Brian Birza, a native of Lake St. Louis, Mo., came to Mizzou to study psychology and earn a minor in business. MU was close to home for him, and he had several friends who were attending. His sister also influenced his decision to attend MU after graduating from the university a few years earlier.

“Looking back, as a freshman, I had no idea how to act on my own or what to do, and being surrounded by more than 30,000 other people in the same position helped ease my mind about how confusing it all was,” Birza said. “It was large enough that I was able to find my niche and has provided me with endless connections and opportunity. Not to mention, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized more and more the benefits Columbia has to offer as a city itself.”

An active member in his fraternity, Birza encourages new students to chase their passions and talk to as many people as they while experiencing various opportunities on campus.

“Starting college can be a tricky thing, knowing so few people in such a big environment, but if you hold true to the values that you have coming in to college, you’ll start to find your community,” Birza said. “For me, that passion was music; I loved music coming into school, and once I got here, I started going to as many concerts as I could, music club meetings and live music events. You never know who you’re going to meet at these places and pursuing my passion is what’s led me to be the owner of an artist management company in my senior year of college.”