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Your Success Story Starts Here

The Mustang Family is proud of our faculty, staff, students and alumni, each with an amazing story to share. Their stories illustrate the possibilities that are within your reach.

Choose a story and click the button to read more about people who started their journey at SMSU, just like you.

Your own success story starts right here.

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Background - Vaughn Gehle
Vaughn Gehle

Vaughn Gehle

'82 Alum

Biology

"When I began graduate school, I was afraid I wouldn’t measure up to my peers, who had graduated from some prestigious colleges and universities. I discovered my SMSU liberal arts education and Biology major coursework made me an intellectual equal to those who had paid much more for their education. SMSU gave me a world-class education at a community college cost."

Location

Marshall, MN

Occupation

Associate Professor of Biology

Background - Tyler Bowen
Tyler Bowen

Tyler Bowen

'08 Alum

Master of Science in Education

"My Southwest experience has taught me the value of a liberal arts education and that has allowed me to gain employment in areas that I did not directly study in school. The exposure to business, critical thinking, speech, education, travel and the arts has opened many doors and has enhanced my personal and professional life."

Location

Sioux Falls, MN

Occupation

Senior Vice President, Manager of Trust & Investment Department, First Dakota National Bank

Background - Satyajit Dattagupta
Satyajit Dattagupta

Satyajit Dattagupta

'07 Alum

Master of Business Administration

"I learned the science of data as an undergraduate and the art of recruiting with my MBA degree. There’s a big demand now for people who can understand data and use it to make decisions."

Location

New Orleans, LA

Occupation

Vice President for Enrollment Management & Dean of Admission

Background - Michael Walker
Michael Walker

Michael Walker

'98 Alum

Physical Education: Teaching

"My SMSU professors were committed to my success and went the extra mile to ensure I was taking care of business. Athletic participation in basketball also helped me develop dedication, determination, and drive – qualities that transfer to the workplace."

Location

Minneapolis, MN

Occupation

Director, Office of Black Male Student Achievement, Minneapolis Public Schools

Background - Kayleigh Karppinen
Kayleigh Karppinen

Kayleigh Karppinen

'08 Alum

Sociology

"Graduating from SMSU means that I have a face to go with the names of most of my classmates. I also learned that leaving a good impression on others can have a long-lasting impact."

Location

Minnetonka, MN

Occupation

Human Resource Generalist, Opportunity Partners

Background - Isiah Whitlock
Isiah Whitlock

Isiah Whitlock

'76 Alum

Speech Communications: Theater Arts

"Southwest prepared me. When I went to get my master’s at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, I look back and think the professors at Southwest were just as good as those I’ve met anywhere, and I’m even talking New York. Southwest was a wonderful place for me."

Location

New York, NY

Occupation

Professional Actor

Background - Erin Lind
Erin Lind

Erin Lind

'01 Alum

Sports Management

"It’s not about what I learned in Accounting 101 or Sports Law, although I enjoyed my experience in the classroom. It’s the experiences I had that taught me how to handle adversity, how to manage my success and failures, and how to communicate with diverse groups. My experiences taught me to have the highest level of expectation for myself and others."

Location

Burnsville, MN

Occupation

NSIC Commissioner

Background - David Verkinderen
David Verkinderen

David Verkinderen

'90 Alum

Business Administration

"Getting my degree from SMSU allowed me to stay close to home, get a great education at a very affordable price, and play two college sports. SMSU continues to be a part of my career, as many of our best and brightest employees come from a University that I believe in."

Location

Marshall, MN

Occupation

Senior Vice President, US Bank

Background - Darlene Sparkman
Darlene Sparkman

Darlene Sparkman

'05 Alum

Chemistry & Business Administration: Finance

"I have experienced many levels of education, but none filled with more supportive or genuinely caring individuals than SMSU faculty, whose focus was always to make their students successful."

Location

Waco, TX

Occupations

Plastic Surgeon at Baylor Scott & White Health, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery – Texas A&M

Background - Clare Duwelius
Clare Duwelius

Clare Duwelius

'14 Alum

Master of Business Administration: Leadership

"I feel that the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree in Business Administration from SMSU allowed me to chase my dream of finding a sports management career path that has been truly satisfying. I hope to lend guidance and assist with the development of young women and men who also have a vision and belief in their abilities to make a difference in their chosen field, just as I was afforded in my years at SMSU. "

Location

Minneapolis, MN

Occupation

Assistant General Manager – Minnesota Lynx

Background - Bruce Saugstad
Bruce Saugstad

Bruce Saugstad

'89 Alum

Computer Science

"My professors prepared me for my career. I met my wife and other life-long friends. As a captain of the football team, I learned leadership qualities, time management, and the value of hard work and persistence."

Location

Marshall, MN

Occupation

Senior Vice President & General Manager Ice Cream Division, Schwan’s Company

Background - Andrea Kopfmann
Andrea Kopfmann

Andrea Kopfmann

'07 Alum

Speech Communications: Radio/TV

"I learned to work toward deadlines and honed my organizational and professional skills. Many of my SMSU friends are still a part of my life. I had a blast at SMSU; it really fit my personality."

Location

St. Paul, MN

Occupation

Director of Campaigns & Partnerships, Give MN

Background - Abbie Allison
Abbie Allison

Abbie Allison

'10 Alum

Hospitality Management: Hotel and Event Management

"SMSU taught me to be a confident leader. I learned that having qualities such as enthusiasm, commitment, determination and patience are important skills for a successful career in any field, and in life in general."

Location

Minneapolis, MN

Occupation

Group Rooms Coordinator at DoubleTree by Hilton Bloomington Minneapolis South