He was going to join the Air Force, become a pilot, and study to become a civil engineer.
"But I had taken an aptitude test when I was a junior," he told delegates to the 2006 session of Girls State last Friday.
Girls State concluded last weekend after holding a weeklong session on the campus of The University of South Dakota in Vermillion.
The test, he said, indicated he was best suited to be an insurance agent, or be actively involved in politics.
The rest, you could say, is history.
"In the Pierre area, we have an insurance business," Rounds said. "And when I went to college, I really enjoyed student politics."
He served as a member of the South Dakota State University Student Senate. "I also had a chance to intern for the Legislature when I was a junior in college, and that was a real eye opener for me."
He challenged the young women at Girls State to seek an internship with a South Dakota lawmaker when they continue their education after high school.
"It will be a great opportunity to learn how the system works," he said. "You will be able to see the challenges that the legislators must face, and you will also get a sense of the hard that is involved during the legislative session."
Rounds said working as governor is one of the most rewarding jobs a person could have.
"Some people think that if you are elected to office, it's like winning an award," he said. "It's not. Working as governor is like having a really good job."
Holding the office, he said, gives one the opportunity to not only identify a problem, but actually take action to fix it.
"Being governor gives you the opportunity to be involved in making a difference," he said. "I've had a chance, working as governor, to meet with some really good people, including many of our national leaders, and prime ministers and leaders from foreign countries."
When asked about the negative aspects of his job, Rounds admitted that he isn't able to spend as much time with his family.
"We used to spend a lot of time on the lake, and we used to go camping quite a bit," he said. "I think I was in our ski boat for three times all of last summer, and I haven't been fishing for two years now. But the trade-off is you only have this opportunity maybe once in a lifetime to really make a difference."
Rounds praised the Girls State participants.
"Not only have you studied hard, but you've also used the intellect that you have, you've done the hard work, and you've become successful," he said. "You have opportunities that are presented to you, and you've joined the ranks of the people who I term the best of the best. But you can't give up on yourselves."
Rounds told the young women that there will be times in the future when they will question whether they
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are doing the right thing. And, he said, they will question the amount of time they must devote to their studies.
"All of you should start to set big goals for yourselves," Rounds said. "Dream big. Never underestimate just how much you can do, and then don't just dream about it. Plan, and do the hard part. Do the hard work to make that plan a reality."
He told the delegates to remember that their parents have always supported them.
"They took take care of your needs, and they never gave up on you," Rounds said. "They believed in you. Now it's your turn. Believe in yourselves, and in what you can do. You can do anything that you put your mind to and you commit yourself to."
Rounds, who admitted earlier that he has the best job in the world, told the young South Dakotans to have fun as they seek a challenging career.
"Go through life with a smile on your face because you're doing what you want to do," he said. "If you find yourself going down the wrong path, the sooner you change to the next path, the better off you are."
In response to a question from a delegate, Rounds noted that South Dakota has created a support network to offer services to families of National Guard troops who have been called away from home to serve in Iraq.
"We still have 150 soldiers over there, and we have had over 3,000 of our National Guard men and women that have served overseas already," he said.
South Dakota is taking an active role in helping servicemen and women who have been in a war zone receive needed medical and psychological care.
South Dakotans troops and their families have joined their counterparts from across the country, he said, because the United States believes in the freedoms that other countries currently don't enjoy.
During this week, the young women of Girls State have made a special effort to honor South Dakotans who have served in the war in Iraq, and have given special recognition to those who have lost their lives.
"These men and women are not much older than you in many cases," Rounds said. "They've volunteered to take up this challenge. They've followed in defending this country like generations of young men and women have done in the past.
"Don't ever forget the sacrifice that these men and women have made for our benefit," he said. "When you see a veteran, or when you see someone proudly wearing a uniform of the United States of America, take the initiative � stand up, smile at them, and say ?thank you for your sacrifice.' "