Teen rises above homelessness, addiction

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By VIRGINIA HOLST/Montana State News

Priding herself on six months of sobriety from all hard drug use, Ashley Grey Allsop is considered by her peers a success story, to say the least. If you’ve interacted with her, you may know her as the friendly face at McDonalds, or the helpful frequenter of the Warming Center.

I struggled to find an appropriate place and time in which to interview Allsop amidst all the bustle of the seasonal shelter, which is all too busy despite its outdated facilities. We attempted to step aside into one of the quieter but still in-use areas of the Warming Center.

I assumed Allsop would request some privacy before delving into my questions, but she unashamedly began, without asking the two other volunteers in that area to leave the room. Needless to say, we all got wrapped in her story relatively quickly, and soon, I wasn’t the only one asking questions. More

Depression poses unique challenges for student

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By TIM STOVER/Montana State News

Sadness feels like having a big black dog with you at all times. It’s overwhelming and hard to escape. According to Suzanne Johnson, a student at Montana State University, that’s what depression feels like. She used the World Health Organization’s YouTube video entitled “I had a black dog, his name was depression,” to describe sadness – a   clinical sadness. When asked what happiness felt like, she didn’t have an answer, at least for a couple hours.

We spoke on campus in the sub while having a bite to eat. Johnson wore jeans and a gray sweatshirt paired with Princess Leia like buns in her hair. She seemed happy.

The question she had the hardest time answering, “What is happiness,” took her a few hours to provide a response to. In the end, she concluded on “Happiness is like all of space rushing into you and filling you up. You feel complete.” More

Sports writer took unlikely route to career

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By JARED MILLER/Montana State News

Just a scant distance down I-90 midway between Missoula and Seattle sits a birthplace. Not only the birthplace of Washington’s Brian Scott but the place in which a very talented columnist was born. It was important to him that I use that term: columnist. “Not a reporter,” he stressed. And right there is where Scott’s story finds its core. A love for sports and a talent for writing met in the middle ground and that middle ground is where he resides today.

Picture a young boy watching the Seattle Mariners and trying his hardest to replicate the swing of the great Edgar Martinez. Or maybe imagine a college grad from Gonzaga entering the big bad, bad world of radio as an intern “playing the hits and poppin’ the zits,” as he put it. This is Scott. Sports and Washington are ingrained in him. It was the gift of writing, though, that would come later and ultimately define his career arc.

“I worked at a radio station during the early 90s,” Scott explained. “During my tenure there the AM station switched formats from old-school country music to an all sports format.” Bingo. The seeds of Scott’s career had been planted. More

Iranian student’s options limited by status

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By RANIA AMPNTEL CHAFINT/Montana State News

Christmas and Fourth of July are his favorite holidays. In the winter, he loves to hunt; in the summer, he loves to shoot. For Spring Break, he plans to fly to Massachusetts for a Metallica concert. Some say he holds all the qualities of a typical Montanan, but there is only one catch: He’s Iranian.

Wearing a green down jacket and a gray beanie, Arash Akbari introduced himself, “I’m 27 years old. I study mechanical engineering with a minor in physics.” In 2015, Arash moved to Bozeman, where, almost instantly after he arrived, he felt at home.

Walking inside the MSU library with Akbari  is never a short affair, as he stops to chat with people he knows. “I haven’t seen you in so long, man,” he said to his friend. “Let’s play soccer sometime.”

About 20 minutes later, after having visited with three friends, he went back to introducing himself: “I plan to study astrophysics in the future; I love astronomy,” he said with a smile. Akbari is bound to teach you about a star or two if you spend some time with him after sundown. More

Visiting prof seeks to boost diversity at MSU

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By BAY STEPHENS/Montana State News

“Growing up, I thought only Mexicans were poor,” Eric Lopez told an  University Montana State Latino Texts and Cinema class, “because I only saw poor Mexicans.” With kind eyes and a smile that melts a bad attitude, Lopez, 48, is a huggable guy, even in a suit. Though he can talk about himself and tell his own story with humor and verve, it’s easy to see that Lopez doesn’t derive his joy from self-focus. He is an encourager and a team player, of which his life and work bear the evidence.

Growing up the son of Mexican-American migrant workers, privileges such as college were not exactly expected. Lopez’ parents worked hard to put him and his brother through Catholic school, instead of the less sterling public schools. Though it was strange at some points— he jokes that he was “raised by a wild pack of Irish nuns” who taught him and his brother to say Spanish names wrong—their educators were far more tolerant of difference than in his parents’ day.

Lopez was the first in his family to go to college, not to mention get a master’s and Ph.D. in school psychology. Today he is the dean of the College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M, San Antonio, his home city. More

Student sees no need to impress others

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By JACKSON NOLDE/Montana State News

On the Montana State campus, the SUB is a place where students can sit before their next class.  Often people catch up on homework. Others catch up with their friends: “it’s a time to be social even with all the homework we have to do.” With her lower half of her hair dyed bright blue, she is a girl who doesn’t dress to impress. Instead, she dresses for herself, which is for comfort.

She has nobody to impress and that she doesn’t care.

If she had a boyfriend, she’d tell him to love her for she is sweatpants and all. She wears glasses and proclaims herself to be a disaster. Here is a woman who is a student studying English with a focus on teaching. Her dream is to teach English and Spanish to high school students somewhere in Montana.

Here is a very motivated student who is the daughter of a civil engineer and a stay-at-home mom. When asked if her father wanted her to follow in his footsteps, she put it simply that numbers aren’t her friends and she’d be hopeless. That was when her dad figured she was going to shine in her light. Neither of her parents pressured her into any particular set of studies, but instead told her to follow her passion because that will pay for itself. More

Skydiving a game changer for unlikely jumper

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By ZACHARY COE/Montana State News

She sits in her cubical at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana and feels her mind beginning to drift. She sits in her usual work attire of black dress pants and a fancy pink and white blouse. She holds still and stares off into space as the monogamy of life is melting away in front of her while she ponders the question I asked her.

The mind of Lisa Jenkins begins drift as she tells me the details of that warm summer day in 1989.

Lisa Jenkins is a young, blonde woman who normally wears glasses, but not today. She is wearing a bright green jumpsuit as she enters the 20-person plane. Jenkins feels the anticipation of anxiety overcome her as she enters the plane and hears the engine begin to roar in front of her. The amazing piece of machinery begins to move and eventually blasts off the runway.

“Lisa, are you ready?” asks Dave, the tandem attached to her back. They approach the open plane door and prepare to jump like all the others did before her. All she can focus on his her breathing. Jenkins remembered the meeting, right after they made her sign the death warrant. If she did not breathe, she would pass out. More

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