To me, Menomonie and UW-S is like a familiar stranger. I grew up on a farm outside of a small town of about 6,000 in northern Iowa. People wave as you walk or drive by, even if they don't know you, though odds are they either know you or one of your immediate family members. Most of the stores are locally owned. There's a great sense of community and tradition. From what I have been exposed to, Menomonie feels a lot like my hometown, albeit with a few more trees and hills.
I get a similar feeling from UW-S. It's certainly bigger than my campus of Simpson College- we only have about 1400 undergrads and any point on the campus is easily within about ten minutes walking distance from another- but it feels familiar. The professors are wonderful; they are incredibly helpful and care about us, both academically and personally. It's for this exact reason that I wished to attend a small college and I am delighted to find it true of UW-S.
I am primarily hoping for a learning experience in regards to the LAKES REU. As I am entering my senior year of college, I grow ever closer to having to make some pretty significant career decisions. Before choosing whether or not to attend grad school, I wish to see whether I actually enjoy research and, if so, determine which areas I might be interested in further studying. The fact that I can help a great community through my soul-searching is just icing on the cake. I also get to work on a pretty nifty application of mathematics and have the opportunity to explore ways that I can combine my major of math with my minor in computer science. Judging by the last couple of days, I certainly won't be bored! I can't wait to see what this little adventure will bring.