Easton Hamel knew he wanted to go to college in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Having grown up in the Upper Peninsula, he wanted a change of scenery.
Inspired by his high school English teacher, who attended CMU and talked about her experience, Easton enrolled at CMU.
Early on, Easton struggled with being away from home, but it was encouragement from former residence hall director Ann Krzyzaniak that helped him get through it. He was introduced to Ann through his Leadership Safari core guide and even though she wasn’t his residence hall director, they made an instant connection.
“I really owe it to her,” Easton said. “She helped me get over my homesickness and see that the world is my oyster.”
Once he was settled in, Easton took advantage of all the opportunities CMU students have. He lived in the business residential college, where his roommates and neighbors became his second family and helped him come out of his shell. He participated in a bake sale to fundraise for the Isabella County Restoration House and joined the registered student organization Program Board.
“The community and family of CMU is beyond any others I’ve encountered,” Easton said. “Everyone, the professors and staff, genuinely care about the students and want to see you succeed.”
Easton joined the Financial Wellness Collaborative as the internal operations chair during the initiative’s first year and helped with the launch of its Money Mentors. Money Mentors are trained students who collaborate and educate their peers on how to establish foundations of financial wellness. He worked alongside graduate assistants on the collaborative’s efforts including assessment, curriculum, and campus outreach and programming. The position opened his eyes to the impact finances have on nearly every student and inspired his desire to continue to work with students after graduation.
“For anyone who is nervous, growth and change don’t come in a day,” he said. “Take everything in.”
While Easton will miss his time and experiences at CMU, he knows he’ll leave with knowledge and understanding that will help him in his next step.
“Our time here is quantifiable, but the knowledge and skills we gain aren’t.”