Isabel Moughamian is originally from Idaho City, Idaho. Now based in Montana, she shares her art and adventures on @i.moughamian.art.
“I don’t think we are consciously aware of our heritage day to day, but I believe it’s important to know whose legacy carried us this far, and live in a way that honors their grit and sacrifice.”
Isabel Moughamian, a 2020 graduate, certainly lives up to this statement. In her profession as a fine artist, Isabel is passionate about creating art to share, and involving others in the process through engagement, collaboration, and cultivation.
An avid fan of the outdoors, she is inspired by nature; specifically the bloom, hatch, whitening, and decay of organisms. She also takes inspiration from riverkeepers and those around her that are stewards of nature, and continually teach her to do the same.
“My artwork is solely nature inspired. I render fish in my artwork to call attention to the health of local river systems, angler impact, native trout, and insect hatches. The river is a place of solace for many, and sharing that imagery, hopefully, brings the mind back to those moments of excitement or calm.”
Initially choosing Montana Western for the pre-art therapy option within the visual arts program, Isabel leaned into psychology after her first course. Enjoying the combination of both disciplines so much, she decided to pursue a double major.
“Western is a wonderful school with students from various minority backgrounds. It is important to engage everyone in Black History Month, and take advantage of any opportunity to show minority students–and all students–that we are a group that recognizes and honors the history of all.”
She encourages current students to use the resources provided by the university, keep asking hard questions, and stay passionate about being the difference they would like to see.
Brandon Hunter is a 2020 graduate of Montana Western. After graduation, he completed his MBA at the University of Nevada, Reno.
“My dad always said, ‘your education is one thing that no one can ever take away from you.’”
Brandon Hunter knew that after high school, he needed to continue his education. To do so, he decided to pursue attaining a degree.
“Although people can continue their education in various ways, for me getting a degree was the best demonstration of accomplishment for my near future. Continuing my education through college was going to be a place to spend my time accomplishing, failing, and learning at a younger age, with people and experiences I would never forget.”
As it turns out, that is precisely what happened. During his time at Montana Western, Brandon completed a business degree, two minors, and participated in multiple clubs- all while being a member of the football team.
“Growing up, I’ve always been into sports, acting, and to some degree, the economics of things. This has led me to chosen fields of study and my interests today. Being a part of the football team, the clubs on campus, and being involved with plays/theatre, meant I was never bored. Most don’t realize that being a part of these groups can lead one to meet friends for life and explore new passions they never would have thought of on their own.”
Brandon’s goals and passions are inspired by his parents, who laid the foundation for him to build on. He also takes inspiration from the intentions of those that publicly step up and go out of their way to make a difference, despite the obstacles. His inspiration transposes to appreciation for his heritage and the importance of engaging communities in Black History Month.
“Whether you are part of it by blood or not, the role of Blacks in the country’s history is a crucial piece and contribution to the evolving landscape of our country. Black History Month pays tribute to all the amazing people who have come before us of the descent.”
Keke Davis is a freshman from Missoula, Montana. She is majoring in business, and intends on continuing her education through graduate school. Wanting to become the best version of herself possible, she knew that pursuing higher education would take her further in life.
Keke is passionate about spreading kindness through charity work, promoting Black excellence, and helping other minorities overcome social hindrances. Her positive and caring outlook on life is heavily inspired by her mom.
“She’s the type of person to boost others’ confidence and always be nice. She has a forgive-and-forget mentality, and truly wants the best for everyone.”
Growing up with that mentality, Keke quickly learned that the best way to make a difference is to go in with an open mind and be understanding. To others looking at making an impact, she says “have the brightest, most positive attitude—that will lead to the best outcome.”
A member of the women’s basketball team, Keke’s busy schedule as a student-athlete has helped her learn how to overcome adversity.
“Being a student-athlete pushes you to be the best, and strongest, you can be on and off the court. No matter what, you have a team and are part of a family.”
With her positive outlook and team-based mentality, Keke believes that engaging the campus community in Black History Month is integral in helping people understand who they are and creating an inclusive environment.
“It’s helpful to know where Black people come from to understand where they are now. Learning about different cultures is a cool way to see how, and why, others work the way that they do. It promotes learning to accept and spread equality,” she said.
Goodson Dzenga was born and raised in Zimbabwe, Africa. He started teaching at Montana Western as an Assistant Professor of Education in August 2022.
When asked what words of advice he would give his younger self, he said, “your purpose in life is not defined by your background or paycheck. You should not give up in difficult situations. Always be in control of your situation. You are rich not because of what you have, but what you can do without money.”
As a special education teacher, Goodson has dedicated his career to improving the social, academic, and employment outcomes of children with disabilities. He believes that with the necessary support, those with disabilities can fully participate and contribute to their communities.
“I am passionate about seeing individuals with disabilities access services and support so that they unlock their full potential. They should not give people ownership of how they view them.”
His passion for his field, and his outlook in life, are inspired by his late mother. “She was so loving, hardworking, and prayerful. She sacrificed everything she had to make me achieve my goal.”
Goodson now shares his passion and inspiration with students in the Education Department, teaching special education classes, educational psychology classes, as well as an assortment of other courses. He believes it is important to appreciate and encourage diversity, promote tolerance, and embrace each other’s uniqueness. To him, it is important to celebrate one’s heritage to create an awareness of individual uniqueness, which should be celebrated—not shunned.
“People should not be a photocopy of other people but they should be proud of what they are and promote their culture and views.”
For students looking to make a difference, Goodson advises that they stay focused.
“There are endless arrays of possibilities. There are many distractions in life. We have one life to live and one life to give. Be careful not to be pulled in the wrong direction.”
James Aragon is a senior from Spokane, Washington. He will be graduating this semester with a degree in physical education. Change starts with one person, which is why he decided to be the first person in his family to pursue a college degree.
James chose Montana Western as the school to pursue his educational goals, while playing college football.
“Being a member of the football team has shaped my experience in so many ways… it’s something that’s mentally and physically challenging. If it were easy everyone would do it, but it doesn’t work like that. I’ve made amazing friends, thanks to the huge opportunity given by Coach Norse to play football at Western for the past six years. From football games, winter condo, and summer workouts, you fight with your brothers to get to your goal of being a champion, and of being a finisher.”
A champion on and off the field, James is a strong believer in celebrating Black excellence. Celebrating one’s heritage provides opportunities for people to understand more about others while learning about prevalent issues.