FierkeLepp got the most from UMN Morris in under three years

Sue Dieter

A nudge from her mom and a campus visit was what got Paris FierkeLepp ‘24, Alborn, to enroll at the University of Minnesota Morris. Once she arrived, her adviser and her own ambition led to her earn her bachelor’s degree in sport management in under three years.

As a senior in high school, FierkeLepp had no idea where Morris was. Likewise, she had no idea that sport management was a major. “Just randomly, out of the blue, my mom mentioned Morris. I wasn't aware that there was any other campus [for the University of Minnesota] than Twin Cities and Duluth.”

She scoured the UMN Morris website and found the small class sizes and rural location were appealing. 

“It's far enough away from home, which was a big thing for me. I wanted to not be able to come home on the weekends, but I would be able to if there was an emergency.”

She grew up in Alborn, north of Duluth, and took advantage of Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) and College in the Schools opportunities. That meant she had two years’ worth of college credits by the time she arrived in Morris.  

“I got most of the general education requirements out of the way, so I could really step into the sport management classes.” 

FierkeLepp had another instance of serendipity upon her arrival to campus. 

“I think it was my first day here. I talked to Ella Van Kempen [a student worker and Cougar women’s basketball player] in the bookstore and told her that I'm interested in maybe playing on the Cougar basketball team. She gave me the coach's numbers and I talked to Coach [Tim] Grove, and then I was scrimmaging with the team. Next thing I knew, I was putting on a Morris uniform. It was fun!”

 FierkeLepp says her adviser, Andrew Hao, was “just an amazing part of my success here. Certainly, Matt Johnson [athletic director] and Marcus Muller [registrar] were really supportive and helpful. I can talk about that forever, that's one of my favorite parts of being here. We talk about the Cougar family a lot in Cougar athletics and it really, truly is just one big family. I know that I could call any of them for anything or if I had a question, no matter how dumb I think it is.”

FierkeLepp feels like UMN Morris was a perfect fit in all aspects of her undergraduate experience. 

“I think the university just knocks it out of the park in terms of having things to do–going to plays, activities over the weekends. There's always something.”

Even though her time as a student was shorter than average, FierkeLepp can’t think of anything that she has missed out on. 

“I did the things that I wanted to do, because I went in with the mindset that I want to get the most out of however long I have here.”