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Montana Western Student Profile: Mackenzie Hairston

December 22, 2020

Mackenzie Hairston is a sophomore from Great Falls, Mont., majoring in Biology and Secondary Education.

Hairston first learned about Montana Western from the teachers in her high school. After researching the university, Hairston was impressed by UMW’s well-known education program and the affordability of tuition and decided to apply.

Since arriving at UMW, Hairston has enjoyed the unique block schedule and Experience One approach to learning. With Experience One, students at Montana Western take one course at a time for 18 days, take a short break, and then move on to their next course. By utilizing block scheduling combined with immersive learning, UMW is the only public four-year university in the country to employ this model that is focused on student success. Experience One has allowed Hairston to learn in the classroom as well in the field, gaining real-world experience in both Biology and Education.

“I really enjoy the hands-on and outdoor experiences I’ve had with Experience One. Being able to get out in the field and learn by actively doing feels like a huge advantage. The beautiful landscape of the Dillon area is just a bonus,” Hairston said.

The small class sizes and sense of community at UMW have allowed Hairston to thrive by making friends and establishing relationships with both her peers and professors. Hairston has also enjoyed the many extracurricular activities and events the campus has to offer. She actively participates in Terra Verde, Gamers of the Gathering and Trap Shooting clubs as well as volunteering at the local animal shelter.

After graduation, Hairston is still deciding on whether to attend graduate school to pursue a career in Biotechnology or go straight into teaching at the high school level. Whatever path Hairston chooses, she’s confident that UMW will give her the tools she needs to succeed.

For more information about Experience One and the University of Montana Western, or to schedule a visit, call 877-683-7331 or visit