Dec. 6, 2023

Commencement speaker: ‘Follow the things that excite you’


As artificial intelligence changes the landscape graduates are entering, NDSU graduating senior Simon Kroll wants his fellow graduates to know that their experiences make them unique individuals who cannot be imitated by technology. 

“The one thing AI can’t replace is you. You have distinct experiences and the character of who you are as a person and how you interact with others is irreplaceable,” said Kroll, who was selected as class representative to address the 5 p.m. commencement ceremony scheduled for Friday, Dec. 15, in the Sanford Health Athletic Complex.

The ceremony will include graduates from the College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources; College of Business; College of Engineering; and Interdisciplinary Studies.

Kroll decided he wanted AI to be the main focus of his speech after learning about the technology in his classes, along with how relevant it has become in today’s society.  

“I think with the technology’s advancement there are a lot of exciting possibilities, but there’s also a lot of concern. Questions like will AI take our jobs? How will it affect academic honesty? I wanted to use this theme to go back to some of the qualities that you develop in college beyond just the credentials,” said Kroll, who is earning his Bachelor of Science degree in computer engineering. “That’s kind of the second theme that came out of my speech, this idea of credentials versus character. Not just the piece of paper that you get after four years here, but the experiences you get that shape you as an individual, and how you will continue to change through your life experiences.” 

Throughout his time at NDSU, Kroll has been involved in Farmhouse Fraternity, where he gained leadership skills, and Engineering Ambassadors, where he was able to give tours and create hands-on demonstrations for prospective students.

Some things about NDSU that have stood out to Kroll are the size of the campus, the amount of resources there are for students and the available opportunities in the community.  

“I went to the career fair every single semester, just to connect with employers and to be aware of what opportunities are out there,” he said. “In the Fargo-Moorhead community, there’s a lot of entrepreneurial activity in the area, so getting involved and seeing what’s happening is really exciting.”

Following graduation, Kroll will be a trading analyst and software engineer at Ag Hedge Desk, a commodity trading and consulting company in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Kroll has a few pieces of advice he’d like to pass on to prospective students.   

“In my personal life, one piece of advice I really like is ‘don’t worry about how loud the applause is, pay more attention to who is clapping,’ especially when it comes to making decisions that might not be what everyone else is doing,” he said. “Some more broad career advice is to follow the things that excite you. The first internship I took I got paid less than if I had worked at a gas station, but I got so much hands-on experience there that prepared me for an internship at NASA and a future career.”

Kroll is from Royalton, Minnesota. He is the son of Duane and Linda Kroll. 

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