Sebeka, Minn. student named 2013 Minnesota Vikings and ‘UND & Me’ scholarship winner at last football game in Metrodome

Minnesota Vikings mascot Ragnar chats with MacKenzie Cochran, the newest winner of the Minnesota Vikings and 'UND & Me' $10,000 scholarship, before the start of Sunday’s football game at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis.

Minnesota Vikings mascot Ragnar chats with MacKenzie Cochran, the newest winner of the Minnesota Vikings and ‘UND & Me’ $10,000 scholarship, before the start of Sunday’s football game at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis.

It was the end of an era at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis Sunday, but for MacKenzie Cochran, who was at the dome, it was all about beginning her college career at the University of North Dakota.

Cochran, a senior at Sebeka (Minn.) Public School, has been named the 2013 Minnesota Vikings and ‘UND & Me’ winner of a $10,000 scholarship to attend UND. She and her family were in Minneapolis for Sunday’s Vikings game at the Metrodome, which is slated to be the last football game ever to be played in the storied Twin Cities facility.

While there, Cochran was given a check on the Mall of America Field turf by retired Vikings great and former UND standout player Jim Kleinsasser.

Cochran plans to major in atmospheric sciences at UND.

“I had just finished my first-ever visit to UND and was just about to open the door of my car to leave when I got the news,” said Cochran, a National Honor Society member whose favorite subjects are chemistry, physics and mathematics. “I was so excited— I couldn’t stop smiling, and it just felt unreal. I was excited to tell my family.

“This scholarship is terrific for me because it will go towards tuition. It takes a big load off my mind.”

(Right) MacKenzie Cochran, the newest winner of the Minnesota Vikings and 'UND & Me' winner of a $10,000 scholarship, holds her check with former UND and Minnesota Vikings standout Jim Kleinsasser before the start of Sunday’s football game at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis. Carter Kleinsasser (left), Jimmy’s son, helps out with the check presentation.

(Right) MacKenzie Cochran, the newest winner of the Minnesota Vikings and ‘UND & Me’ winner of a $10,000 scholarship, holds her check with former UND and Minnesota Vikings standout Jim Kleinsasser before the start of Sunday’s football game at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis. Carter Kleinsasser (left), Jimmy’s son, helps out with the check presentation.

Cochran plans to major in atmospheric sciences at UND.

“When I was little I was really scared of the tornadoes and thunderstorms that are frequent in our area,” said Cochran, who also is a member of the Sebeka Public School choir. When the big tornado went through Wadena—which is 15 minutes from my home town—in June 2010, it energized by desire to learn a lot more about the weather and have had that interest ever since.”

While the Wadena tornado certainly made her interest grow, Cochran says the weather always fascinated her.

“I don’t know how it started; I just have always thought it was cool,” she said. “I’ve always loved being outdoors. I like fishing, and I have a dogsledding team that I run around the surrounding farm fields.”

Her interest sparked some family research about atmospheric science programs.

“It’s kind of been common knowledge in my family for a while that UND’s program for Atmospheric Sciences is excellent,” Cochran said. “My dad helped me a lot to research different college programs as well, but this one has always stood out. I would like to use a degree in meteorology to organize research on severe storms and gain a further understanding of how they develop to aid in forecasting.”

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