VERMILLION, S.D. – For sophomore political science major Amber Hulse, service to the public has been a lifelong commitment.
A member of the Student Government Association’s executive team, former secretary of the College Republicans, and a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, Hulse credits her father with her dedication to public service.
“My dad was a Vietnam War veteran,” Hulse said. “I believe he is a big part of why I became interested in politics because in my house we were watching C-SPAN and Fox News after dinner instead of a movie.”
Hulse’s interests in politics led her to activities as diverse as serving as a legislative page to protesting in her hometown of Hot Springs, S.D. against the closure of the local Veteran’s Administration hospital.
During the 2018 legislative session, Hulse interned in the Office of the Secretary of State in Pierre. She interned in summer 2018 in Virginia for a member of the House of Delegates.
Hulse’s successes at University of South Dakota would not be, however, except for the persistence of one faculty recruiter.
“I actually hung up on Professor [of Political Science Eric] Jepsen when he called to talk about going to USD,” Hulse recalled. “I always told myself I would never go to school in South Dakota. I was on track to attend the United States Naval Academy—I had my appointment and was ready to go.”
In the end, the Department of Political Science’s award of the Dorothy C. Schieffer Scholarship—made possible by the generosity of alumnus and current South Dakota Regent Kevin Schieffer—persuaded Hulse to attend USD instead.
Among Hulse’s favorite courses is “Women and Politics” taught by Assistant Professor Julia Hellwege and Marshall Damgaard’s “South Dakota Politics” taught in Pierre.
Although Hulse does not yet have a second major, her interest in music has served her well. Her talent with the piano has proved useful in her regular competitions in pageants.
“I started competing in the Miss South Dakota Organization when I was 13,” Hulse said. “[My best friend] talked me into competing and I hated it.”
At her mother’s insistence, however, Hulse tried again and won another pageant the following week. Since then, she has won six additional titles in the organization including, most recently, the 2019 Miss South Dakota State Fair.
In June, the Miss South Dakota pageant named Hulse its first runner-up.
“There’s a statistic that we pageant girls like to share,” Hulse said. “A parent is more likely to have a son play in the Super Bowl than a daughter compete at Miss America.”
“So, figuratively speaking, in my sport of pageantry, I was basically in the equivalent of the NFL draft.”
In between the summer’s pageants, Hulse participated in the Department’s faculty-led trip to Washington, DC, led by Assistant Professor of Political Science Ed Gerrish.
“The Farber Fund was one of the big things that won me over to attend USD,” Hulse said. “I would not have had as successful a year as I did last year had it not been for the Department here at USD and the [Schieffer] Scholarship.”
“I came in thinking it wasn’t that big of a deal and shortly realized how lucky and fortunate I am to be sitting where I am,” Hulse said. “For that I will be forever grateful.”