MeLee Bjorklund and his wife, Leah, know what it means to “just keep swimming.”

A few years ago, Bjorklund and his wife lost their jobs. His mother-in-law was arrested for embezzlement. Their three-month-old son had to have open-heart surgery. All within a matter of months. It would have been easy for the couple to give up.

Instead, the Bjorklunds opted to return to college for the sake of their three children.

The father of three, a 9-year-old and 4-year-old twins, will graduate this fall with his bachelor’s degree in computer science.

Nicknamed “Mr. Happy,” Bjorklund credits his “beautiful, loving wife” and children with helping him retain his positive outlook. He thrives on his positive attitude and advises that others do the same.

“As Dori says in Finding Nemo, ‘Just keep swimming,’” Bjorklund said. “Through the ups and downs, the good and the bad. Just keep swimming, never give up… nothing gets done when you’re negative.”

Not surprisingly, Bjorklund reflects on his days at WSU as being a very positive experience. He attended most of his classes at Winona State-Rochester but also took psychology classes on the Winona campus.

“Even going to the Winona campus and being old enough to be a parent to most students, I was still welcomed,” Bjorklund said. “I wasn’t shunned or left out. I was even asked to be study buddies with some and invited to attend some campus activities.”

Bjorklund said Winona State taught him how to be himself, and he is proud to have this achievement for his children.

“Besides proving to myself that you can achieve what you set out to do,” Bjorklund said, “I am proud to have shown my children how important education is and the right way to do it.