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March 19, 2019
This is a paid piece sponsored by Dakota State University.
Sioux Falls-area graduates are finding they don’t have to go far for college to find somewhere they can be themselves, explore opportunities and feel at home.
The youngest of four children, McKenzie Hermanson attended O’Gorman High School and played many sports throughout her childhood, including basketball. Her love of the game led her to Dakota State University.
“I was recruited to play basketball here. It’s been great continuing to play a sport I love as well as finding a major that was appealing to me,” she said. “Everyone here is friendly and welcoming, which made for a smooth transition to college.”
She gravitated toward a major in cyber operations and is pursuing a minor in the Center of Excellence. Although she’s only in her second semester of school, she’s confident that her degree program fits her needs. It even allows her to grow closer to family.
“The cyber operations program is teaching me things that, as a kid, I never even dreamed of doing. It’s exciting because the field is unique and new compared to others,” she said. “It also brings me closer with my dad. He’s a computer guy, so we’re able to talk about the stuff I’m learning. He wishes he could have had this opportunity in college.”
In addition to new and unique opportunities, all DSU classes incorporate career skills, technology and real-life experiences from the first day to the moment students receive their diploma.
“I didn’t know much about computers aside from the day-to-day use. The cyber operations major teaches me more than I could have ever imagined, and I’m only a freshman,” Hermanson said.
“You don’t have to be a genius with computers if you’re wanting a degree in a computer-related field. DSU is above and beyond what I expected. It’s a tight-knit community, so it makes it easier to get to know everyone, especially your classmates and professors.”
Xander Morrison is having a similar experience. He grew up in Sioux Falls and spent a few years in Mitchell.
“Dakota State isn’t far from home, but it’s far enough to make it feel like I’m living independently. It is a smaller community with small-town quirks, which I see as a good thing. It’s also more affordable than other schools,” he said.
Morrison is majoring in digital arts and design, with a digital sound design emphasis. For him, coming to DSU wasn’t a question because the university offers one of the only sound design programs in the state.
“I haven’t taken any audio-specific classes yet, but I have enjoyed the art classes required for my major. Things like Photoshop and animation are relatively new to me, but there’s a lot of room to let creativity flow,” he said. “It has provided me with many opportunities to explore.”
That creativity also gives Morrison and other students the chance to incorporate technology into their everyday lives. DSU is known for being a campus that innovates the newest and most advanced technology into each of its 45 majors.
“I get to learn how to do everything digitally. If I want to make album art for myself, now I can. Music video? I have it covered,” Morrison said. “As I continue to take different classes, I’ll learn how to do even more with audio. It’s all connected, so it’s beneficial to acquire those skills.”
Those skills, along with many others, prepare DSU students to graduate ready to contribute to the workforce and be leaders within the organizations where they are employed. Graduates also are highly trained in technology, making them a guaranteed asset to any business.
“Many of our program directors and faculty work hand in hand with professionals within the fields to make sure our students are gaining the knowledge and resources they need and that they are adaptable to changing technologies and emerging trends,” said Amber Schmidt, assistant director of admission.
“We have businesses knocking on our door to get these students before they graduate.”
While academics plays a big part in the lifestyle of students, activities also define the college journey because they allow students to create lifelong relationships.
“Students choose DSU because of our small personal size, technology-focused classrooms, excellent programs, faculty, athletics and more, but they stay at DSU because they become a part of our Trojan family,” Schmidt said. “They build relationships and friendships that will last a lifetime.”
For Hermanson and Morrison, getting involved on campus has awarded them with knowledge, inclusiveness and fun nights.
“Since I’m new to my major, I joined the CybHER club. I wanted to learn more about my program and CybHER. I’m also part of the women’s basketball team,” Hermanson said. “I’m looking forward to participating in both.”
“I’ve become very involved with music and theater. I have fun drumming for the jazz band and scoring the DSU production of ‘Frankenstein,’ ” Morrison said. “I’m also part of DSU Live, which is a club focused on teaching audio students to run live sound events by bringing in bands, comedians, karaoke nights and other live events.”
For information about Dakota State University, please visit here.
“We have businesses knocking on our door to get these students before they graduate.” Sioux Falls-area students are finding they don’t have to go far to find a college that prepares them for next-generation jobs.