Student speaker addresses personal growth at undergraduate commencement
Published May 14, 2012
Alisha Nord’s message to her classmates focused on taking lessons learned as an undergraduate and applying them in the future.
The Wolverton, Minn., native, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications, said she was thrilled to have been selected to represent her class at NDSU’s undergraduate commencement ceremony May 12. Nord said she couldn’t have asked for a better way to end her college career. “Our time here provides a stepping stone for growth and for students to move on and further their lives,” she said.
Nord said her fellow graduates have integrity and a reputation for being hard-working individuals. “We have a broad range of knowledge, talents and ideas. We will improve what we can, preserve what we should and embrace life with all that we have,” she said.
Her own inspirational story provides a lesson on persevering through obstacles. During the spring semester of her sophomore year, Nord was the swine superintendent overseeing the Little International Livestock Contest, which is the largest student-run agricultural event in the state. Nord became sick during the pressure-filled week leading up to the event. Following it, she ended up in the emergency room with a rare form of E. coli infection and spent several weeks in the hospital getting treatment that included blood transfusions.
“It was touch and go for about two days,” Nord said. “The doctors didn’t know what was wrong, and I was getting sicker each day. The way the illness progressed, they said after another day and a half I could have died if they didn’t figure out the diagnosis.”
Nord missed about a month of classes and recovery was slow after leaving the hospital. “It was extremely tough to come back from,” she said. “I was back at school, but I was still recovering. Even walking a few blocks to class tired me out. Those were the most frustrating things – not being able to be myself.”
Nord credits her professors and Ag Ambassador adviser Patti Sebesta with encouraging her to finish the semester. “Not only was I still recovering, but I was depressed about missing homework and all of the catching up,” she said. “Patti encouraged me to come back, and that she would be there to help me along the way. Patti is very student-focused.”
An active and outstanding student, Nord returned to NDSU and continued her involvement in an array of campus organizations, including Saddle and Sirloin Club, NDSU Color Guard, Freshmen Leadership Organization and Collegiate Cattlewomen’s Association. She also was active in the National Agri-Marketing Association, Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow and was voted 2011 homecoming queen.
She also serves on the National Junior Angus Association’s board of directors and represented the NDSU Ag Ambassador program at the Agriculture Future of America’s Leaders Conference.
“She approaches tasks with confidence and enthusiasm, always eager to learn and willing to lend a helping hand,” Sebesta wrote in a letter nominating Nord as commencement speaker. “Her organizational and leadership skills contribute to the success of many of our projects and activities.”
As an Ag Ambassador, Nord represented the College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources in prospective student outreach, alumni events and volunteering in the community. In addition, Nord volunteers with Riding on Angels Wings, Relay for Life, Kiddie Days, Living Ag Classroom, the Salvation Army, Churches United for the Homeless and the Fargo-Moorhead Dorothy Day House. “Volunteering has been a huge part of my life,” she said. “Being active in NDSU organizations has given me many opportunities to help out the surrounding community.”
Upon graduation, Nord plans to finish her term with the National Junior Angus Association before pursuing a career in the agricultural industry