University education offers wealth of opportunities

University education offers wealth of opportunities University of South Dakota graduate Dustin Johnson is a perfect example of the value of a public university degree in South Dakota.

Immediately upon graduation, Johnson began employment with the National Rural Development Partnership in the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. In addition to this employment opportunity, Johnson also has graduate school and research opportunities available to him. Johnson, a Pierre native, chose employment at this time and told President James W. Abbott, "My goal is to return to South Dakota in the future to help towns and cities with economic development."

Public university students gain tremendous learning opportunities and receive wonderful hands-on opportunities with state-of-the-art technology and involvement in activities. Johnson, who had a 4.0 grade point average, was a student senator and served as president of Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He also was business manager of the USD independent student newspaper, The Volante, chaired the USD Program Council's News and Views Committee and served as president of the Political Science League.

"Our students achieve at a high level," Abbott said. "Look at what Dusty did at USD. And now he is continuing to do great things with the absolute commitment to come home someday and be a leader in this state. He shows the capacity of public university students to have great leadership and money-making capacity. He is an example of students who can go anywhere and do almost anything they want to do."

Abbott, with the other South Dakota public universities' presidents and South Dakota Board of Regents Executive Director Robert T. "Tad" Perry, held a news conference Oct. 29 promoting public higher education. The news conference kicked off an information campaign funded by the universities' alumni scheduled to begin Nov. 5 in statewide television broadcasts.

The statewide public relations campaign's most visible element will be three-minute televised presentations during the halftime of the South Dakota High School Football Playoffs next weekend and the South Dakota High School Girls Basketball Championship Nov. 18-20. KELO-TV will televise the football championships and the girls basketball tournament games.

In addition, presidents will promote public higher education by showing the video to service clubs and alumni gatherings.

According to data from the South Dakota Department of Labor, a college degree means $700,000 to $1 million more in career earnings versus a high school diploma and $200,000 to nearly $700,000 versus a two-year vocational technical applied degree. The earnings advantages were calculated using figures developed independently by the South Dakota Department of Labor's Market Information Center.

"High school seniors are in the process of making a very important life decision. We have a message that earning a degree in South Dakota at one of its public universities is the right choice. This is an economic decision, but it is also a choice that can enable our sons and daughters to be all they can be and do all they want to do," said Abbott.

Abbott noted that selecting USD or any of the other universities also positively impacts the future of South Dakota by keeping the young and talented leaders in this state.

"As you make a decision on your future, please learn as much as you can about the state universities. We offer tremendous opportunities for almost any job around. And once you graduate, your earning potential is outstanding. The track record shows that you will have success and that the communities of South Dakota and the region will be the benefactors. Remember, we can build a great future together," Abbott said.

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