Michelle Ebel
Murfreesboro, TN

I'm Michelle Ebel and I'm one of Tennessee's Best.

I came to MTSU because I was offered an incredible scholarship package that no other school could match. While there were plenty of other schools closer to home, none of them offered me both the financial and educational benefits that MTSU did.

I will be graduating May 2011 with a degree in Accounting. I cannot say enough good things about MTSU's Jennings A. Jones Business College. They provide a great education as well as an excellent job placement program. Despite the recession that has impacted us all in some way, MTSU has helped me land a full-time job as an auditor beginning next August. Time has certainly flown by since that first day of college. It does not seem like four years have lapsed since I first began my journey here. People often ask me how a girl from East Tennessee ended up in Murfreesboro, and I thought I would share it with all of you.

I'm a Buchanan Fellow. Offered to just 20 high-achieving incoming freshmen a year, the Buchanan Fellowship is both a special honors scholarship and education program. We are chosen based on several factors—our application essay, ACT scores (they have to be at least a 29), and high school GPA (3.5 or higher). We receive a full-tuition waiver in addition to a thousand-dollar book allowance for each of our four years here. The Fellowship, in conjunction with the University Honors College, offers an excellent undergraduate education and ultimately culminates in a thesis project our senior year. It is certainly an unparalleled education. To maintain the scholarship, we have to retain a 3.25 GPA in addition to earning a certain amount of honors points each semester. We earn these points by volunteering to work or attending various activities, functions, or presentations hosted by the Honors College.

I know I am very lucky to have been chosen for this prestigious award, and I feel very blessed to be a part of the fellowship. While friends of mine at other schools may be paying for their education for many years after they graduate, MTSU undoubtedly presented me with a great opportunity—the chance to go to school for free. Having waited tables all through high school, not having to work through college is a blessing for which I am truly grateful. I can now spend my time on my education.

As Buchanan Fellows, we are a part of the University Honors College. Honors classes are limited to 20 students and are therefore smaller and more concentrated than standard classes; this allows us to really personalize our education. I definitely feel as if I know my professors better and that they know me.

While the Fellowship undeniably made my decision to attend easy, I was already leaning toward MTSU. I had taken two campus tours before I ever applied. I came my junior year with a friend and really wasn't too interested in coming here myself. I thought I would give some moral support to my friend though, and once here I was really impressed with the campus. I liked it so well, that I was back again for a tour my senior year—this time having recruited three of my other friends to come with me. The campus is beautiful. You have to see it for yourself.

From my CUSTOMS experience on, I felt as if I belonged at MTSU. I came to CUSTOMS not knowing anyone. I had to drive myself from Jefferson County and stay overnight in the dorm. The girl I roomed with those nights actually ended up being in my communications class one semester, which is pretty neat. To be a part of a campus with 26,430 students and know several people in class is definitely a great thing. It's easy to make friends here, and I know that I do have a place among thousands of students. Whether it's homework help or wanting someone to hang out with, I know that there is always someone I can call.

Being involved on campus also helped me meet a lot of new people. I belong to Raiders for Christ. I knew that I wanted to join an organization like theirs but didn't really know where to begin. At the first RFC event of the year, however, I ran into one of the other Buchanan Fellows and it all sort of fell together. I felt as if I belonged there. And since I joined, I have gone on a mission trip to Chicago and recruiting trip to Chattanooga and have started to attend a local church here in Murfreesboro. I really think it keeps me pretty centered. Everyone I have come in contact with who has made a connection to the school through some kind of campus involvement loves it here.

MTSU no doubt has all the benefits of a large university—24-hour computer help, specialized advisors and counselors; really anything you need is right on campus. But you are also not going to get lost in the crowd. You can get involved in an almost unlimited number of student organizations, live in a residence hall where friends become like family, or take part in intramural sports. I love the campus—everything is centralized and within walking distance. You don't have to walk up a hill or get in your car to drive to class. When I was younger and pictured going to a campus, I pictured it like this.

I hope you'll join me—MTSU will be the college of your dreams, too.