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USD Alumna and Professor Turns Hobby into Business with a Purpose

Katie Kassin with her daughter, Collins, son, Kellen, and husband, Chris, wearing their Cure for Collins t-shirt USD alumna, assistant professor and owner of KTKreations, Katie Kassin, centers her work around her family and finding a cure to cystic fibrosis.

VERMILLION, S.D. – University of South Dakota alumna, assistant professor and owner of KTKreations, Katie (Schwartz) Kassin ’06, ’08, hopes someday her business will help bring an end to cystic fibrosis.

When her daughter Collins was born with the lung and digestive system disorder, Kassin began hosting backyard fundraisers and craft fairs to raise funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. As a crafter, Kassin wanted to be able to add her own items to the fairs.

“I love crafting but had never made anything for anyone other than myself before,” Kassin explained. “I rarely wear jewelry, but I love earrings and decided to try my hand at some fun leather earrings.”

Kassin’s leather earrings soon garnered much attention from her family and friends, so she decided to turn her hobby into a business – KTKreations – where 20% of its profits go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in Collins’ name.

In addition to earrings, Kassin also designs tumblers and signs. Kassin recently partnered with the USD Charlie’s Bookstore & Fan Shop and joined the Coyote Creators Community, which features creative works by USD alumni and friends. KTKreations can now be found in Charlie’s downtown and Muenster University Center locations as well as online at Kassin also sells in the KTKreations Facebook group.

As a mother of two, a physician assistant at Sanford Health Vermillion and an assistant professor in the USD School of Health Sciences, Kassin said creating brings balance to her busy life.

“I absolutely love being busy, but when I sit down to craft and create, it brings a sense of calm to my life. It’s relaxing and enjoyable.”

At the center of Kassin’s work, is Collins, who is an enthusiastic crafter like her mother, her son, Kellen, her husband, Chris, and finding a cure for cystic fibrosis.

“Collins is my inspiration,” Kassin said. “She also loves to craft, and sometimes, we just sit down together and come up with ideas. This year, she helped me design our ‘Cure for Collins’ t-shirts.

“I am motivated by my family,” she continued. “I want them to live happy and healthy lives, and everything I do is for them.”


USD’s School of Health Sciences is a national leader in interprofessional health sciences education. South Dakota’s comprehensive School of Health Sciences develops scholars, practitioners and leaders in health and human services, including addiction counselors, dental hygienists, health science practitioners, medical laboratory scientists, nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, physician assistants, public health practitioners and social workers.


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