Life may take you surprising places, enjoy it

I went to no fewer than three colleges before I graduated.

With one undergraduate degree, mind you.

Hey, I grew up wanting to go to that joint down south. Ye, in Verm. The plan was to save money by taking a couple of years of classes at Northern State University in Aberdeen, my hometown. Then, I would head to the University of South Dakota. When I was a kid, and the South Dakota State vs. USD football games were aired on late Saturday nights on public television, I would tune in and root for the ‘Yotes, I’m sad to say.

My college career started out exactly as planned. But, well, I didn’t really like the guy heading the program I was enrolled in at USD. And I really didn’t fit in with the fraternity/sorority atmosphere. And, oh yeah, I got pretty sick and had to drop out and move back to Aberdeen. And, no, getting sick is not code for flunking out.

Anyhow, I recovered and, when it was time to return to school, I swallowed my Coyote pride (is there such a thing?) and enrolled at SDSU. No lie, it was tough to put on the yellow and blue after having built up an allegiance to USD. It was, though, one of the best decisions of my life. When you’re sick for a while, you have time to contemplate life. As I did, I decided I wanted to major in print journalism because, hey, the world will always need newspapers, right? So, I packed up my car and headed to Brookings. SDSU grew on me quickly. It was, for me, the right place at the right time in the right program with the right people. And I hope that’s what your time here at State is for you, too. There’s a lot to love here in Brookings. Their nice communities with a small-town feel that supports the school. SDSU has renowned research opportunities. There are excellent programs and faculty. There’s the dairy bar. And Nick’s, don’t forget Nick’s. Now, some 17 years out of college, I make it back to campus regularly, especially during fall for football games. I love to come back and cheer on the Jacks. I like to walk across campus and look at all the new construction. I enjoy standing at the base of the Campanile and staring up at the white, stone top. I like to chat with students and learn from them what’s of interest on campus. I get The Collegian and read it to keep tabs on the hot topics. I love growing my annual Hobo Day beard. I miss ringing my cowbell at games. Uncertain upon my arrival, I left loving the university and its people. As years have passed, there have naturally been instances during which I have not agreed with decisions or policies. But my affinity for SDSU has endured. Your time in college and on this campus is limited. It’ll go fast. While you’re here, I hope you find the same love for SDSU that I found. This is a special place at which you can develop the skills with which will guide your life. Make the most of your handful of semesters here. Like newspapers, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.


Scott Waltman is a 1996 graduate of SDSU. He majored in journalism and minored in history. A native of Aberdeen, he’s worked for the past 13 years as reporter at his hometown newspaper, the American News.