Thursday, January 29, 2015
The Dakota Wesleyan University Department of Theatre was set to show a high-flying comedy, “Boeing, Boeing,” but after auditions and careful consideration has decided to change this spring’s production to “Bedroom Farce.”
The British comedy is set for March in the Patten-Wing Theatre on campus.
“With all DWU theatre shows, we as a department vote on what shows we would like to do from season to season,” said Dan Miller, theatre director. “Students will choose shows based on research, interests, popularity and classroom exposure. When auditions occurred for’ Boeing, Boeing’ one thing became very clear: students who were designing the show, drafting the show and acting in the show did not feel it was a show that would challenge them. At this stage in their studies, the majority of theatre majors felt we would be better off finding a show that truly excited them – intellectually, creatively.”
In answer to this, Miller presented the students the option of producing “Bedroom Farce,” a British comedy by Alan Ayckbourn, a playwright whom Miller studied with in Scarborough, England.
“The show is a beautiful production about relationships,” Miller said. “The relationship between married couples, boyfriends, girlfriends and parents. Along with that, this comedy takes place in three different bedrooms of three different homes with four different couples. It’s unique, it’s intriguing, it’s funny. …”
Production dates are: 7:30 p.m., March 20-21, 27-28, and 2 p.m., March 22, March 29, in Patten-Wing Theatre, Hughes Hall, on campus. Tickets are $7 for general public, $2 for DWU staff, faculty and students with a DWU I.D.
The cast for the production, directed by Dan Miller, is as follows:
Ernest – Ian Hyde
Delia – Alaina Bertsch
Nick – Chris Gollnick
Jan – Brittney Kaufmann
Malcolm – Jeffrey Holstein
Kate – Ann Thury
Trevor – Michael Hardwick
Susannah – Madi Miller
Scenic design: Ann Thury
Technical direction: Jake Habermann
Stage management: Lily Jones
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Dakota Wesleyan University theatre students recently returned from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF), bringing with them a distinction in stage management and possible job opportunities.
DWU junior Morgan Schoenfelder, Blue Earth, Minn., was awarded a Certificate of Merit for her professional approach and execution of stage management in last year’s DWU production of “Les Miserables.”
DWU, belonging to Region 5 of the KCACTF, attends the regional festival in each January along with North Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Minnesota. The region showcases its best productions, as well as offers activities, workshops, symposiums and the regional-level award program. This year’s festival was hosted by Normandale Community College, Bloomington with activities occurring there, the Ames Center in Burnsville and the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis.
There are also auditions for national scholarships and auditions for summer stock theatre and professional theatre jobs nationwide, said Dan Miller, DWU’s theatre director. Junior Madi Miller and freshman Alaina Bertsch, both of Mitchell, and junior Ian Hyde, Irvine, Calif., auditioned for professional theatres and Miller received five callbacks. She should hear back about the possibility for a summer theatre job in a month.
“This year, all Bachelor of Fine Arts theatre majors attended with about a thousand other students from our region,” Dan Miller said. “I was incredibly proud of our students.”
Madi Miller and Kurt Schwarzenbart, sophomore from Salem, were also entered in the Irene Ryan acting completion in which they and their partners had to prepare a three-minute acting scene, a two-minute acting scene and then each had to perform a one-minute monologue. They didn’t move on, but Dan Miller was happy with their performances.
“It was incredible competition with 314 actors and their partners in just the first round,” he said. “It’s great experience for the students, great exposure, and a chance for networking in the business.”
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
By Nick McCutcheon
DWU Sports Information Director
Every college student takes on countless assignments while in school, but few have the potential to create a movement for change on a topic that hits home directly or indirectly for many.
Five Dakota Wesleyan University students, four athletes and one athletic training major, took the opportunity presented by an assignment to do something bigger. In the fall of 2014, Dr. Alisha Vincent tasked the students in her social justice class to select a cause that they showed interest in and wanted to advocate for.
Domestic violence has been a hot button issue in professional sports over the last year and this was a topic covered in Vincent’s class that the group of Luke Bamberg, Spencer Bloch, Augustus Haskell, Skylar Forgey and Rachel Reichel gravitated toward.
The five DWU students identified the need to create awareness to help end domestic violence amid the swarm of occurrences coming out of the National Football League and other professional sports in recent months. The members of the class and the male student-athletes at DWU have taken a pledge created by the group from Vincent’s class to help end domestic violence.
“We had reviewed the scandals involving athletes engaged in domestic violence, and so this group seemed to gravitate toward wanting to take that cause on at a collegiate level,” Vincent said. “During the research phase, they recognized how little is done to prevent, stop and educate college athletes about domestic violence.”
Reaching those at DWU was not enough for the architects of the pledge. They want more awareness and additional support from the rest of the Great Plains Athletic Conference and beyond. The GPAC Domestic Violence Pledge Challenge has been issued by DWU to the rest of the conference to say “No More!”
When GPAC Commissioner Corey Westra caught word of the movement coming out of DWU he passed it along to the rest of the conference. Westra went to the administrators, coaches and athletes of the other 10 GPAC members asking them to join the fight and take the pledge.
"To my knowledge this is the first time I can remember a school in the GPAC making a call for action from the other league members and that is pretty special,” Westra said. "This is a great cause to get behind and I think it's very important for our college male student-athletes to be reminded that they can do their part to end domestic violence."
The following is included in the pledge being sent out by Westra to the GPAC schools:
“We proudly pledge our support to become a part of the solution to end domestic violence. By signing this declaration, we are taking a public stand against domestic violence. We commit to creating a community that no longer tolerates domestic violence. In doing so, we pledge to further our knowledge and understanding of the issue and we pledge to use our influence to prevent others from using violence in their relationships. We pledge to use our position as men and leaders to help boys, young men, family members and friends understand that domestic violence is never acceptable and to teach that manhood and strength are not defined by violence or domination.”
For Reichel, a senior athletic training major from Mitchell, ending domestic violence is a personal cause. Reichel’s best friend had someone close to her that was killed by her boyfriend at the age of 19 after she broke off a relationship.
“She was only 19,” Reichel said. “I didn't know her personally, but her story hits close to home because she was so young. Her parents continue to speak about her situation to high school students.”
Senior men’s basketball player Luke Bamberg, a business administration major from Corsica, S.D., said Reichel’s story motivated the group and made them move forward even stronger with making the pledge as far reaching as it can be.
When the movement started at DWU, the response from students was very positive, according to Bamberg. He also pointed to the faculty and staff at DWU showing their praise for the pledge and adding support for what these five students have been trying to accomplish.
“This effort by our students exemplifies the character, courage and conviction our student athletes feel about domestic violence,” DWU President Amy Novak said. “Particularly impressive is their commitment to taking this pledge beyond the classroom and our campus in an effort to truly create positive change among athletes across our conference and the NAIA. This initiative reminds us that student athletes have the potential to impact more than just the game or the match, but truly the communities in which they live.”
Bamberg added that the group has looked into expanding the pledge by partnering up with the Mitchell Safe House to provide contributions and awareness.
“We had the mindset to take this project as far as it could go,” Bamberg said. “I think for the class advocacy project that we started, it has already been a success for where it was and what it developed into. Our aspirations were for men's football and basketball teams to sign the pledge and take action to stop domestic violence.”
Reichel and Bamberg, along with football players Spencer Bloch (Scotland, S.D.) and Augustus Haskell (Dell Rapids, S.D.), and track and field and cross country runner Skylar Forgey (Colome, S.D.) have taken a small class project from the drawing board to a movement that can build awareness. With the support of the GPAC, the pledge has moved to a regional level, but the students want to see the rest of the country get on board.
“It was important to get more colleges involved and understand the seriousness of the issue,” Reichel said. “A lot of times it gets brushed under the rug and no one wants to talk about it. I would love to see it go to every college in the country. I think it is already successful. It is already spreading to more colleges and teams.”
Monday, January 26, 2015
A desire to ensure the supply of future nurses in Huron led Paul and Donna, “Muffy.” Christen to create an endowment which will provide nursing scholarships to students willing to commit to working five years in Huron.
“Muffy and I have always been concerned about the availability of quality local healthcare, and in particular having local nursing education to keep the supply of nurses strong,” said Paul Christen. “Nursing education has a long history in Huron and it is imperative we make it convenient and affordable for local students to pursue a rewarding career in healthcare in Huron.”
The Christens created the Christen Dakota Wesleyan Nursing Scholarship Endowment with the South Dakota Community Foundation by investing $1 million dollars in late 2014. The interest from the fund will be used to provide nursing scholarships into perpetuity.
The first scholarship offerings are two, four-year bachelor of science nursing degree scholarships at Dakota Wesleyan University (DWU). The four-year program can be completed at the Mitchell campus and through clinical education sites in Huron. Christen has also enlisted the support of the Huron Regional Medical Center board of directors to offer two additional four-year scholarships. In return, the four recipients of the Build Huron Nursing Scholarships will commit to working as registered nurses at HRMC or a clinic in Huron for five years.
“We are pleased to join the Christens in encouraging local students to obtain nursing degrees and then come back to work at HRMC. We also appreciate everyone who has been instrumental in providing local nursing education since the hospital opened 1947,” said David Dick, HRMC president and CEO. “We know from history that if a nursing student can receive at least part of his or her education in Huron, they are much more likely to stay here for their nursing career.”
DWU is supporting the effort by offering discounted tuition to the scholarship recipients, making it even more affordable for the students to complete their BSN degree and return to Huron to work as a registered nurse. The scholarships will cover all yearly tuition and fees except for $4,000 which is the responsibility of the student.
These nursing education scholarship offerings are a result of ongoing work by the Huron Community Campus Nursing Task Force, which was created to address the nursing education needs in the Huron area. Huron Community Campus (HCC) announced earlier this month a new partnership with Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) to offer an 11-month licensed practical nurse (LPN) program. After completing the LPN program, interested students can pursue a two-year associate degree in nursing through LATI’s LPN-Associate Degree Nursing Program which is offered by the University South Dakota. Upon completion of the program, the graduate will be able to test for the registered nurse licensure exam.
“Huron is our home and we are committed to doing what we can to support the delivery of quality healthcare here, while at the same time supporting nursing education opportunities,” said Christen. “We will continue to work with the taskforce to find creative ways to make it easy and affordable for local students to pursue a career in healthcare.”
Applications for the Build Huron Nursing Scholarship Program are available by contacting DWU admissions at 800- 333-8506 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications for the Practical Nurse Program are now being accepted at HCC and must be completed by March 6 for the fall 2015 semester. For more information or to talk about a career in nursing through education in Huron, contact HCC Executive Director Doug Pietz at 353-8518 or email@example.com.
Monday, January 26, 2015
The Weekend Snack Pack Program, in conjunction with Dakota Wesleyan University, is asking sports fans to Snack Pack the Palace at Saturday’s Tiger basketball game.
DWU’s Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO) Club is organizing an awareness event for the Weekend Snack Pack Program during the DWU vs. Doane College game Saturday, Jan. 31, at the Corn Palace. The DWU baseball team will sell 50/50 raffle tickets with the winner drawn during halftime of the men’s game, and all proceeds will go toward the Weekend Snack Pack program. The women’s game begins at 2 p.m. and the men’s at 4 p.m.
Raffle tickets for the 50/50 drawing will be sold at a table near the entrance and are $1 each, six for $5, 13 for $10, or 25 for $20. People can also donate snack food items toward the Weekend Snack Pack Program at the raffle table.
The Weekend Snack Pack Program provides one bag of easy-to-prepare meals and snacks for local elementary students. Foods given include things like ravioli or macaroni and cheese, with a snack and either a fruit or a vegetable. The program was created to help children who primarily stay home alone on the weekends, have something nutritious and easy to make.
The Weekend Snack Pack Program was begun by Cindy Novachich in 2010 and currently delivers about 375 weekly packs to four local elementary schools: L.B. Williams, Longfellow, Gertie Belle Rogers and John Paul II.
If interested in donating toward the Weekend Snack Pack Program or volunteering to pack meals, please contact Novachich at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 605-770-5832. Individuals may stop by during packing times to lend a hand, or service organizations can sign up as a group. Also, there are bins located outside of Hughes Hall for food donations to be dropped off.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Kimberly Lofgren knew she wanted a flexible online M.B.A. degree program to fit into her active life as a mother of two young children and the director of finance and administration at Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce/Mitchell Area Development Corp.
She also wanted a program that would develop skills and knowledge she could use in her career—even before she completed her M.B.A.
Kimberly found that in the Master of Business Administration—Strategic Leadership degree program at Dakota Wesleyan University.
“The courses in the online M.B.A. program have enabled me to broaden my thinking and understanding of the business environment, allowing me to understand the issues small businesses face and how best to solve their problems,” she says.
Kimberly earned an associate’s degree in accounting in 2001 at Mitchell Technical Institute and a bachelor’s in accounting at DWU in 2005. As a DWU alumna, Kimberly knew the type of education she could expect from DWU. The online format of DWU’s M.B.A. also fit perfectly into her busy life.
“Between work and busing kids to activities, I have found that I can log in and complete my homework in the evening while they are sleeping,” she says.
If you’re trying to decide if the time is right to pursue your M.B.A. at DWU, Kimberly advises: “Go for it.”
DWU’s online M.B.A. is specifically designed to prepare graduates to be successful in small and medium-sized businesses. It can be completed in as little as 12 months.
Request more information now.
If you started your degree path at a technical institute like Kimberly did, and still need to complete your bachelor’s degree before you can pursue an M.B.A., consider DWU’s online Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership.
Categories: Blog: Online Degrees @ DWU, News,
Monday, January 19, 2015
The 2014 fall semester dean’s list at Dakota Wesleyan University includes 238 students.
To qualify for the dean’s list, a student must have a semester grade point average of at least 3.5 on a four-point scale. They also have to complete at least 12 hours of academic work during the semester. The following students have been named to the dean’s list.
Aberdeen — Ariana Arampatzis, Kristin Brandt, Thomas Hogg
Alexandria — Kendra Cheeseman, Timothy Leach
Armour — Lydia Ymker
Baltic — Nathan Stadem
Belle Fourche — Tyler Burr
Blunt — Macey Chambers
Bowdle — Elizabeth Anderson
Box Elder — Lisa Stanley
Britton — Jade Hoisington
Brookings — Bailey Gummer, Katelynn Runge
Burke — Jay Determan, Skyler Heyden, Turner Serr
Canistota — Dylan Lynde, Chloe Nielsen, Alex Roberston, Trevor Schroeder
Canton — Abigail Fossum, Jared Stearns
Cavour — Brent Matter
Chamberlain — Makenna Hancock
Colome — Michael Rohde
Corsica — Kris Menning, Lacey Reimnitz, Kayla Vanden Hoek
Crooks — Trae Bergh, Tyler Bergh
Dell Rapids — Dylan Ljunggren, Tanner Munk, Trevor Peter
DeSmet — Grayson Gruenhagen
Dimock — Tanner Weber
Elk Point — Amy Zeller
Estelline — Daniel Mitchell
Ethan — Chase McBrayer, Cody McBrayer, Kira Stammer
Faith — Shanna Selby
Fedora — Cal Wiese
Garretson — Dustin Steckler, Patrick Whetham
Harrisburg — Savanah Debelts, Heather Willet, Heidi Willet
Hartford — Caleb Heiberger, Madison Kuehl
Hot Springs — Brady Besco
Howard — Andrew Schwader
Hurley — Celeste Beck, Stephen Lee
Huron — Caleb Carr, Alexis Fiorini, Ashley Gaddis
Iroquois — April Leichtenberg, Shelby Matthews
Lake Andes — DiMera Dvorak, Nichole Dvorak, Kelsey Kniffen
Lake Preston — Cole Casper
Letcher — Nadine Cota, Alicia Vermeulen
Madison — Cody Warns, Kelsey Warns
Mellete — Landon Fischbach
Miller — Shaney Davis
Mitchell — Sandra Baker, Tatyana Brown, Alexandra Christensen, Tegan Elliot, Kirsti Garrett, Kayla Geraets-Majercik, Brent Havlik, Courtney Hellman, Matthew Howlett, Krista Huber, Brittney Kaufmann, Julia Kaus, Emma Kelly, Collette Krutsch, Katherine Lazenby, Serina Lesnar, Cynthia Loseke, Mareisha Marvin, Dezarae McGuire, Heather Merry, Dillon Miles, Madison-Ainsley Miller, Chelsea Moody, Christopher Nemec, Christina Petersen, Rachel Reichel, Katie Sanderson, Joshua Schmitz, Samuel Schumacher, Tara Tollefson, Jared Van Winkle, Briana Weiss, Elise Wibben
Mount Vernon — Jordan Adam, Sara Deinert, Jodi Doering, Emma Otterpohl, Delayna Paulson
Onida — Michael Stier, Ryan Yackley
Parkston — Ann Thury, McKenzie Weidenbach
Philip — Kaci Oliver
Pierre — Matthew Bader, Rebecca Ehrenfried, Michael Hardwick, Alexander McGuigan, Travis Moodie, Tyson Moodie
Platte — Shelby Burket, Kennedi Travis
Presho — Stetsen Eriksen
Pukwana — Anna Pazour
Rapid City — Samuel Britt, Paige Hendricks, Jarrick Jensen, Megan Johnson
Redfield — Shayna Frost
Renner — Shelby Vosburg
Salem — Kurt Schwarzenbart
Scotland — Aisha Abbink, Spencer Bloch, Haley Brunke, Samantha Geiman
Sioux Falls — Kelsey Cook, Alexander Famestad, Alison Jones, Kylie Keiser, Brooklyn Oehlerking, Megan Peltier, Cierra Schneider, Zachary Schneider
South Shore — Jordan Buchholz
Spearfish — Jennifer Kriese
Springfield — Chesney Nagel
Stickney — Adam Bormann
Tabor — Dakota Bodden
Tea — Andrew Becker
Tulare — Joesph Mitchell
Tyndall — Travis McDonald, Tyra Patzlaff, Tara Ronke
Vermillion — Hannah Ford
Volga — Tyson DeGroot
Wagner — Allison Cimpl, Justine Soukup
Warner — Mallory Jark, Briana Jung
Watertown — Emily Pengilly, Nicholas Tschakert
Waubay — Jonathan Wieger
Wessington Springs — Lexi Olinger
White — Autumn Schmidt
White Lake — Beau Byrd, Jazmyn Hinker
Winner — Austin Calhoon, Anthony Husher, Sara Husher, Austin Schroeder, Tyler Vavra
Wolsey — Ashley Styer
Woonsocket — Amber Hiles, Emily Olson
Yale — Lexy Timm
Out of State
Bakersfield — Colleen Hannum
Chula Vista — Alexandra Davis
Lancaster — Kathryn Anderus
North Hollywood — Anthony Cervantes
Ore Grande — Hannah Harbour
Pearblossom — Trever Devestern
Arvada — Jerry Stravia
Fort Collins — Michael Claar
Loveland — Dyrani Clark
George — Sarah Kruse
Hawarden — Kelby Van Wyk
Little Rock — Madeline DeBeer
Driggs — Sean Riley
Kellogg — Keagen Hadley
Tetonia — Braiden Jorgensen
Villa Park — Hayden Adams
Albert Lea — Rebecca Allen
Chaska — Peter Wartenberg
Dawson — Sarah Zaiser
Finlayson — Susan Behrens
Forest Lake — Samantha Forslund
Heron Lake — Alex Meyer
Jasper — Sawyer Gibson
Kerkhoven — Jonah Johnson
Marshall — Brooke Louwagie
Pipestone — Katie Brockberg
Ramsey — Amber Bray, Ashley Bray
Rochester — Bryce Berletic
Worthington — Cassandra Landgaard
Parnell — Barbara Mullock
Ravenwood — Kathy Brand
Corvallis — Jake Capko
Missoula — Alecia VanTassel
Roundup — Marissa Soderberg
Fargo — Matthew Hockert
Surrey — Taylor Kuhn
Blair — Adam Jahnel
Gordon — Macy Piper
Juniata — Ciera Eisele
Mead — Katherine Johnson
Norfolk — Cassandra Fink, Caitlin McLouth, Jerrett Mills
Omaha — Lillian Jones
Polk — Mackenzie Stevens
Seward — Kellan Willet
Belen — Xavier Armijo
Sound Beach — William Lutjen
Lantana — Jonathon Knight
Schertz — Taylor Spence
Casper — John Fabrizius
Cheyenne — Savannah Minder
Douglas — Jamie Geho
Gillette — Tyler Fortuna, Alexis Wilde
Jackson — Christian Doyle
Merritt — Benjamin McNiven
Rosenfeld — Nathen Smith
Winnipeg — Lorissa Loeppky, Hailey Unger
Dortmund — Christopher Juettemeier
Muscat — Thara Ali Said
Sodertalje — Gabriella Frykbo
Friday, January 16, 2015
Pick up a passport and travel the world – in less than an hour.
The annual Around the World Cultural Festival is set for mid-February at Dakota Wesleyan University.
The festival will take place from noon to 1 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 12, in the East Main Dining Room upstairs in the Rollins Campus Center on campus. Booths set up by DWU students, staff, faculty and even community members, represent countries and cultures from around the world. The event is free and open to the public.
This is the university’s 12th year and 13th festival and DWU’s Kate Miller, director for Student Support Services and adviser for the DWU Student Diversity Council, is inviting community members to participate.
“Around the World is fun on both sides of the table,” Miller said. “Students and community members are exposed to different cultures, sometimes foods, and have a chance to talk to people from different countries or those who have visited them. For the people who volunteer to run a booth, it’s a chance to share something they know or have experienced.
“More importantly, the event promotes diversity appreciation.”
Visitors to the festival are issued a “passport” and take a “world tour” around the room stopping by each booth. Completed passports are turned in for a prize drawing. Prizes are fair trade cultural items from the store, Ten Thousand Villages.
The Mitchell community is encouraged to take part in the event and register as a presenter. If interested in hosting a table, sign up by contacting Miller at 995-2901, or by email at email@example.com.
Thursday, January 15, 2015
By Jacki Miskimins
For The Daily Republic
EDITOR’S NOTE: Palace City Profiles is an ongoing series of community members’ stories, introducing us to our neighbors and the personalities that call Mitchell home. If you have suggestions for individuals or families with a great story, please contact Jacki Miskimins at 996-1140.
Demographers and statisticians refer to the Mitchell area as a “Micropolitan.” Commentators say “flyover country,” and others see the region as simply rural; and yet, the region is home to a variety of career and educational opportunities that belie the relatively small population.
Unaware of these opportunities, many people from the region think they have to head to larger cities to pursue their dreams; cities where they may have to compromise their career for their family, or vice versa.
Fredel Thomas was one. Originally from Tripp, she says she was headed for New York City.
“I was going to be a big city girl, I was just sure of it,” she recalls.
Plans changed, though, when she lost her mother during college.
“After that, it was all about family. Being close to my dad and younger sister and brother, watching them grow up. New York City was out.”
And with it, she thought, her big ambitions.
Pursuing a degree in Computer Science at the University of South Dakota, Fredel worried that she would have to taper her career goals to live close to her family. Instead, she’s found professional and personal opportunities in Mitchell that she never dreamed possible.
Her first big break came in the form of an internship with Martin Group (now CHR) between her junior and senior years in college. The technical culture was a perfect environment to apply her education, and before she graduated, she was extended an offer to join the company full-time.
In her 12 years with the company, Fredel pursued opportunities in all areas of the business.
With experience in sales, quality assurance, and seemingly everything in between, she was eventually promoted to the Director of Product Management. In that role, she had the opportunity to start multiple lines of business within the company — “intrapreneurship,” as she calls it. She also, through travel, had the chance to experience life in a bigger city; and realized that it was not the big life she had formerly dreamed of.
“There was a period of time where I was frequently in Seattle. And the more I was there, the more I realized I wanted to be here. This pace, this community, is such a better way of life for me and my family.”
Her tenure and experience also put her in a position to make a career transition that surprised even her, when she accepted a position as the Director of the Kelley Center at Dakota Wesleyan University.
“I got caught off guard — again! — at the opportunities right here. And I was grateful that my experience had prepared me so well for this type of a career change.”
It turned out to be an exact fit, even providing her the opportunity to complete her MBA in Strategic Leadership from DWU while she worked.
Flexible scheduling, a family-friendly atmosphere, an elementary school right on campus, and it being a faith-based institution have made Dakota Wesleyan an ideal place for Fredel to work, while Mitchell remains her ideal community.
“I didn’t have to compromise,” she says with pride. “Neither did my family.”
Her husband, Jason, has built a career in the telecommunications industry, a major player in the local technology scene. Their children, meanwhile, have access to personal, high-quality education and exceptional public parks, and family-focused health care options.
Despite a life spent near the Mitchell region, Fredel is still in awe of the options her eyes have been opened to. “Not only can you develop an amazing career, you can also develop skills here that transition when you make a career change. You are not locked in to just one company or just one path.”
When Fredel Thomas gave up dreams of New York City, she did not have to compromise any of her ambitions; in fact, she was able to go further than she had ever imagined.
“I never thought I could get to where I am today, in Mitchell. But now I realize that I never could have done it anywhere else.”
Thursday, January 15, 2015
By CANDY DENOUDEN
The Daily Republic
It’s not just business as usual for Dakota Wesleyan University.
As DWU staff and faculty prepare to resume classes next week, a growing contingent of students won’t roll suitcases into dorm rooms or trudge across a snow-covered campus with books. Instead, they’ll log on to DWU’s online offerings.
Last year, DWU launched its online master’s in business administration program, the first graduate program in business for the college, and will kick off a new online degree completion program this spring. It enables the university to reach a niche audience, and serve a growing need for working professionals, university officials said.
“We recognize that college no longer ends at 22 for people,” Dakota Wesleyan President Amy Novak said. “Education, ongoing learning, is absolutely vital and necessary to being competitive.”
Novak said the decision to start an online MBA program at Dakota Wesleyan was generated by interest from business leaders in the region who were interested in graduate-level education geared toward small- to mid-sized businesses. Novak said many MBA programs cater to corporate America, or larger business models when most of the business owners and managers in Mitchell and the area serve small, often family owned, shops.
“We recognize that the heart of South Dakota, and frankly, the heart of our region, are small and medium enterprises,” she said.
The professors come from a range of different backgrounds and industries, Novak said, but they all bring a practical, real-world relevance that helps set DWU’s program apart, she added. Finding a balance of people who are qualified to teach, but who also have real-world experience was a major goal for the program, Novak said.
“Our courses are taught by people who have been in the workplace,” she said. “We want people who have been really good in business, but educated as well.”
‘Not everybody’s going to get a corporate job’
Monty Bohrer, an associate professor of business administration and economics at Dakota Wesleyan and the director of the business graduate program, said while the traditional MBA model is valuable, DWU’s program seeks to fill a unique, niche role for people in smaller business and leadership roles.
“We feel there’s a need to fulfill that aspect,” he said. “Not everybody’s going to get a corporate job.”
In a corporate job, Bohrer said people’s jobs are likely more distinct. For instance, he said someone developing a marketing strategy at a large corporation would be surrounded by specialists, and would likely have a large pool of resources. In a small- to mid-sized business, one person might be in charge of executing an entire marketing strategy.
“What we’re trying to develop is a well-rounded expert in the area of marketing. You’re able to handle the branding side, the strategy side, distribution side,” he said. “You’re going to get a little bit broader perspective.”
Another difference, he said, is the focus on the practical. While some MBA programs may focus on the theory behind concepts, Bohrer and the other professors with DWU try to focus on how to apply those concepts in day-to-day job scenarios.
“Instead of talking about all the strategies there are involved, we’re going to take it down one more level and say, ‘OK, how do you apply those in a small- or mid-sized business?’ ” he said.
Bohrer’s work experience includes time with businesses like General Motors Acceptance Corporation, Godfather’s Pizza, Oracle Software, Holiday Inn and Gateway Computers, among others. He said those jobs have given him a wide range of experiences, and help him understand how the different components of business work together – which he can communicate to his students.
“I understand how marketing and accounting and finance and economics and management all integrate, and how one can effect the other,” he said.
Novak said in addition to the online MBA program, DWU offers four master’s in education degrees online, a bachelor’s degree completion program for associate’s degrees in nursing. This spring, she said the college will also kick off an online bachelor’s degree completion program for students with two-year technical degrees, or who had to quit halfway through college before obtaining their degree.
She referenced it being a good option for students from Mitchell Technical Institute, who might have a two-year degree, who later decide they’d like to get a four-year degree. With the online program, Novak said those students can complete the remaining two years at Dakota Wesleyan to receive a bachelor’s degree in a flexible, online format that allows them to continue working.
“We’re excited about that,” Novak said. “This recognizes that what they earned in that technical degree is very strong, we just want to build on that and give them some additional leadership and business skills so they can advance professionally within their organization.”
Novak said the online programs have been growing. Bohrer said seven people have graduated from the MBA program, and Novak estimated about 120 students are enrolled in online programs, out of Dakota Wesleyan’s 875-student enrollment.
Fredel Thomas, director of the Kelley Center for Entrepreneurship at Dakota Wesleyan, was part of the first class for the new MBA program, and finished in August.
Thomas, 36, said she worked for CHR Solutions for 12 and a half years before DWU, and said she enjoyed the knowledge and real-world experience she gained during that time. But once she started working at Dakota Wesleyan, where some of her duties include teaching undergraduate entrepreneurship classes and working with small businesses and organizations to encourage entrepreneurship in the area, Thomas wondered if it might be time to further her education.
“One of my jobs is that I help small business – well, what a better way than to be educated with my MBA?” she said.
Thomas said students have the option to finish the program in one year or two. She hesitated to tackle the one-year program, fearing how she would balance a full-time job, family – she is married, and has four children under the age of 7 – and a full course load.
After learning she could switch to the two-year program if she decided the one-year was too intensive, Thomas said she decided to give it a whirl. Now that it’s over, she’s glad she went for it.
“I gave it a try, and I was really glad I did it in one year,” she said.
Thomas said it’s a lot to do in one year, and it did necessitate a few sacrifices on her part. She got a little less sleep, and had to say no to a few other things for a while. Evenings worked best for Thomas to work on assignments, and the time commitment varied with the assignment and the course.
“Sometimes it was 45 minutes, other times it was two hours a night,” she said.
She had a corner set aside in her house, with her computer and books. When Thomas was there, her family knew she was working on school. When she put her computer away for the last time after completing the program, she said her daughter exclaimed, “You’re really done.”
“She was so excited,” Thomas said.
During her courses, Thomas said she was able to learn about different tools businesses can use, and things that are relevant to her own work at Dakota Wesleyan.
“I was able to use those to really research and dig in my MBA program, so I was getting work done and school done all at the same time,” she said.
More than just reading, writing
The online program includes the traditional reading and writing aspects of education, Thomas said, but doesn’t end there. Students had hands-on projects and simulations, like a realistic analysis of financial statements or a simulation where students ran their own airline. Having professors who come from a business or entrepreneurial background meant students didn’t just learn concepts and theories – they learned application.
“It was never just theory. It was very practical,” she said.
Thomas also appreciated the program’s incorporation of Christian values and ethics into the curriculum, which she said made the education feel more “wholistic.” She said in one course, the students read several books pertaining to different views on leadership, and then had to choose their own personal leadership style. Thomas was able to build a model of her own that was Christ-centered, and reflected her own values.
“We didn’t shy away from talking about that, and what that means from an ethical standpoint,” Thomas said. “I was able to tie my faith into my education, in that scenario.”
Novak said that has always been a priority for the program – to make the curriculum not just practical, but in line with Dakota Wesleyan’s faith-based values, as well.
“It’s of course grounded in our mission to develop strong, ethically minded leaders,” Novak said.
Thomas also praised the professors in the program, noting they lend real-world, practical experience to the coursework, and were accessible to students who needed extra help. She also admits that even though she wasn’t sure what to think of the online format at first, she now believes it was the best option for her.
“It will really work with your home life, because it’s so flexible,” she said of the MBA program as a whole. “It has a good structure.”
Now that she has her MBA, Thomas said it has expanded her opportunities at DWU. She could possibly teach for the MBA program, and is on a strategic team for the college.
“It gives me tools I need to serve Dakota Wesleyan better,” she said. “My job doesn’t change, but some of my duties have been enhanced.”
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