When high school students start planning for their future, many of them tour university after university and struggle to find the right fit.

But the moment Karly Malizia set foot on the Winona State University campus, she knew she was right where she belonged.

“With WSU, everything is tight-knit and accessible,” Malizia said. “Not to mention the layout of the campus and the surrounding landscape is breathtaking.”

The Gurnee, Ill., native was able to connect and build strong relationships within the Warrior community, from lifelong friendships to respected professional references.

“We are fortunate enough to be able to develop professional relationships with our professors—they know us by name, hometown, and career path,” Malizia said. “At WSU, you are more than just a number. You are an individual with aspirations and ambitions.”

Malizia cited Peter Sternberg, Associate Professor in Health, Exercise, Rehabilitative Sciences (HERS), as an example of the dedication exhibited by WSU faculty.

“[Dr. Sternberg] is always there to push me to new heights and encourage me to follow my dreams,” said Malizia. “I feel I can go to him with any problem I have. He has always been there to support me.”

HERS Instructor Janet Macon was also a great resource for Malizia, who one day hopes to attend graduate school to earn a master’s degree in dietetics.

“Janet is an excellent resource when it comes to be following my dream to become a dietitian, being a dietitian herself,” she said. “As an instructor, Janet pushed me academically, and I am grateful for it.”

The financial support and campus resources available to WSU students also made a huge difference for Malizia. A college education is a big investment, she said, and the scholarships she received—including the James & Margaret Browning Scholarship, the Nicole Zanoni Scholarship, the Home Federal Savings Bank Scholarship, and the Phyllis Ehmke Scholarship—really “sealed the deal.”

“Not only did I love the campus and the academics, but [scholarships] made it possible for me financially to pursue my passions,” she said.

Campus tutoring services like the Writing Center and the Supplement to Instruction Program (S2I) allowed Malizia not only to keep up with her classes but to excel in them.

“WSU allowed me to achieve my goals by providing any resource I could possibly need to be academically successful,” she added. “There are resources available for every class in every major. Not to mention these services are free to students!”

Malizia will graduate this spring with a bachelor’s degree in Public Health and a minor in Nutrition.

“I am proud to graduate from WSU because I found opportunities that a lot of my friends who went to other (bigger) schools did not,” Malizia said. “During my time at WSU, I was able to be a member of the cheerleading team, president of my sorority, and on Homecoming Court. I have had so many irreplaceable experiences that would not have been possible if I went to a different university.”

Reflecting back on her college career, Malizia said one of the most important things WSU taught her is that every mistake is an opportunity for growth.

“It is OK to make mistakes—that’s what college is for! Make mistakes here, learn from them, and take the learned lessons into the real world. Every mistake made is just another lesson learned.”

WSU Spring Commencement Ceremonies will take place Friday, May 4, in McCown Gymnasium on the Winona campus. The 9 a.m. ceremony will feature the College of Business and College of Science and Engineering. The 12:30 p.m. ceremony will feature the College of Education and the College of Liberal Arts. The 4 p.m. ceremony will feature the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Malizia was selected by the WSU Student Senate as one of three student speakers for the ceremonies and will deliver the student address at the 4 p.m. ceremony.

For more information, visit winona.edu/graduation or call University Communications at 507-457-5024.

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Brian Waldbillig

Brian is a Public Relations major and Communication Studies minor from Farmington, MN. His hobbies include photography, hiking and going to concerts.