Meet the Speaker: Allyson Monson


Sammi Schrag

When COVID-19 put an end to a formal graduation ceremony, South Dakota State University opted to move its May 9 commencement online. This gave three graduating students the opportunity to give a virtual graduation speech. One of which is Allyson Monson, senior political science and communications major, who is no stranger to getting the student body to rally behind her. 

Q: How did you feel when you were asked to give a graduation speech in such unique circumstances?

A: I was definitely shocked and very honored. We actually auditioned over Zoom this year rather than in person, which was different, but yes I’m so excited.

Q: What do you hope your classmates get out of your message?

A: I hope what they can get out of the message is that they can recognize that the emotions that they are feeling right now are relevant, but they have faced them before, and they are still on a pathway to success. I really wanted to encapsulate what us as graduates are feeling right now. I want to let them know that what we are going through right now doesn’t define us and isn’t going to hold us back.

Q: What do you think is the most underrated part of SDSU?

A: I think one of the most underrated parts of SDSU is just where it’s located. I used to refer to SDSU as the “gem of the prairie” or the “Harvard of the plains,” because while it sounds like a joke, I truly do believe it’s a world-class education that you can get right here in the Midwest.

In high school, never did I think that I would study abroad in Indonesia, be able to testify in front of the state legislature on bills I was passionate about or develop a capital fund for a transportation system.

People can look at Big 10 schools and think they have so many opportunities. But at SDSU you’re not just a number, you’re an individual. And I think with that individuality everyone as a premier pathway to success. 

Q: How do you think being a part of Students’ Association has helped shape who you are today?

A: It really wasn’t until I was a part of SA that I learned empathy and how to view what other people are going through. I think it’s just helped develop me into a person who’s understanding, empathetic and charged with helping others more than anything.

Q: What did it mean to you to be the first two-term female president of Students’ Association?

A: It’s kind of a huge honor. I really didn’t necessarily realize it and it wasn’t something that I sought out to do. I think about when I ran my junior year, I was a sophomore. I remember feeling really strange like, “Oh, you’re going to run for student body president, but you’re living in Young Hall?”

It’s just something that most people don’t do until they’re a senior or taking a victory lap, but it felt like something I needed to do. I felt like I was the person to do it and I believed in my capabilities. I think for me, while it’s really cool to be the first two-term female student body president, it was also just what I needed to do to serve SDSU.

Q: What other clubs and events were you a part of?

A: I was also a part of Honors College where I did a lot of different things. Additionally, I was a New Student Orientation leader and as a community assistant I was also involved with the admissions master program. But being a part of SA for four years took a majority of my time.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I’m looking to attend law school where I’ve been accepted to a couple, but I’m not sure where I’ll end up. I know I want to stay in the Midwest.

Q: Did you always want to be a lawyer?

A: Yes, when I was a senior in high school I decided practicing law was what I wanted to do. So, all four years here that’s been my goal. 

Q: What is one quirky fact about you?

A: My life goal has always been to be on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and I want to compete in a lip-sync battle. I usually tell people that because if anybody becomes famous, I hope they invite me on the show.

Q: What advice do you have for future Jackrabbits?

A: My biggest advice is to not be pulled back by fear. I think that your experiences here at state are enriched with the people you meet by being involved. While the organizations I have been a part of have been great, they’re great because of the people I met. Those people make you a better person. Throw yourself in there and you’ll see great benefits.