There's a four-letter word that Sydney Bauer can use to describe Morris: Home.
"Morris is my home, I would say," Bauer said. Bauer will graduate from the University of Minnesota Morris on Saturday, May 18. She is one of about 320 expected graduates.
Bauer grew up in Jordan and graduated from Chaska High School. Her home at UMM extended beyond the campus into the community after her second year at the university.
"Probably...during my sophomore summer. I'd been here every summer but after my sophomore year I moved off campus," Bauer said. As a student living off campus, Bauer said she became more independent.
Morris is a place where if someone doesn't have the answer they will help you find someone who does, Bauer said.
Bauer is interested in sustainability subjects such as renewable energy as a student which is a great match for the city of Morris's participation in the Morris Model in which several partners, including UMM, focus on establishing goals for renewable energy and sustainability for each partner and the county. Bauer is pleased the city is pursuing being a leader in sustainability.
"In general, there is always stuff happening in Morris," Bauer said.
Through her job as a bus driver for the Morris Area Transit system, Bauer can see some of the stuff happening in Morris as she brings riders to and from their stops.
"I love driving transit with my whole entire heart," Bauer said. "I get to meet folks wherever I go. You learn about so many things, activities going on."
"There is a community within the community that I didn't know existed (before driving bus)," Bauer said. She's learned about riders who are related to other riders and who they are related to in town.
The transit system is a hub of the community which Bauer really likes. It's no surprise that one of her favorite places on campus is the campus lawn near the student center. "...it's in the middle of everything," Bauer said.
She can watch the ebb and flow of activity on the mall and see professors and students she knows.
Bauer treasures the relationships she has with fellow students and faculty.
"The professors here are just good people," Bauer said.
They encourage students to ask questions and discuss, she said.
UMM was the right college choice for her for a variety of reasons, Bauer said.
"It takes a specific type of person to go here," Bauer said. A UMM student is "aware of who they are and is willing to be open..."
She appreciates the liberal arts emphasis where she is required to take classes in history, art and other subjects. "It's the whole mix of it all," Bauer said.
In the work world, it's important to have a varied background. "A history major looks at the world differently then a chemistry major does," Bauer said. A liberal arts education helps a student understand both perspectives and to appreciate learning more of each perspective.
Bauer is a biology major who plans to stay in Morris after graduation. She will continue to work for Morris Transit. She plans to be involved in Morris Model projects.
She may eventually get her teaching license but, for now, she didn't want to be 23 and leading a class of middle school students. Plus, she wants a chance to savor not balancing life as a student and working adult.
Bauer is looking forward to shedding her student status and becoming a full-fledged member of the community. "I can be an adult and interacting with my fellow community members," she said. "I can enjoy folks as a regular folk myself."
For a story on a UMM senior who works at Don's, click this link https://www.stevenscountytimes.com/news/education/4614464-finding-fit-morris-umm-senior-likes-campus-community-atmosphere