Finding the balance
Dakota Wesleyan student finds personal connections are integral to success.
Lila Gronseth, 21, keeps a busy schedule at Dakota Wesleyan University — Mitchell, S.D.’s home of the Tigers.
She’s in a mentorship program for local youth. She helps lead a bible study. She works at the Dakota Discovery Museum. For the university’s track and field team, she competes in the shot put, discus, hammer and weight throw.
She’s also graduating this spring after just three years — with a business degree and concentrations in finance and agriculture.
After all that hard work, there’s a lot of lessons she learned in the classroom. But one of the most important came as she connected with friends and mentors around campus.
“You’ll make time for things that are important to you,” she said. “I found that out real quick here. Because just with the professors and everyone I met, they wanted me to do what I love, and they encouraged me to seek things that I loved in life and wanted to pursue.”
Gronseth graduated from Hayfield High School, near Austin, Minn. She grew up on a turkey farm in rural Minnesota, and absorbed all the things that come with growing up in farm country — picking rocks or helping with crops and jumping headlong into 4-H, where Gronseth said she showed “anything that could walk, basically.”
“I actually was recruited for track and field,” Gronseth said of choosing Dakota Wesleyan, but said she was sold when the track coach told her about a program with nearby Mitchell Technical College program — where she could get an ag concentration to go with her degree.
“And I was like, ‘Well, that's perfect,’” she said.
Gronseth said she liked the small size of the campus, which struck her during her visit.
“I got to meet a lot of professors on that day, which was awesome, because it's probably my second school visit,” she said. “And the first one before it was much larger. And I didn't get to talk to any of the professors. So I just thought that was really cool.”
Christine Mauszycki, an associate professor of accounting, heads the business department at Dakota Wesleyan and is Gronseth’s advisor. She’s been instrumental in founding two partnerships with nearby Mitchell Technical College — one that Gronseth is using for her agriculture concentration, and another for construction management courses.
“Those partnerships are very popular,” Mauszycki said. “Students don't have to decide between Dakota Wesleyan and Mitchell Tech anymore, they can just do both and play their sport.”
Gronseth, her advisor said, has a bright future ahead of her.
“She is just really organized, super motivated, never complains. A sponge,” Mauszycki said. “Just wants to learn and learn and learn. It's great, she’s a joy.”
Gronseth is headed to an internship with Farm Bureau Insurance this summer, where she expects to shadow different jobs within the organization. She’s hoping to work either as an insurance agent or an ag underwriter, she said.
“I started off as an accounting major, but I just didn't like crunching numbers that much. But I do like the math side of things and just finance and managing all of that,” she said. “But I'm also a people person and I love engaging with people. So I wanted something that kind of balanced between helping with finances and also getting that customer relationship.”
And she said she’s still hanging onto some of the important lessons from Dakota Wesleyan.
“I'm just going to miss all the people that I met here,” she said. “I think it's very important to have people in your life that are more than just coworkers or people that you see once a week at church. I want to build those relationships that I can contact people every day.”