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As an alumnus of the University of Montana, I often encounter fellow Grizzlies hard at work in the Billings area. I mention this because Montana students now need our help. Current economic troubles have trickled down all the way to the classroom. Students who rely on privately funded scholarships to stay in school are at risk. In fact, because scholarship needs stretch well beyond what is currently funded, at least 1,000 UM students may find their education interrupted or discontinued.

If a UM student does not have enough money to stay in school, you may ask, why is this my problem? Perhaps there will be one less great teacher at your granddaughter's school or one less researcher working toward a cure for cancer. We are all connected by the success of our state's students. When a Montana athlete makes it to the national scene, whether you are a Grizzly, a Bobcat, a Yellowjacket or a Bear, we all share a common pride. And when a Montana student achieves success, that same pride reverberates from Ekalaka to Eureka.

I have been around long enough to have experienced Montanans at their best as well as when things seem to be at their worst. When times get tough, Montanans help each other. The University of Montana has initiated a funding program to ensure students stay on track to success. To learn how you can help, call the University of Montana Foundation at 406-243-2593. Thanks, Billings, for your support.

James A. Mariska

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