Ask Jack Kosowski and Abby Labonte — both Illinois natives and Mizzou sophomores — if they’ve felt homesick since moving to Columbia, and you might get a dismissive shrug or a faraway look as they scan their memories. It’s not that they don’t miss their hometowns and families.

“It’s just that Mizzou is that awesome,” says Kosowski, of Libertyville. “I hear about friends back home going off to school and getting homesick, and I tell them about the different connections and friends I’ve made here.”

Picture of Jack Kosowski answering the phone.

Jack Kosowski answers questions about MU Residential Life while working his on-campus job.

Kosowski and Labonte are both working as conference assistant staff for MU Residential Life in order to gain Missouri residency. That change in residency status can save an out-of-state student more than $15,000 a year. One of the requirements of the process is that out-of-state students earn at least $2,000 of taxable income during a 12-month qualifying period. Their part-time gig — with lodging benefits — fits the bill perfectly.

The job includes checking in guests who stay in the residential halls during summer events (Summer Welcome, youth athletics camps, etc.) and taking visitors on tours of the facilities.

“I chose to give tours of the building I lived in (Johnston) because I knew it like the back of my hand,” says Labonte, an interior design and architecture major. “I’ve really liked staying on campus for the summer. I have a single room with a private bathroom, and because of [Campus Dining Services], I can still cook for myself, but it’s not like I have to cook for myself.”

Abby Labonte helps a student while working the desk at MU Residential Life

Abby Labonte helps a student while working the desk at MU Residential Life.

Her older sister, Alyssa, is a Mizzou senior, so Labonte knew all about Tiger tradition and spirit before she set foot on campus. Now she plays trumpet in Marching Mizzou and volunteers with the Student Recruitment Outreach Team helping with MU enrollment efforts.

“I think my sister thought I was going to love Mizzou only because she did,” Labonte says. “But the moment I joined the outreach team and started wanting to shout it from the rooftops, she practically burst into tears.”

Kosowski’s school spirit runs just as deep. A journalism major and sports nut who hopes to work for KCOU in the coming semesters, he made the most of his Student Season Ticket Combo his freshman year at Memorial Stadium and Mizzou Arena.

“Once I got here, I started to make it home,” Kosowski says. “Then it started to be home. I love Columbia. It has an urban center, college campus, residential areas and rural places. It’s a mix of everything.”