Coming to college can be difficult. Coming to college from another city or state is even harder. You leave your friends, family, coworkers and everything familiar to you.
Bryan Paige, a December 2018 Missouri State graduate, knows that struggle. From Kansas City, Missouri, Paige wanted to go somewhere he knew he would love and stay close to his family.
He came to Missouri State to visit his cousin, and of all the places he looked, this felt the most like home.
He’s spent the past few years making Springfield home, but he’s ready to move to his new home in California.
A minor setback
For the first few months, Paige was doing well. Then his grades slipped. His motivation was waning. He was on the verge of getting kicked out. He talked to Susan Martindale, an academic adviser. She agreed to give him a second chance.
“I wouldn’t be in Springfield without Susan Martindale,” Paige said. “My freshman year I came through the Jump START program. That year was rocky, and she put her faith in me. She let me stay for another semester.”
Jump START is a program for students who do not meet admission requirements. They spend the summer taking classes with more support.
The second chance wasn’t quite enough. After another hard semester, Paige couldn’t maintain the GPA required to stay at Missouri State.
This isn’t the end of Paige’s story; it’s only the beginning.
Getting back to Missouri State
Paige worked hard at Ozarks Technical Community College. After two and a half years getting his general education credits, Missouri State readmitted him.
“If Susan hadn’t given me the chance, it would have been straight back home,” Paige said. “I don’t know if I would have gone to community college and come back if it wasn’t for her.”
There was one difference when Paige came back to Missouri State: This time he thrived.
He needed to find a career. After a few recommendations from friends, he started taking hospitality leadership classes. That was the right fit.
“I love the smaller classes and how they push you,” Paige said. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. They make sure you pass out a resume to several people at career fairs so you’re not wasting companies’ time or the teacher’s time. Then you get caught up talking to teachers and employers and the time passes by.”
One thing that kept Paige coming back to Missouri State was the people who believed in him.
Paige is vice president of Bridge Springfield Brother to Brother. It’s a group that works to keep retention rates for minorities higher. It’s student run, and they work with many people in the community.
“When I came to Missouri State, I was pretty antisocial, and Brother to Brother was the support system that I needed,” Paige said. “Ms. Francine Pratt is like a second mother. I get to go to her house, and she cooks us Thanksgiving dinner. The guys that are in it with me, a lot of them are from Springfield, so I’ve been with them, too.”
“I haven’t always had a ride to Kansas City or had to work during the holidays,” Paige added. “Instead of going home, I had friends that treated me like family and let me in to their homes.”
Brother to Brother gave Paige community, but it also gave him new skills and networking opportunities.
“I like watching us grow over the years. I started out shy. I practiced speaking in front of Brother to Brother, and it boosted my confidence,” Paige said. “We’ve presented at Chamber of Commerce, Good Morning Springfield, and Ms. Francine takes us to a lot of events like the Big 100.”
Last summer, he spent a summer in Colorado interning at Pizzeria 8852’ where he worked with students from across the globe.
Paige is going to San Francisco, California, where a job awaits him at Hotel Nikko. He’s going to be a manager-in-training.
“I’ll cycle through all the departments. At the end of the nine-month program, they will place me in the top three positions I choose or the top three they think I best fit,” Paige said.
Hotel Nikko came to Missouri State to recruit.
“I interviewed with them, and they said I wowed them,” Paige said. “Opportunities keep falling into my lap, and I’m going to roll with it.”