Meet the 2023 class!

Read more about this year's class and how USD influenced their personal and professional experiences following graduation.

Abigail Brandenburger

Tax Manager, Eide Bailly, LLP
Revillo, SD
B.B.A. Accounting & M.P.A., 2016

"As part of the USD Honors program, I was given the opportunity to really focus on my written and verbal communication skills and that experience has proven extremely valuable in my career. Conversations with clients, written communication with taxing agencies, and training presentations to colleagues are just a few of the places I am able to use the communication skills I developed at USD."

Aidan Goetzinger

Associate Attorney, Gunderson, Palmer, Nelson & Ashmore, LLP
Rapid City, SD
B.A. Political Science, 2017; J.D., 2020

"Completing both my undergraduate and professional education at USD gave me the confidence and opportunities to thrive in my profession. As a result of my undergraduate studies, specifically courses with Dr. Mike Roche, I feel I am a well-rounded human being who is able to "look around the lantern." This has been invaluable to my practice as I am able to relate with more people than I otherwise would be able to. I would not be where I am in my career if not for USD."

Alexa (Moeller) Beauchamp

Deputy States Attorney, Pennington County State's Attorney
Rapid City, SD
B.A. Political Science, 2016; J.D., 2019

"USD is the place I found myself and fostered my strengths. In law school, I took classes not just to learn about the law, but to learn how to be the best lawyer I can be. Much of that is thanks to Thomas Horton and his unwavering support for his students."

Andrea (Kelly) Hall

Assistant Professor of Economics, Grinnell College
Newton, IA
B.S. Economics, 2015

"Without my guidance and mentoring at USD, I would not have gotten to attend Texas A&M for graduate school. The mentoring and advice I received at USD ensured that I had people to reach out to for support in the tough times of grad school and gave me a great network to interact with at academic conferences."

Anissa Martin

Action Organizer, NDN Collective
Rapid City, SD
B.S. Psychology, Minors in Public Health and Addiction Studies, 2018

"Attending USD has influenced my pursuit of making the world a more just and equitable place. Being an Indigenous student has brought both challenges and opportunities that have significantly influenced my journey, but witnessing and experiencing the unwavering dedication of my mentors (Gene Thin Elk, Kathy Van Kley, Carol Voss-Ward) who have fervently created a community for Indigenous students helped tremendously in pushing me forward at USD."

Ashley Jensen

Licensed Social Worker and Addiction Counselor Trainee,, Lifeways
Rapid City, SD
B.S. Social Work, 2016; M.S. Social Work, 2023

"I have such a big heart for USD and the community there and still go back and visit any time I can and attend the USD games to support my fellow Yotes. I have also been involved in the Alumni association and became a mentor to students along with coordinating the events here in Rapid City for the watch parties so Yotes can come together to support one another, socialize, and cheer on our team from afar. Without the wonderful experience I had at USD, I wouldn’t have been able to find my true calling in life and help others."

Bailey Lagge

4th Grade Teacher/ Boys Basketball Head Coach, Avon School District
Avon, SD
B.S.Ed., 2018

"USD provided me with great relationships and real world experiences. The internships and field experiences equipped me well for my profession after college. It showed me what can be accomplished with collaboration, hard work, and a plan of action. USD gave me the confidence and comfortability through these experiences I needed to advocate for my students, players, and myself. I sincerely think there is no place to help you reach your goals like the University of South Dakota."

Brittany Fodness

Graphic Designer & Project Coordinator, University of South Dakota
Vermillion, SD
B.F.A. Emphasis in Graphic Design, 2016

“I was privileged to work in the USD Creative Services department as a student and gain valuable skills that can’t be taught within a classroom setting, along with professional connections that would kickstart my career after graduation. The personal connections that I made while attending USD helped propel my freelance career and my professional career at USD."

Dallas Doane

Associate Professor of Practice in Higher Education Administration, University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS
B.M.A. Musicial Arts, 2015; Ed.D. Educational Administration and Leadership, 2023

"As a new graduate interested in higher education, USD was the perfect place for me to explore what I was interested in and gain leadership experience. As a mentor, I have worked with USD students who are first-generation college students and support them when applying for scholarships and internships. It has been immensely rewarding. The university was integral in shaping my career in higher education, and in turn, the next generation of higher education professionals."

Elizabeth (Landy) Rasmussen

Public Relations, WUCF
Oviedo, FL
B.A. Strategic Communication, 2016

"USD taught me that in order to make a positive impact on your community, you need to take time to make meaningful connections. The Al Neuharth building became my second home, and the classes offered me real life connections in the media relations world. One of my PR professors, Teddi Joyce, whom I still speak with today, suggested I host a weekly radio show on USD’s station, KAOR. That radio experience and the skills I developed while working on air, helped me land my dream role - working with NPR for WUCF."

Ember Smith

Physical Therapist, Well Balanced Physical Therapy
Sioux Falls, SD
DPT, 2021

"University of South Dakota’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program gave me much more than a doctorate. I felt my experience developed foundational knowledge and hands-on skills necessary to succeed as a physical therapist in any setting I chose. Not only do I have a large network of USD alumni that practice physical therapy locally to look up to as mentors, I still have access to the expert instructors and faculty."

Isaiah Wonnenberg

Vice President, Regulatory Affairs, Commercial Spaceflight Federation
Arlington, VA
B.A. Political Science, 2015

"Every facet of the USD community has positively influenced my career. Through USD and often supported by the Farber Fund, I served as a Taiwan-US Alliance Ambassador, a Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Institute Fellow, and an intern in the U.S. Senate. Everywhere I went, I was able to connect with inspiring and friendly members of the USD community."

Joe Mehlhaff

Operations Officer, Great Plains Bank
Aberdeen, SD
M.B.A., 2021

"USD offered a number of courses that were invaluable in my day to day work, specifically Advanced Financial Analysis/Modeling and Investment Analysis/Portfolio Management. My professors were easily accessible for questions that developed from both the classroom and my job. I developed strong relationships with my professors and classmates which continue to be a great benefit to me. Relationships with my classmates have been invaluable as I advance in my career."

John Nelson

Owner/Attorney-at-Law, Nelson & Ericsson Law Office, Prof. LLC
Madison, SD
J.D., 2021

"USD Knudson School of Law has provided me with a wealth of friendship, mentorship, and professionalism. The faculty at USD Law are stalwart champions of our profession and have set such an example for me, my class, the school, and the attorneys throughout the state. My friends, my mentors, and Vermillion have instilled a strong foundation upon which I have painstakingly built my own life and success."

Josh Arens

Graduate Student, Stanford University
Stanford, CA
B.S. Chemistry, 2017

"Throughout my time at USD, I had many wonderful mentors who were generous with their time and knowledge. Specifically, the Honors Program encouraged and helped me apply for many nationally competitive scholarships, and the Chemistry Department provided me an opportunity to do cutting-edge research as an undergraduate student."

Josh Sorbe

Press Secretary, United States Senate
Washington, DC
B.A. Political Science & Economics, 2020

"I owe much of my foundation to the education, opportunities, and experiences that only USD could have afforded me. Student government, Coyote athletics, the honors program, and the economics and political science departments all contributed to a true liberal arts education that empowered me to think critically and seek to address macro-level challenges, a drive that led me to become a Truman Scholar in 2019 and land my first job in DC."

Kade Rexwinkel

Director of Corporate Development, POET
Sioux Falls, SD
B.B.A. Marketing, 2018

"On top of a quality education, USD gave me the opportunity to network with a large group of highly motivated and driven people everyday. These people, many of whom I am fortunate to call friends to this day, are now carving out successful careers across multiple industries. They say a rising tide lifts all ships and being a part of that network has greatly affected my personal and professional life in nothing but good ways."

Kara Brodsky

Brand & Marketing Manager, South Dakota Public Broadcasting
Sioux Falls, SD
B.A. Communication Studies, 2018

"On a personal level, USD fostered an environment that encouraged personal growth and self-discovery. The diverse community and inclusive campus culture allowed me to interact with individuals from various backgrounds and perspectives, broadening my horizons and challenging my beliefs and values. This experience helped shape me into a more open-minded and culturally aware individual."

Karla Nelson

Deputy State's Attorney, Brown County
Aberdeen, SD
MPA/J.D., 2019

"My time at USD also taught me the value of being involved and giving back and I continue to apply these same values in my life today. I continue to make time for volunteering in our community with a focus on promoting child welfare. I am passionate about making our community a better and safer place for children and their families and I will always have pride in calling the community of Aberdeen and the state of South Dakota my home."

Katey Ulrich

Director of Admissions & Marketing, USD Knudson School of Law
Vermillion, SD
B.S. Psychology, 2015; M.A. Educational Administration, Adult and Higher Education, 2019

"USD has impacted every part of my life since starting college in 2011. Most of my closest friendships were formed at USD and the student experience I had developed me more as a student, person, and professional than I could have ever imagined. The three most important mentors to me – Steve Miller, Scott Pohlson, and Neil Fulton have all been introduced to me through my USD network. From shifting career aspirations to the many roles that I have held at USD, they have supported and encouraged me in those goals and put me in positions or experiences to further my personal and professional development."

Katie Nour

Physical Therapist, Avera McKennan Hospital
Sioux Falls, SD
B.S. Kinesiology, 2016; DPT, 2019

"I achieved my bachelors and doctoral degrees from USD and can truly say those were some of the best 7 years of my life. My experiences there still influence me today to strive to be my best in everything I do. I also try to instill these same ethics in my patients by encouraging them to never give up even when it seems all odds are stacked against them."

Liz Pekas

Senior Manager, Medical Affairs, American Diabetes Association
Omaha, NE
B.S. Kinesiology & B.M. Music Performance, 2017

"As an undergraduate, I knew I was getting a great education, but I did not know I was building a professional network with some of the greatest mentors I’ve ever come to know. My time at USD was critical to my personal and professional development, and I attribute that to the culture and the faculty I had the privilege of learning from while I was there."

Lucas Martin

Advisory Manager, Government and Public Services, Deloitte
Austin, TX
B.B.A., 2016

"USD provided me not only with the educational tools to hit the ground running in the professional world, but also provided me with a rolodex full of contacts to help support me in deciding which opportunities fit my professional development. The flexibility that the Beacom School of Business and my professors provided me is the reason I'm where I am today."

Maria Koenen

General Surgery Resident, USD Sanford School of Medicine Residency
Sioux Falls, SD
M.D., 2023

"My medical school experience at USD was excellent. I felt I had the opportunity to learn and grow in medicine, and truly find my own way. When I returned to Sioux Falls for my final year of medical school, I was offered endless opportunities to better myself and prepare for patient care and residency. I have so much appreciation for my USD medical school experience, and believe it was a major contributing factor to my current plan to practice in as a rural general surgeon in SD."

Matt Decker

Teacher/Coach, Yankton School District
Yankton, SD
B.S. Education - Secondary Education History, 2019

"The USD School of Education supported all of my dreams to be a teacher/coach in South Dakota. The teacher development program helped me develop the skills needed to be a successful teacher and focus on student growth in the classroom. The Education Leadership department has helped me develop my leadership skills in the field of education and helped me gain more knowledge about education administration. USD has been the foundation for my growth in learning about education leadership."

McKenzie Huska

Director of Marissa's House, Call to Freedom
Sioux Falls, SD
B.A. Psychology, 2015; MPA, 2017

"USD's faculty is amongst the best in the nation. I had such a good experience with my professors and they helped me shape my career. It's so important for students to find a professor/mentor/advisor they trust during their time as a student to help shape those tough decisions towards the graduation mark and beyond. I was lucky enough to be able to still contact my trusted professors after graduation to assist with decisions regarding my education/career goals and I will always be grateful for that."

Nolan Welker

Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Litigation Division, South Dakota Office of the Attorney General
Pierre, SD
B.B.A., 2017; M.B.A/J.D., 2020

"My degrees from USD placed me in the best position and gave me the practical skills to find and succeed in the career I love. Specifically, USD’s Knudson School of Law taught me the value of bringing high-quality legal services to even the most rural and underserved parts of South Dakota. My time at the Beacom School of Business similarly has allowed me to bring knowledge and skill to my career that many others in my field do not have. The friends, colleagues, and connections that I made while at USD continue to be an integral part of maintaining a rewarding and fulfilling life and career."

Rachelle Schmidt

Avera Medical Group Clinic Manager, Avera
Freeman, SD
B.B.A. & M.B.A., 2018

"Learning about healthcare administration as an option in one of my first year business classes was a pivotal experience that opened my eyes to the complexities of the industry. I'm truly thankful for the guidance and doors that USD has opened—because of those opportunities, I'm able to live in small town South Dakota but still have the career I have always dreamed of."

Ryan Davis

Clinical Research Coordinator, Department of Veterans Affairs
Westland, MI
B.S. Social Work, 2021; M.S.W., 2022

"The genuineness of my professors, classmates, and the overall environment of USD gave me the confidence to present my most authentic self. The faculty at USD helped me embrace being a first-generation American and first-generation college student. I always felt supported throughout my academic journey. The education I received at USD gave me the skills to serve as an advocate for change, regardless of my formal occupational title."

Seth Gerberding

PhD Student, Texas A&M University
College Station, TX
B.S. Mathematics & Philosophy, 2020

"Professionally, USD set me up for an exciting career in scholarship and research. Undergraduate research is essential for the success of any institution of higher learning, and USD does a tremendous job of providing those opportunities. Personally, the relationships I built while at USD are some of the most important to me, not just among my classmates but among the faculty. But what all of these relationships have taught me is that, no matter how technically advanced you may be, the way you treat others will always be paramount."