Positive Stories

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The Blue Zookeeper

Aren’t gut feelings the craziest things? 

And I’m not talking about the kind that makes you dare to wait in the Chick-fil-A line during peak lunch hour in the KUC. I’m talking about those feelings you get where you think you know the correct decision, but you have no idea how to explain why it’s the right one.

I had a gut feeling that led to me attending Middle Tennessee State University.

In the spring of my senior year of high school, I wasn’t exactly sure where I wanted to go to school. I knew I needed to get my degree, I knew that time was running out, but I also knew that I didn’t have a steady stream of scholarship offers like some of my friends had.

Translation: I wasn’t a very good student in high school. I was a frequent recipient of the “If you’d apply yourself and put more effort into school, you’d be an amazing student!” speeches. I was determined to put that advice into action in college, but I still had a big decision to make. 

Back to the gut feeling. I had the option to attend community college for free, where I could then transfer to a four-year university on a scholarship if I did well. It would have been the easy route, and perhaps the best route for a lot of people, but I didn’t like it. I wanted to invest heavily in myself from the beginning and immerse myself in the college experience.

I had heard of and occasionally visited MTSU when I lived in Murfreesboro very briefly as a kid due to my dad's job. As I grew older, I would notice MTSU in the news for something incredible they’ve done. Their Aerospace program, their Recording Industry program and so many other nationally successful university initiatives were being recognized. 

During that decision period of Spring 2016, the Blue Raider Men’s Basketball team upset Michigan State in March Madness. They were massive underdogs, and they shocked the nation. In fact, every story about MTSU reflected the notion that they were underdogs.

That is where my decision to attend this great school came from: It is an underdog school that continuously defies the odds. At the time, I considered myself an underdog; could I defy the odds the same way?

To cut to the end of the story, I certainly tried my best to leave my mark on campus. The greatest thing I did during my four years at MTSU was relaunching the MTSU Blue Zoo, a student organization dedicated to building support for our athletics program. We’d sit together at games and get a little rowdy as we cheered the Blue Raiders onto victory.

Kobe Hermann, president of the Blue Zoo, the newly revived student pep group at MTSU, speaks to the more than 300 students assembled Tuesday, Aug. 13, at Floyd Stadium to unfurl the organization’s banner for the first time. (MTSU Photo by Andy Heidt)Kobe Hermann, president of the Blue Zoo, the newly revived student pep group at MTSU, speaks to the more than 300 students assembled Tuesday, Aug. 13, at Floyd Stadium to unfurl the organization’s banner for the first time. (MTSU Photo by Andy Heidt)

From an idea I had after looking at a less-than-inspiring student section for three years, came a leadership experience that resulted in the recruitment of 600-plus student members and momentum to keep building the organization for years to come.

These sorts of opportunities are available to any student who calls themself a Blue Raider. You just need to get involved and build your network as quickly as you can.

From the start, I worked hard to get involved on campus in any way possible. I joined student organizations, hung out with people in my dorm, and took advantage of some great volunteer opportunities. 

My first leadership experience was with the Student Government Association, where I was accepted into the Freshman Council and worked to connect with fellow students to improve campus. I highly recommend this as a starting place on your journey at MTSU. You learn so much about the history of the school, work with administrators, and meet so many students.

MTSU freshman English major Allison Lupear of Murfreesboro, left, looks over voter registration information Sept. 21 with junior business management major Kobe Hermann of Chattanooga during the final day of MTSU's Constitution Week voter registration drive. Hermann, an at-large senator in the university's Student Government Association, joined other SGA members to staff a voter registration tent at the Paul W. Martin Honors Building near the Student Union. Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett briefly joined the student volunteers to help citizens on campus register to vote and check or update their voter registration information. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU freshman English major Allison Lupear of Murfreesboro, left, looks over voter registration information Sept. 21 with junior business management major Kobe Hermann of Chattanooga during the final day of MTSU's Constitution Week voter registration drive. Hermann, an at-large senator in the university's Student Government Association, joined other SGA members to staff a voter registration tent at the Paul W. Martin Honors Building near the Student Union. Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett briefly joined the student volunteers to help citizens on campus register to vote and check or update their voter registration information. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)

One thing that I discovered through SGA is the number of stories you’ll hear by getting to know your classmates, getting involved around campus, and joining student organizations. 

MTSU is home to a campus of over 20,000 people, each with a unique background and story. These stories have been the driving force for me doing exactly this - writing articles for the Student Voice.

If you don’t stop and take advantage of being around such a diverse group of people and take part in everything this campus has to offer, you’re missing out. That’s why I’m here, that’s why I write for this platform. Everyone has a story to be heard, and I love helping spread the word.

My hope is that you’ve found at least one or two of my articles to be interesting, helpful, or at least entertaining enough to make you exhale out of your nose. Keep grinding, stay positive, and cheer on the Blue Raiders.

Kobe out!

Student workers in the Office of Marketing & Communications sitting at desks with computers in front of them producing lifestyle blog content for the MTSU Student Voice. Photo: John GoodwinStudent workers in the Office of Marketing & Communications producing lifestyle blog content for the MTSU Student Voice. Left to Right: Stephen Smith, Joe Poe, Angele Latham, Kobe Hermann. (Photo: John Goodwin)

Author Kobe Hermann is a senior at MTSU, majoring in management in the Jones College of Business and minoring in economics and business administration. The views and opinions expressed above are his own.