MURRAY, Ky. — For Rachel Brown, family is everything. And at Murray State University, the middle school education major from Newburgh, Indiana, found just that: a second family that merged perfectly with the first.

“Murray State radiated friendliness, and I couldn’t see myself going anywhere else,” Brown recalled thinking after her first campus tour. “Family is something that is extremely close to my heart, and I could find myself finding a second home here.”

It is for that reason that Family Weekend is among her favorite University traditions. Each fall semester, her family would pay a visit to campus for the annual event: eating together at the family picnic, touring the campus and cheering on the Racer football team in the evening.

“It is such a refreshing time for me because of how close my family is,” Brown said. “I always looked forward to showing them a snapshot of my life at college and sharing that with them.”

Family Weekend also offered a number of memories and stories for the family to reflect back on. In fact, during one of those Family Weekend visits, Brown’s older sister wore a t-shirt representing another university. When they ultimately crossed paths with Murray State President Bob Davies in the Curris Center, Davies decided to do something about the shirt. He walked into the University Bookstore, purchased a Murray State t-shirt and handed it over to Brown’s sister. It was a moment that stuck with the family.

“This will always be one of my favorite traditions at Murray State,” Brown said.

Murray State was also an opportunity for Brown to push herself and test her limits — to go outside her comfort zone and do things she had never imagined before.

That journey began with Racer 101 and Great Beginnings.

“Not only did these functions help me transition into my life at college, but they also introduced me to many wonderful friends,” Brown said. “I would later go on to become a Racer 101 counselor and Great Beginnings leader myself in 2016. Being the older student and welcoming the incoming freshmen gave me a fresh perspective.”

Over the course of her four years at the University, Brown participated in a number of activities and organizations, ranging from the Murray State Middle Level Association and Baptist Campus Ministries to Sock n’ Buskin and Alpha Upsilon Alpha. She was part of five theatre productions, performed in All Campus Sing and worked in the University’s Graduation Office. She also pursued education abroad opportunities in London and Dublin.

“Through all these different activities and organizations, I have found a home in Murray State and have been blessed to meet an abundance of amazing people that will forever be a second family to me,” Brown said. “The opportunities for involvement are endless and the surrounding community supports the students. Murray truly is a home away from home. And, if you let it, it will change your life.”

Now, on the cusp of graduation, Brown said she feels ready for what the future holds for her — a credit to her professors, she added. Whether it was her extended practicum with Dr. Miguel Gomez and her reading classes with Rhonda Roberts or economics and astronomy with Todd Broker and Dr. Joshua Ridley, respectively, Brown witnessed an enthusiasm for the subjects at hand that was contagious.

“The biggest reason these were some of the best classes I took here at Murray State was because the professors loved teaching so much that they made me love learning,” Brown said.

A few months after Brown crosses the stage during the commencement ceremony, she and her husband Cameron will depart for Orlando, Florida, to spend six months in the Disney College Program. Upon their return, Cameron, who also graduates from Murray State in May, will begin attending medical school, while Brown will begin substitute teaching before finding a permanent job in fall 2019.

“Being a student here at Murray State has helped me mature in more ways than I could talk about,” Brown said. “I have been exposed to many different viewpoints and perspectives on lives that have helped me shape and better understand my own world view. And, most importantly, I have learned to take my life day by day but also to live it to the fullest.”

Commencement services at Murray State will take place May 12 in the CFSB Center with an undergraduate ceremony at 9 a.m. and a graduate and doctoral ceremony at 2 p.m. Tickets will not be required for either ceremony. Use #RacerGraduation on social media to share the commencement experience. Additional information is available at murraystate.edu/commencement.

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