Exchange program life saver for Libyan student

By ALEXANDRA DUBIN/Montana State News

For Rania Ampntel-Chafint, coming to The United States was something she had always known she wanted to do. Born and raised in Benghazi, Libya, Rania is 21 years old and a whopping 5 feet tall. With short dark brown, beautiful, thick hair and piercing brown eyes, she remembers the first time she viewed the mountains when arriving in Bozeman, Montana. She will never forget her excitement as she stepped off the plane.

Rania was randomly assigned to study at Montana State University through a program called Middle Eastern Partnership Initiative (MEPI), a program for North African and Middle Eastern countries. MEPI assigns students to various universities throughout the U.S. to attend school.

In 2011, a revolution erupted in Libya. The president and his government were overthrown and the borders were opened. Three years later, ISIS established a strong presence in the country and turmoil ensued. Airports may as well have been bullseyes for bombs. Even the English Department of Rania’s university was bombed, leaving her nowhere to attend school at the time.

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Happenstance meeting leads to new band

By EMILY FOWLER/Montana State News

I’m standing towards the front of a large crowd at the Filling Station, a local favorite of the Bozeman bar scene. If I tried to stand still, I would be jostled by the crowd dancing and moving around me. Instead, I dance with them, partly because I would fall over if I tried to be stationary, and partly because it’s hard not to. The band onstage has an energy that is infectious.

Their speech is sprinkled with yurt puns. They all own tee-shirts proclaiming themselves “Members of The Steve Buscemi Fan Club.” They are delightfully weird and delightfully talented. They are YURT.

When I first approached the Bozeman-based band to ask them some questions, I was told they’d agree as long as it was conducted in an actual yurt. Although I wasn’t able to find a portable, round tent with a fireplace in the middle, the band eventually came around to meeting at the singer, guitarist and keyboardist Shane Laver’s, house.

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Deployment was life-changing experience

By JARROD PLANT/Montana State News

Drew Irvine remembers vividly the first time he stepped off the airplane on Kandahar Airfield. He took a deep-breath lifting, for a brief moment, the hundred pounds of equipment to weightlessness before it nestled back onto his body. Sweat soaked through his uniform. Irvine had a year to get used to the feeling.

He looked out onto the landscape, an arid desert that housed the second largest airfield of Joint-Coalition forces. It served as the gateway in to the mountains and valleys of Afghanistan where thousands of insurgents lived, armed with AK-47’s and years of experience in war.

On his second day in country, Christmas Eve, the insurgents gift wrapped a present for the countries newest guests. Missiles rained indiscriminately down onto the base. Irvine and some of the other guys were smoking hookah outside of the transient tent.

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Fate leads business grad to higher calling

By BRITTANY WALLACE/Montana State News

The future isn’t always what you expect. Sometimes, it’s so much better. Such is the case for Christel Chvilicek, the grants and sponsorship manager at the Central Asia Institute, a nonprofit that works to bring education to children around the world, especially where no other education options are available.

Chvilivek works in their development office here in Bozeman, heading up grant sponsorships and major donations. It’s her job to acquire and manage funds for the institute.

Christel’s passion for the cause shines through when she talks about the importance of their work. She speaks of the options opened up by education; the opportunities children have when they get to choose their own futures, without necessarily having to follow a family tradition, or in simply achieving more than what’s expected of them.

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For entrepreneur, business is a lifestyle

By SARA SAXTON/Montana State News

Starting a business takes dedication, commitment and a willingness to take on risk. Starting one successful business can be the accomplishment of a person’s lifetime. Kait Costanti, who is just shy of 30 years old, has already opened and successfully run two businesses. No project is left half done and she always puts ability, passion and hard work into her endeavors.

She opened Pure Barre in 2012 after moving to Bozeman. Pure Barre is a workout studio that incorporates the ballet barre into a workout using small movements to tone specific parts of the body, according to the Pure Barre website.

After she had owned and run Pure Barre for a little while, Costanti decided to sell it and move on to different things that inspired her. Her path directed her to wedding planning where she was first influenced by planning her own wedding.

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For hockey lover, coaching was next logical step

By ROSS SELLERS/Montana State News

Hockey is gritty; anyone who’s been to a hockey game knows that, so perhaps the personalities that surround it should fit the mold, and they often do.

As the head coach of the Bozeman Icedogs, a North American Tier III Hockey League team (NA3HL), Mark Vichorek understands Hockey isn’t just about aggression, it’s a sport built on respect.

“I think it is very important that this position holds a great amount of leadership and respect to teach and pass on to my players,” he said.

His office is located at Hayne’s Pavillion, and offers warm relief from the surrounding cold that inhabits the skating rink. Although small, his office feels cozy and lived in.  The whiteboard behind his desk is littered with humorous phrases along with a calendar sporting a variety of women in bikinis.

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ROTC student breaking new ground for family

By MIKAL OVERTURF/Montana State News

Kyle Schuster is the first member of his immediate family to attend a four-year university and has overcome several obstacles to get to where he is today. Strapping on combat boots is one way in which this Montana State University senior has expanded his college education.

Originally from Sutter, California, Schuster came to MSU to pursue a degree in Business Marketing after discovering a knack for it while still in high school.

However, he felt like his higher education was still lacking something. When he attended his brother’s Air Force graduation, this inspired him to join the ROTC.

“Making a difference in an organization much bigger than myself,” is what Schuster said is his largest motivation and greatest triumph.

Joining the Air Force ROTC is an experience he says he came into “blind,” and it was not at all what he expected. It was much more, in that he was able to gain insights through the mentorship of his peers and leaders.

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Former sniper turns family man after deployment

By TYLER WORTHEN/Montana State News

Mike Byrne, is a former sniper turned family man. Byrne, who grew up in Butte, Montana (now living in Bozeman) is one of the most humble men you could ever talk to, be able to call an acquaintance or a friend. Knowing Byrne for the past two and a half years has brought so much real world knowledge and great stories to my own life.

If you look at Byrne, you will notice that he is very physically built (being in a military job like his for 19 years will do that to you). He looks like a man who never leaves the gym and well he doesn’t. The look in his eyes can bring fear to your inner being, deep in your soul.

When Byrne was 17 years old he decided to join the Army and get into the 75th Ranger Regiment; he joined in part due to his family being very rich in military service. When your family serves; you want to serve. That is exactly what Byrne did.  The 75th Ranger Regiment was the only area in the services that would guarantee a slot to try out for a Special Operations Group.

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Nurse moonlights helping in mental health crises

By ANNIE WASSAN/Montana State News

Sara Gothard comes home at 11:30 p.m. in her scrubs. She has just finished a shift at Hope House in Bozeman, and she is the on call nurse for the establishment.

She started working at Hope House in October 2016. According to Gothard, “Hope House is a place for people to go who are experiencing a mental health crisis.” She gets called in two to three times a week when someone needs psychiatric stabilization. She also has a full time job as a registered nurse at Bozeman Deaconess Health.

Hope House is part of the Gallatin Mental Health Center. According to their website, their mission is “to assist individuals and communities with the challenges of mental health, substance use and co-occurring disorders to achieve their highest quality of life.”

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Natural talent can’t stay away from football

By JACK SEEGER/Montana State News

Every once in awhile, an athlete demonstrates such natural talent that coaches from thousands of miles away offer them a spot on the team. It’s no surprise that only a very elite few get the opportunity to walk on to any football team, and Montana State University is no exception.  However, Californian Jahan Asadi is prepared to take the plunge into becoming one of the proudest things a Montanan can be: a Bobcat.

As rare as this opportunity may be, sophomore Asadi is on the path to joining the elite after being invited to attend fall tryouts following an impressive return to the sport that he loves.  After presenting himself to the MSU coaching staff last week, Asadi was invited to partake in summer tryouts, and is “excited to receive the opportunity to play football again.”

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