While we labor to create the rest of our lives here, the Mississippi River beats incessantly against the concrete shoes of the Washington Avenue Bridge. While I stress about making that critical friend group, the leaves begin their slow, fiery explosion of color. While the pages of my sociology textbook yearn for my eyeballs, Ospreys plunge steeply into the depths of the river for fish. The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, a unit of the National Parks System (NPS), bisects our campus and is critical to the University of Minnesota.
I’ve sat in the bed of my friend’s pickup, looking up at the eternal glow of the midnight stars, as he hurtled the little Ford around S-shaped Northern Minnesotan roads. I’ve watched a man propose to his girlfriend in the observation deck of the Prospect Park Witch’s Hat Tower, a beautiful foreground to the orange sun, setting over the grey flour mills of Minneapolis. However, there is something that makes the University of Minnesota distinctive to these special places of mine: it is where the future of Minnesota begins.