Who’s a Jackrabbit? Graduate Edition


The undergraduate graduation ceremony is May 9 at 10 a.m. 2:30 p.m., and after four years or more at SDSU, students are sure to have made memories, learned life lessons and had fun. Now, current graduates and alumni share stories and reflect on their time at SDSU – their favorite things about campus, the fun they had, the things they learned – giving future graduates a chance to learn from experience.

Editor’s Note: The ceremony for graduate students begins at 2:30 p.m. in Frost Arena.

Quail: There’s lots of opportunity

By Tony Gorder

Growing up going to SDSU football games and seeing the Pride of The Dakotas Marching Band, Matt Quail, a consumer affairs major from Sioux Falls knew he wanted to go to SDSU.

“My brother played football for SDSU, so I saw the marching band a lot when I was little and wanted to be in it,” said Quail. “My parents went here, and my family is from here, so I was familiar with Brookings.”

Quail said he is nervous, excited and glad to be graduating all at the same time.

“I’ll miss the familiarity of people and places,” he said. “I think SDSU is a great campus. I like that it is big enough that you don’t know everyone but small enough that you feel like you know enough people.”

After graduation, Quail will be interning at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls.

“After that, it’s a question mark,” he said.

One of the biggest life lessons Quail learned during his time at SDSU was to be himself.

“Be the best version of yourself,” said Quail. “Don’t let other people’s thoughts have influence over what you do. It’s difficult to not to compare yourself to others, but the more you can do that, the happier you’ll be because of who you are.”

Quail also said that taking advantage of the opportunities campus has to offer is something that current and future students should do before their time at SDSU is up.

“There’s tons of opportunity. Take advantage of as many opportunities as you can. I would say take advantage of as many study abroad opportunities as you can.”

Quail attended a month-long study abroad trip to Granada, Spain, with the Modern Languages Department. On the trip, Quail said he had a lot of fun but learned a lot, as well.

“I had culture shock. We went on a weekend excursion to Africa. The stereotypes that the American media puts out is completely different than what the reality is, and that was an eye opener for me. It also showed me how bad stereotypes are. “

Quail said he had definitely encourage others to study abroad if they can.

“[Studying abroad] is awesome,” he said.

Involvement on campus valuable to future careers

By Vanessa Marcano

Monte R. Mason obtained his degree in agricultural education in 1980. Mason, originally from Redfield, believes that one of the distinguishing qualities of SDSU graduates is the fact that they continue to keep close ties with their alma mater.

“My best memories from SDSU include being involved in various campus activities, making friends along the way and developing a network of people who have been instrumental in some of the jobs I’ve had,” he said.

It would be difficult to narrow down just one great memory from his years on campus, Mason said.

“When I was a student, we still had freshman initiation. Everyone went through it: the freshmen were out by the dorm greens early in the morning, doing calisthenics and stuff like that,” he said.

For Mason, Hobo Days and activities with Little International bring back a lot of good memories. Wednesday nights at Hort’s [Horatio’s] – the hot spot at the time – as well as the fall football games are all part of the unforgettable times Mason recalls from his Jackrabbit days.

“Football games are always a lot of fun. We still go to just about all of them,” he said. Both Mason and his wife are SDSU graduates, along with one of their daughters, while their youngest one is currently attending.

Mason was a member of Alpha Gamma Rho, Little International, Interfraternity Council, the SDSU Weightlifting Club and the Ag. Education Club, and he believes that his experiences in these extracurricular activities have definitely helped him reach his professional goals.

“What you learn in class prepares you academically, but being involved provides an individual with a broader background. Participation in different clubs and organizations gave me leadership experiences that I was able to use in my career after college,” he said.

One lesson Mason learned at SDSU stems from the school’s motto, “You can go anywhere from here.” Mason said that once students gain the skills, they can achieve whatever they set out to do, as long as they constantly work for it.

“Words of wisdom for the freshmen: Enjoy this time, take advantage of all the opportunities available in your field. And to the outgoing seniors, I’d advise them to keep in contact with SDSU. It will allow you to renew past friendships and catch up with former classmates. It is important to keep those lines of communication open,” he said.

Mason is the vice-chair of the SDSU Alumni Association Board of Directors. He is the community banking president at Wells Fargo in Redfield, S.D.

Independence most important lesson learned at SDSU

By Vanessa Marcano

Jaclyn Plamp, a Mitchell native who received her Pharmacy degree in 2005, recalls her time at SDSU as some of the best years of her life.

“The fondest memories I have are all the great friends that I met and whom I still keep in touch with,” she said, pointing out that Jim’s Tap was her top hangout spot during her years in Brookings. “My favorite tradition was watching the Hobo Day Parade from Jim’s Tap.”

A former member of Kappa Epsilon, American Students of Pharmacy, Golden Key and Admissions Ambassadors, Plamp currently works as a pharmacist at Cigma Tel Drug.

“SDSU’s pharmacy program prepared me quite well for working in the real world. My education makes me feel very capable of fulfilling my goals as a pharmacist,” she said.

Plamp said that independence and learning to do things for herself were some of the most significant skills acquired during her college career.

“There is no one there to watch out or take care of you; you are responsible for figuring things out on your own,” she said.

“To the freshmen, I say college is truly the best time of your life, so make sure to enjoy it while you are there. And go to class!” she said.

Plamp is a member of the SDSU Alumni Association Board of Directors. She has two children and lives in Sioux Falls.

Dorm life ‘unpredictable’

By Tony Gorder

Ellie Jensen, a psychology major from Sioux Falls will be moving on from SDSU this May. Jensen, along with 1,472 other students, is among the graduating class of 2009.

Jensen came to SDSU in the spring of 2006 after transferring from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn. She chose SDSU because the price was reasonable, it was close to home and she had family members who attended SDSU.

“For the price that this school is, I really think you get a wonderful education, and beings that I went to a private liberal arts college and this college, I would definitely say it’s well worth the time and money here.”

After graduating, she will attend graduate school at Winona State University in Minnesota to pursue a career as a school counselor.

“I definitely love my department. I felt very welcome by the professors there, in particular Dr. Martin, who does the child psychology lab that I’m in,” said Jensen. “The biggest thing I’m going to miss is working in the lab with the child psychology department. Ultimately, the reason I’m going to graduate school is to become a school counselor. SDSU was a good springboard for that.”

Jensen and the rest of the class graduating have seen many changes on campus. Jensen said with the change in leadership from former SDSU President Peggy Miller to President Chicoine, she has seen change that is headed in a “good direction.”

“Adding new residence halls and focusing more on research is huge,” she said.

Jensen added that since she has done research in the child psychology department, she understands its importance.

Living in the dorms is something that Jensen said she misses and others should appreciate.

“Living off campus, I miss the dorms, for sure. They are just so crazy and unpredictable. You just really never know what is going to happen at night. There’s always something to do, and it’s so easy to meet new people,” she said. “One time in Mathews Hall, my friend Whitney and I were studying, and there was this piece of wood that was falling off the desk. So we ripped it off, broke it in two and started fighting each other. I still think about the time we fought with sticks when we should have been studying.”

Jensen said that working independently is something she has taken away from her time at SDSU.

“I think one of the greatest life lessons that I’ve learned here is working by myself. I feel like, through other activities, I’ve learned communication, teamwork and organizational skills, but I really feel like going to college is a lot different than high school in that you really have to rely on yourself and motivate yourself in order to push yourself to the next level.”