Alayna Ackerman“At the University of South Dakota I get to experience a Division 1 school while receiving an outstanding undergraduate education, paired with amazing opportunities on and off campus.”

Alayna Ackerman - Rapid City, SD
Major: Political Science, Criminal Justice

I chose USD because of the stellar education I would receive. I planned on attending an out of state school but had no idea a great, affordable education was right under my nose. 

In addition to my studies, I am involved in the Alpha Phi Sorority, Student Government Association, Political Science League, Student Ambassadors, Order of Omega, Mortar Board, Golden Key Honors Society, Dance Marathon, Campus Activities Board and I work at the MUC Information Desk.

From June-August 2014 I completed an internship with the Heritage Foundation which is a conservative research tank based in Washington D.C. I worked with the Center for Policy Innovation, Heritage's "think tank within a think tank." The center is modeled on units within creative companies and specific institutions that develop breakthrough ideas.

Each day in the center was different from the previous. Some days I spent my mornings working on Excel sheets sorting through data, while other days I was knees deep in research regarding a completely different topic than the week before. I had the opportunity to blog, research and truly see the ins and outs of a research-based institution.

I chose to apply for the Heritage Foundation because I wanted to see what the research side of public policy was like. After interning in Washington DC the summer before for a South Dakota Senator, I was anxious to see what life and careers were like off Capitol Hill, but still focused on public policy and legislation.

As a rising senior, I am beyond thankful that I have the experiences my political science internships have given me when I apply for jobs. As many at the University of South Dakota have said, “you can go anywhere from here.”  Just because you are from South Dakota does not mean you do not have the skills, education and valuable assets to apply and receive these respected and distinguished internship opportunities.

Nolan Schroeder“What really distinguishes USD from other institutions I have studied at is the quality of faculty.”

Nolan Schroeder - Hot Springs, SD
Major: Master of Public Adminsitration

When Nolan Schroeder decided his future was in government he also knew he needed a quality public administration degree. At the time he was enrolled in the master’s program at North Carolina State University, but he could see that in order to go further he had to go back.

So Nolan came back to his home state of South Dakota and enrolled in the NASPAA-accredited public administration program at the University of South Dakota.

“I saw USD as more capable of helping me achieve my career goals,” he said. “Growing up in South Dakota I saw firsthand how people are more willing to open doors for you, make introductions and truly care about your success.”

At USD Nolan worked as a graduate research assistant for Professor Shannon Nordyke and served as a member of the Government Research Bureau.

“While it was only for a semester, the tasks I was assigned allowed me to put what I was learning in the classroom directly into action,” he said. “Already in my first position out of school I am doing similar, if not the same, tasks that I was assigned by Nordyke.”

That’s right. Nolan graduates in 2015 but he’s already been hired as city administrator in Hot Springs, S.D. “While I was still in my final semester on campus the position became available and with the support of Nordyke and John Prescott, the city manager of Vermillion, I was offered the job in November of 2014.

“What stands out most is how committed the faculty is to ensuring I was able to get as much out of the program as we both wanted,” he said. “If you show a sincere willingness to take in as much as you can during the short program, the professors will be more than willing to challenge you and help you succeed.”