UM earns ‘Gold’ military-friendly designation

UM News Service

Kyle Brekke admits feeling lost when he first found Missoula.

A Minnesota native, Brekke kicked off his senior year of high school by signing up for the U.S. Marines. During five subsequent years in the infantry, he was stationed in Hawaii and deployed to Hong Kong, the Philippines, Korea and Japan. Afterwards he bounced around colleges in California, becoming an unhappy economics major.

“It was a weird stage in my life,” the veteran said. “I kind of dropped out. Then COVID hit.”

Brekke decided to return to Minnesota. He had always found solace in the outdoors, so he and his pickup camper took a circuitous, soul-searching route home that passed through Missoula. A friend showed him around town, and he walked across the University of Montana campus beneath looming Mount Sentinel.

“It felt right,” he said. “I was thinking about a forestry degree, and as soon as I got back to Minnesota, I applied.”

Brekke isn’t alone. More than 1,400 military-affiliated students attend UM, which this year earned a Gold ranking for being a Military Friendly School from He learned right away why UM earned the designation.

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