Erika Tordsen

Erika Tordsen

Content and Digital Strategist, The First National Bank in Sioux Falls
Sioux Falls, SD
Media and Journalism, 2016

"Get involved in as many things as you can. USD has something for everyone whether it's academic or for fun. The skills you'll learn in organizations will be ones you can apply after you graduate, especially when it comes to interviews and effectively communicating. You'll be busy, but the memories you'll have will be worth the sleepless nights."

Q&A with Erika:

Describe your current educational or professional pursuits.

Since graduation, I've held three professional roles. I began work with the State of South Dakota as a communications specialist for the Bureau of Human Resources. I spent my days communicating with the State's 14,000+ employees and working on building a digital media presence. During that time, I found a love for digital marketing and figuring out the most effective ways to communicate with others. After that we moved to Sioux Falls for bigger opportunities and I found another chance to tell stories and effectively market a product through KELOLAND News. I started as a multi-media journalist shooting, writing, and editing my own stories. I used my platform to tell the voice of many Native American people throughout our state as well as my day-to-day stories. One of my proudest stories was on the South Dakota boarding schools and sharing that history with our viewers. It really made an impact on my life and on others as well. I've always had a passion for storytelling and how to communicate that with others and KELO gave me that chance.

Thinking about what to do next, I found myself wanting to do digital marketing full-time, so I made the leap and now I am the digital and content strategist for The First National Bank in Sioux Falls. I started working with the bank because my values aligned with theirs. They put family first and show they really care about the communities they're in. I came on to share their story and to continue my love of media and storytelling.

How did your USD experience influence your career path?

USD has shaped my career path significantly. Being on campus felt like you weren't at a D1 school because it was small enough to get to know a lot of the professors, advisors, and other students by name, but it was big enough to grow and experience more things as you spent more time there. The media and journalism department set me up to succeed by giving me a hands-on experience as well as the professors taking the time to get to know me. I spent most of my time in the media and journalism building which became my second home and without the resources there, I wouldn't have the knowledge and expertise I do now.

Throughout my time on campus, I've had the chance to get to know the USD president, various professors and alumni whereas I might've not had the opportunity elsewhere. Even after graduation, my old professors keep in touch and are there to continue being a resource. I've made lifelong connections through USD that will stay with me for years to come.

Tell us about your proudest achievement.

My proudest moment is graduating college and working in a field I love. I grew up on one of South Dakota's Indian Reservations and there isn't a lot of motivators to go to college or even work. I lived with my grandparents, worked every day after school and continued to work on my grades. I spent three of my summers during high school on the USD campus for the Upward Bound program where we continued CORE classes. During my fourth summer, I attended the university program at the Crazy Horse Memorial working as a tour guide and taking college courses to get me ready for my freshman year.

I kept myself busy and was always looking for ways to keep growing. I put myself through college by applying for scholarships and working. I learned a lot more than I expected and graduated in four years. I'm a first-generation college student with minimal student loan debt, and I'm doing what I love every day. Not many people can say that and I'm so proud for getting to this point in my life. I can't wait to see what's next!

What was your USD experience like? Were you involved in any campus organizations or activities?

My USD experience was amazing and I got involved right away. I participated in Greek life, Coyote News, The Volante, Student Ambassadors, Tiospaye Student Council, and the Dakota Days executive board. It was a busy four years, but without them I wouldn't be where I am today.

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