Jan. 4, 2024
Finding the courage to meet new people and gain confidence didn’t come easy at first for Lucky Beddel.
The senior business administration and marketing double major struggled a bit as a freshman, but soon found her purpose on campus after joining student organizations, connecting with people in her program and making new friends.
“There’s been ups and downs, but overall I look back and I’m glad that I went to NDSU because I did have a lot of fun. I met so many cool people. I learned a lot about myself. I developed lifelong friendships and lifelong connections. And I think the snow developed me, too,” Beddel said. “It taught me to be resilient. And it taught me time management because if it’s icy, that 15-minute walk might turn into a 25-minute walk. So, you’ve got to be early.”
Beddel said she realized during her sophomore year the importance of speaking up and getting comfortable networking because of her business administration major. To become more comfortable talking to new people, Beddel joined the Business Connections mentoring program. The program, open to students in the College of Business, provides students guidance with established business professionals to build knowledge and skills.
Beddel was assigned a mentor who shared networking tips, resume advice and helped Beddel feel more comfortable in social settings.
“It helped shape me into being more confident and being better at holding conversations because that was something that I personally struggled with,” she said.
In addition to the Business Connections mentoring program, Beddel also joined the Somali Student Association her freshman year. The organization was one of the factors that led Beddel to choose NDSU and helped her connect with other students while easing the transition from high school to college.
“I definitely think it did make that jump easier being surrounded by other students and ease the anxiety of being a college student,” she said.
The SSA’s mission is to create an inclusive environment on campus for Somali students as well as for students wanting to learn more about Somali culture and heritage. In addition to the SSA connecting students on campus, the organization also does frequent outreach in the community.
As former vice president of the SSA, Beddel helped plan and organize Somali Night, an event highlighting Somali culture and heritage by featuring performances, food and fashion. Additionally, Beddel said the SSA has given presentations to local high schools and has received support from the Somali community in Fargo.
“A lot of our fundraising was from donations from the community. It meant a lot that all these people who had to personally overcome a lot of challenges to come here, like escaping war, getting citizenship, they overcame all these struggles so they could see their kids and other kids flourish,” she said. “It’s emotional thinking about it because they donated money, but they also donated their time volunteering because they want to see us succeed and they like that we represent a good part of the Somali community here in Fargo.”
Beddel, who later became the president of SSA in 2022, said being in a leadership position helped shape her into the person she is today.
“I think that shaped me the most because it was the biggest example of having to step out of my shell and be a leader and also cater to the community,” she said. “I was trying to help other students who maybe felt similar to what I did, to feel more confident and to not feel alone.”
Kaelen Napoleon, the diversity and inclusion coordinator with the Office of Multicultural Programs and SSA adviser, said the organization was started in 2018 by Somali students who wanted to see an organization on campus bringing awareness to Somali culture.
Napoleon said the organization has been going strong with students being adamant about speaking up on discrimination they have faced.
“They have had some experiences and while not letting that get them down or deter them from whatever their ambitions or goals are, they’re like ‘hey I want to address this and I want to try to share something about my culture,’” Napoleon said.
In 2021, SSA won the Commitment to Diversity Award through the Bison Leaders Awards. Members of the SSA have also participated in the “Talkback to Racism” event, which was started by the Anti-Racism Coalition, and is held every year.
Beddel’s advice for prospective students is to apply for scholarships to ease the financial burden, attend career fairs to practice networking, have fun learning class material, get involved in a student organization and learn from others.
“NDSU is so diverse, and not just diverse in terms of ethnicities or races, but backgrounds and stories,” she said. “People are from all different places across the country, across the world and everybody has their own story. It’s so cool to learn about and hear different perspectives because that helps open up your thinking as well.”
Beddel said she wishes she were more outgoing her freshman and sophomore years. Now in her last year at NDSU, Beddel notices how friendly people have been once she reaches out.
“I realize now my senior year that’s kind of on me as well. I know there’s other external factors that made me feel that uncomfortable, but at the same time I shouldn’t have been afraid to take that initiative because I’ve been doing that this year and I’ve met so many cool people,” she said. “But that’s definitely something I wish I didn’t do because I was holding myself back and I shouldn’t have done that.”