Georgia Southern had N.D. student after allGeorgia Southern has its North Dakotan. They had him all along, and it’s not like he was hiding or skipping class. “He lives right on campus, in a fraternity house, and he has North Dakota plates on his car,” said Mary Koponen, a resident of Grand Forks and mother of Jacob, 19, a student in Georgia Southern University’s nursing program.
By: By Chuck Haga , Forum Communications Co. , The Jamestown Sun
Georgia Southern has its North Dakotan.
They had him all along, and it’s not like he was hiding or skipping class.
“He lives right on campus, in a fraternity house, and he has North Dakota plates on his car,” said Mary Koponen, a resident of Grand Forks and mother of Jacob, 19, a student in Georgia Southern University’s nursing program.
The university, in Statesboro, Ga., claims more than 15,000 students. But when a recent review of enrollment indicated the school had students from every state but North Dakota, Georgia Southern marketers and recruiters were directed to beat the bushes from Bathgate to Beach.
The challenge went out via Twitter: “Georgia Southern has students from every state but North Dakota. Let’s get one!”
The school’s lack was featured on the front page of Wednesday’s Herald, which surprised Mark and Mary Koponen, who went right to Jacob’s Facebook page — which lists Grand Forks as his “current city” — to make sure he was still in Statesboro.
“His friends in Georgia were already ribbing him,” Mary Koponen said.
She figures she knows how her son’s North Dakota connection was overlooked. It’s fairly new.
Mom and Dad are native North Dakotans — Mark grew up in Minot, Mary in Esmond — and both earned graduate degrees at UND in 1986. Mark, a forensics pathologist, worked in New Mexico and Atlanta before coming to Grand Forks last May to teach in UND’s School of Medicine.
Mary Koponen worked as a medical technician for 20 years and is semi-retired.
Jacob was born in New Mexico and has lived most of his life in Georgia, but he spent last summer in Grand Forks and plans to return this summer.
“He may bring some friends from Georgia along because the economy is so bad there,” his mother said. “His friends can’t believe it when he tells them about all the jobs here.”
Jacob worked as a Little League umpire in East Grand Forks and in a Valley Dairy store in Grand Forks last year.
The Koponens also have a daughter, Anna, 10, a student at Sacred Heart School.
“It’s great to live in a place like North Dakota,” Mary Koponen said. “Being back has brought back a lot of memories. It’s nice to move around and see other cultures, too. I really love that.
“But I had forgotten what 35 degrees below zero feels like.”
Jacob still has that ahead of him.
Chuck Haga is a report at The Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald, which is owned by
Forum Communications Co.