham will remain Griz at heart.

“I love UM,” he said. “I had a lot of great classmates, and my professors were a big part of shaping my life.”

Graduate Stella Hyde smiles at the camera.
Wasting No Time

Getting Down to Business

After just one campus tour, she knew UM was it. That’s because she saw herself becoming actual friends with the guides, Missoula had a cool vibe and there were plenty of trails for cross-country skiing.

So, she neatly packed her bags with 28 advanced placement credits from Bend, Oregon, and became a Griz. She didn’t intend to graduate in only three-and-a-half years, but that’s how Stella Hyde’s Griz journey went.

After her first class in UM’s College of Business, she became enthralled with accounting. Her professor was expertly skilled in mentoring and teaching, prompting Stella to visit during office hours and consider an accounting major. She made accounting feel like a puzzle that needed to be organized, and Stella was attracted to the methodical nature of putting numbers where they need to go.

Immersing herself in the deep, professional network of UM’s business college, she found natural connections with faculty, alumni and fellow students and started spending nearly all her time in the Gallagher Business Building. Spending days in the business hive led her to not one but four internships with some of the nation’s largest and most prestigious accounting firms.

The internship with CLA in Washington gave her an inside look at public accounting and auditing. With Pahlisch Homes, she learned internal accounts payable. The value of internships led her to become a student employee in the business college’s student success office, where she connected with other students, put them in touch with alumni and encouraged them along the way.

Diving even deeper with the College of Business, she joined the Beta Alpha Psi honor society, an international honor society for accounting, finance and information systems students. She worked her way up to the club’s treasurer position, networked with alumni, got the inside scoop on what employers want and learned LinkedIn tricks to position herself as competent and professional. (Though she already had those skills all along, they were just highlighted and tended to.)

Not one for all fun and games, Stella added a minor in psychology and found meaningful parallels between consumer behavior and how people work.

Unsurprisingly, Stella has yet another internship in January. This time, in Denver with BDO, where she plans to garner a deeper focus on auditing – the area of accounting she finds most interesting. Then she’ll complete a final internship with Wipfli this summer.

All of this before she plans to enroll in UM’s Master of Accounting program next year.