For Anthony Lovejoy, it was love at first sight.
Lovejoy is a senior at the University of Minnesota Morris. He won't officially graduate until the fall semester but he will be playing in the symphonic winds for the May 18 commencement. He's been at the university for four years and his first impression was a lasting one.
"I fell in love with it immediately," Lovejoy said of the first campus visit he made while a senior in Belle Plaine High School.
"I came for the Community of Scholars (event)," Lovejoy said. "I really liked every part of campus. Something felt unique about it. It felt fun."
Belle Plaine is about the size of Morris so the community is a comfortable fit. He knew he wouldn't be comfortable attending a college in the Twin Cities.
"A lot of my (high school friends) went to the Twin Cities for school...," Lovejoy said. They were determined to get out of a small town, he said.
"I just wanted to get out of high school," he said.
Lovejoy is a double major in music and economics. UMM officials didn't flinch when he said he wanted the double major. He's been able to balance an academic workload with his band activities which have included jazz band, jazz combos, and symphonic winds.
He's also been working at Don's Cafe in Morris since the summer after his freshman year.
"I love my boss Marcia (Buss). She is hilarious," Lovejoy said.
His work schedule has been mainly Friday and Saturday nights but he does work some weekend mornings.
"Oh certainly I've got my regulars (customers)," Lovejoy said. Two customers come in nearly every Friday and Saturday night and their dinner will usually include a raspberry sundae, Lovejoy said.
He likes engaging with the customers. "I guess I definitely learned how to make conversation very quickly," Lovejoy said of his job.
Personally, he chooses the cheeseburger with a side of hashbrowns as his evening meal.
He knows many of the customers at Don's but he's also gotten to know the Morris community.
"When people are out and about, you recognize their faces when I'm walking or biking by," Lovejoy said.
The town slows down in summer.
"It becomes very peaceful for a few months. It becomes more familiar," Lovejoy said.
His life on campus has also been fulfilling.
Professors and music instructors helped develop his musical skills.
"Definitely, I was a way worse player than I am now," Lovejoy said of his ability on the trumpet. "Certainly I was challenged as a student, especially as a musician."
"In my first lesson, the instructor was very understanding and wanted to help make us better players," Lovejoy said.
He can also participate in a variety of musical offerings at the university.
"Just (recently) we had a recording session for a piece commissioned by a composer," Lovejoy said. "There is so much to do here if you are a musician."
He also expected that having a double major would be a hassle because campus officials and faculty would frown on it. It wasn't.
"I didn't have any classes that overlapped," Lovejoy said. Professor and campus officials supported him as he took classes for each major.
Lovejoy is looking for a career and community fit that is similar to his college and community fit.
"If I could find a job in a smaller setting somewhere in the area, that would be great," Lovejoy said.
"I imagine working and I would love to work on spreadsheets all day long," he said.
While a larger city may offer more to some, Lovejoy believes he can find enough small town outlets for his music along with the occasional music job in Fargo or other larger communities.
For a story on a UMM senior who drives transit bus in the city, click this link: https://www.stevenscountytimes.com/news/education/4614470-student-bus-driver-resident-umm-grad-bauer-meshes-campus-community