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High School Rodeo Star Receives Nolop Institute Scholarship for Medical Biology

Alex Bergeson is the first recipient of the Nolop Institute Scholarship for Medical Biology at USD. Alex Bergeson is the first recipient of the Nolop Institute Scholarship for Medical Biology at USD.

Vermillion, S.D. – It was a year of firsts for Alex Bergeson, an incoming student at the University of South Dakota from Mitchell, S.D. Not only did Bergeson finish in first place with the best time (4.53 seconds) in the 2018 South Dakota High School Rodeo Finals steer wrestling event, he also became the first recipient of the Nolop Institute Scholarship for Medical Biology at USD.

The Nolop Scholarship is named after alumnus Keith Nolop, a medical doctor who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from USD in 1975 and had a distinguished career in drug development in the pharmaceutical industry.

Scholarship recipients receive an award that covers four years of in-state tuition and fees, books and room and board as an undergraduate. They also must plan to attend medical school.

Bergeson said the generous scholarship and academic offerings at USD were big influences on his college choice, even if that meant not competing in rodeo on the college circuit.

“With the Nolop Scholarship and what USD has to offer academically, I felt this was the place for me,” Bergeson said. “I wanted to put my academics before rodeoing in college.”

Science was always one of Bergeson’s best subject, he said, and he decided to study biology and become a physician after considering other majors and career options.

“With science, you are always progressing and learning more,” said Bergeson. “You can learn something new every day.”

Bergeson said he also looks forward to performing research at USD. His scholarship includes a position as an undergraduate researcher in a university laboratory.


USD's College of Arts & Sciences offers students a top-notch undergraduate liberal arts education in the humanities, social sciences and sciences as well as graduate programs that have earned USD distinction as a research university by the Carnegie Foundation. The college's more than 22,000 alumni include famous journalists, Hollywood screenwriters, novelists, a Nobel Prize winner, South Dakota governors, attorneys, physicians, justices of the state Supreme Court, distinguished university faculty and international humanitarians.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News