Luke Meyer's First Lesson

That Adds Up: From Baxter to Commencement

Commencement can be both an exciting and challenging time for graduates. Questions about life after graduation and the impending change can create an air of uncertainty. It’s fitting MSUM’s Fall 2023 student commencement speaker is a student whose academic journey has been incredibly intuitive. Luke Meyer’s path from Baxter, Minn., to the commencement stage has been full of decisions that might convince you he had it all mapped out from the beginning.

Hailing from a family of educators—both of his parents work in the Brainerd Public School district—Luke's passion for teaching runs deep. Without hesitation, he says he knew he would be a teacher from a young age. He chose MSUM not only for its affordability and ideal size but also because, in his words, it's "where teachers go to school."

Selecting a major posed no challenge either. While asymptotes and algebra may scare some, mathematics has always been a topic of interest and came naturally to Luke. Unsurprisingly, he’s earning a BA in Mathematics with a BS in Math Education on his way to becoming a math teacher.

At MSUM, he found mentors in the Math Department, particularly crediting instructors like Dr. Goyt, Dr. James, Dr. Poplin, Dr. Solhjem, Dr. Harms, and prof. Fitting for their guidance. Their ability to connect with students left a lasting impression on Luke, shaping his academic path and influencing his approach to teaching.

Embracing the Uncomfortable: Lessons Beyond the Classroom

For a student whose academic journey seemed like a series of inevitabilities, Luke says he learned several lessons from tackling the unexpected. Luke not only excelled in the classroom but also embraced the holistic college experience, even if it didn’t seem like a natural fit at first.

Luke was actively involved in various student organizations, each playing a crucial role in shaping his college experience. The Math Club and tutoring at the Math Learning Center provided platforms for his academic interests, while the Men's Rugby Club and Crossroads Lutheran Campus Ministry allowed him to form connections beyond the classroom. He even spent time in the Gold Star Marching Band at North Dakota State University.

While his Math-related activities perfectly fits Luke’s interests and expertise, some of his other involvements don’t seem as natural. Between marching for “the other school” and joining a sport the slender student says he “is most definitely not built to play,” Luke dove headfirst into these groups, embracing the uncomfortable and adapting to what could have been awkward fits. This fearless approach helped him thrive and allowed him to travel the nation with his newfound friends, from Texas to Tennessee and several other destinations in between.

Luke Meyer Playing Rugby

“It’s important to get involved, but find time to be you,” says Luke.

The common tie among these seemingly unconnected organizations is simple: community. Each taught him valuable lessons to complement what he learned in the classroom and make him a more well-rounded person.

This is at the heart of the message he will share with his 400 fellow graduates on commencement day - the importance of learning, both in the traditional sense and from unexpected sources.

First Lesson: What Did You Learn?

Through a collegiate arc alternating between the clear-cut and the unpredicted, Luke says becoming commencement speaker was the most surprising development. He was happy to be nominated. With nothing but humility, Luke says, “At least my professor cared enough to nominate me.” He didn’t anticipate being selected to represent his class.

Luke is currently working as a long-term substitute teacher in the West Fargo School District as he wraps up the last of his undergraduate courses. Teaching algebra courses, he brings the same enthusiasm and dedication to the classroom that defined his time at MSUM.

Normally, commencement speakers are expected to share profound wisdom or life lessons Who could be more equipped to do so than a budding educator? Luke plans on challenging each graduate to think long and hard about what they learned in their time at MSUM and how to apply it in this period of uncertainty. Like any good teacher, he doesn’t plan on simply sharing the answer to the question posed.

Like his peers, it’s because he’s not entirely sure what the right answer is. He knows he will be a teacher and inspire future learners, but he doesn’t know where or when that first job will come, and that’s alright. Luke will continue to embrace the uncomfortable, just as he learned to do so in his time as a Dragon.

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