Meet the 2018 class!

Zac Barnhardt

Practice Management Support Partner, Avera
Sioux Falls, SD
B.S. Chemisty, 2012

"My advice would be to get involved in as many projects, organizations, groups, and philanthropic events as possible. I learned a lot about time management and staying focused as a student and fraternity member. My other advice would be to dream big and don't give up if a class is too difficult. Reach out and utilize the resources available to students to excel at this great university."

Matt Barthel

Communications Manager, Sioux Falls Convention & Visitors Bureau
Sioux Falls, SD
B.B.A. Business Marketing, 2014

"My advice to current students is to try getting outside of your comfort zone because you never know what you could be missing out on if you don't expand your horizons. Your time at USD is limited, so cherish every moment you have there because you will spend the next several years after graduation wishing you could go back."

Anjelica Brackins

Commercial Lines Customer Service Representative, Western Dakota Insurors
Rapid City, SD
B.S. Media & Journalism - Strategic Communications, 2013

"Do not be afraid of surprising yourself. You may have come with a certain vision for your future and then you take a class or join an organization that takes you into a completely different direction. Have an open mind and trust your gut. Keep your head up, stay positive, and go after what you want in life. It’s important to have goals that align with what is right for you – not anyone else."

Nick Bratvold

Chapter Coordinator, Child Advocacy Centers of South Dakota
Sioux Falls, SD
History, 2016

"Get to know people with whom you disagree, who are unlike you and who see the world in ways that make you uncomfortable. We have our entire lives to accumulate knowledge, but we cannot possibly find humility and empathy soon enough. And for what we do not know, a good friend will always fill in the blanks."

James Caraway

Manager of Business Development, Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership
Omaha, NE
Master of Public Administration, 2015

"Continue to learn and seek knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Recognize that you can learn something from anyone and treat everyone with respect. No one is ever 100 percent prepared for a new opportunity or challenge. Don’t be afraid of failing because often on the other side of failure is greatness."

Corryn Celmer

Associate Director of Community Programming, Yankton Rural Area Health Education Center
Yankton, SD
Health Sciences, 2014, Master of Public Health, 2017

"My greatest piece of advice would be to maintain relationships and stay in contact with your professors, advisors or department chairs. By fostering a positive and communicative relationship with them, you open yourself up to more opportunities than you realize."

Bailie Cronin

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Alder Grove Health Services
Denver, CO
Nursing, 2012, Spanish, 2013

"I would tell any current student to not get stressed out with little assignments and tasks. Take a step back and look at the big picture. Network with people and organizations that are going to get you to your next goal. Build friendships, be outgoing and always be kind. The third floor of the library might be your second home. For recent grads, even if you don't land your dream job right out of college, you can get there if you just keep working for it."

Tessa Dee

Development Associate, LifeScape Foundation
Sioux Falls, SD
B.S. Health Sciences, 2013, Master of Communication, 2016

"Be open to change. Life isn’t rigid, it is constantly changing. Be open to new opportunities, even if they seem too grand or daring at first. Facing your fear of failure head on might not always guarantee success, but it will guarantee growth and adventure!"

Andrew Finzen

City Manager, City of Goodland
Goodland, KS
B.A. Political Science and Philosophy, 2013, M.P.A., 2015

"Don't be afraid to think bigger. USD is training you to be a citizen of the world, and that might mean taking you out of your comfort zone to places and experiences that you never expected."

Brian Griffin

NFL Agent, Ovation Management Group
Denver, CO
B.B.A. Finance, 2014, J.D., 2017

"Choose a career that doesn’t feel like work because 40 years is a long time to do something you don’t love. Once you figure that out, take advantage of being a student, seek mentorship, internships (work for free if you must), travel abroad and chase your dreams. Take risks while you’re young; no one ever made it big by playing it safe. So, start that business, travel the world, leave the job you hate. Whatever it is, give it your all and enjoy it while you can."

Nicole Griffith

Multimedia Journalist, KDLT
Rapid City, SD
B.B.A. Media & Journalism, 2016

"My advice is to get involved. USD has more than 170 student organizations, extracurricular activities and clubs. It’s the skills you gain from the variety of experiences such as time management, learning to work with a variety of personalities and being able to come together for a common goal. These skills easily transfer over into the professional world."

Chad Hahler

Software Solutions Specialist, A&B Business Solutions
Sioux Falls, SD
Business Administration, 2014

"Get involved! Go outside your friend group and look to people who are not exactly like you. Take advantage of all the opportunities offered at USD to give back to the community and never be afraid to try something new. USD alumni are your best resources after you graduate to navigate the job market and to give life advice."

Eva Hecht

Audiologist & Business Owner, Fremont Audiology and Hearing Clinic
Fremont, NE
B.S. Communication Sciences and Disorders, 2012, Doctor of Audiology, 2016

"Soak it all up while you are there. Get involved in as many activities and organizations as you can while developing long-lasting relationships. I met my best friends, my husband and future business contacts while attending USD."

Sara Hento

Business Manager/Lawyer, Avon School District 4-1
Avon, SD
B.B.A. Accounting, JD/MPA, 2012, 2015

"My advice to current USD students would be to take advantage of the amazing opportunities and resources USD has to offer. Join the club! Seek out a professor to be a mentor! Use the facilities! Study abroad! USD truly has world class opportunities, professors and facilities that are at your fingertips."

Hannah Heyd

Criminal Intelligence Analyst, South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation
Sioux Falls, SD
English, 2011

"Be persistent in pursuing your goals even if your career takes some unexpected turns, and network as much as possible. I would not be where I am today without the relationships I built in previous jobs. Hard work and kindness do not go unnoticed and really lend themselves to getting a hand up in achieving your future career goals."

Leah Hoffman

Licensed Addiction Counselor, Williston State College
Williston, ND
M.A. Addiction Studies, 2016

"My advice to USD students and recent graduates is to get to know yourself well and engage in self-reflection often. The skills and knowledge you gain in the classroom are important, of course, but a strong sense of personal and professional integrity is invaluable. Your successes may ebb and flow, but maintaining consistent ethics and respect will give you credibility that not everyone has."

Teresa Johnson

Program Manager, Implementation & Engagement, National Multiple Sclerosis Society
San Diego, CA
B.A. Political Science, Mass Communications, 2013

"Be fearless and be relentless in your own pursuit of happiness. Don’t be afraid to be or feel different, and don’t follow a path just because someone else thinks you should. Focus on your own journey and make sure you know what it means to you to measure success and happiness, and only pay close attention to that."

Alexis Konstant

Commercial Projects and Broker Associate, Lloyd Companies
Sioux Falls, SD
B.B.A. Management, 2011

"Take care of yourself – physically, mentally, spiritually – so you can be fulfilled and contribute greatness to your community. And don’t forget to keep cheering on the USD Coyotes!"

Marcus Mahlen

Commercial Broker Associate, NAI Sioux Falls
Sioux Falls, SD
Business Administration - Marketing, 2015

"Get out and meet everyone you possibly can and connect with them on a more personal level! College is a time to get to know yourself and who you truly are, and I firmly believe the best way to do that is by getting to know others who you will learn from. No matter what your personal or professional pursuits are in life, these friends will help you along and come into play at some point in time."

Kelly Maxwell

Law Clerk, U.S. District Court for the District of S.D.
Sioux Falls, SD
Juris Doctor, 2018

"Take it in and enjoy your time at USD because it goes fast in Vermillion. Go to the athletic events, walk around campus, relax at Verm Beach, ride your bike around town, eat and be merry at all the local establishments. Soak it all up because before you know it, you’ll be graduating!"

Travis Miller

Franchise Owner, Outline Worldwide LLC DBA Profile by Sanford
Elkhorn, NE
Physical Education, 2011

"Work hard because someone else is out there working harder. Remember what you deem as hard is normal for others. Treat everyone like they are your mother or your idol because you never know who you are talking to or where they could take you. Go above and beyond."

Jillian Nelson

Accountant, Nelson & Nelson CPA's
Sioux Falls, SD
Accounting, 2013

"Get involved, get involved, get involved. I can’t say it enough. These four years fly by, but the experiences and people you meet will stay with you forever. I made some great friends because I joined organizations, and holding a position helps prepares you with skills you may not learn in a classroom. Plus, it gives you something to talk about in job interviews."

Sam Parkinson

Executive Director, South Dakota Democratic Party
Sioux Falls, SD
B.B.A. Political Science, 2015

"The biggest piece of advice I could give a student or recent grad is get involved. Getting involved introduces you to people that you wouldn’t interact with in your day to day life. The more people you get to know and the more people that get to know you will only benefit your personal and professional life. Getting involved is one of the main reasons that I’ve been able to move up in my career and learn, because I put myself out there."

James Payer II

Director of Development, Girl Scouts - Dakota Horizons
Sioux Falls, SD
Business Administration - HR Management, 2012

"Find a passion in life and build your fire around it. Take the time to identify and build a relationship with someone who you view as a mentor. And finally, never say no to an adventure. You never know where it might take you."

Steve Payne

Director of Operations, Avera eCare
Sioux Falls, SD
Health Services Administration, 2015

"Based on my experiences at USD and thus far throughout my career, my advice is to get involved, stay involved, challenge yourself, never stop learning and don’t forget how you got where you are. Thank those who helped you and pay it forward."

Rebekah Rinehart

Talent Booker & Manager of Affiliate Relations,
Chicago, IL
Communications Studies, 2013

"My advice is to always keep your word. Your character will reflect infinitely more than your education and degree, as that can only take you so far. People say, “Actions speak louder than words.” I agree; however, keeping your word is an action, and often, it is easier said than done. Do your best to keep your word. And may your word stay good, kind and true."

Eric Robertson

Vice President, Institutional Equity Sales at Northland Capital Markets
Maple Grove, MN
B.B.A. Marketing, 2016

"The best advice I could give to a current USD student or recent grad is to be proactive in your job search, use the amazing resources USD provides and reach out to individuals in your desired industry to expand your network of business contacts. This takes hard work, confidence and persistence but will prove to be a valuable investment in your future."

Patrick Siegling

Clinic Director, Avera
Brookings, SD
B.B.A. Health Services Administration, 2010

"The USD alumni network here and across the country is strong. Use it. You’d be surprised at the number of Coyotes doing incredible things in business, the arts and medicine who are happy to offer support and insight to eager students. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself via e-mail, invite that person to coffee or seek guidance from individuals doing things that you would like to do someday."

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."

Carrie Wintle

Miss South Dakota, Miss America Organization
Iroquois, SD
Mathematics and Accounting, 2017

"My advice to current students is to show up and be present. You will create some lifelong memories if you do."