NDSU is family tradition for commencement speaker
Published May 2016
NDSU was the natural choice for spring commencement speaker Mackayla Headlee. She describes attending the university as a family tradition.
“NDSU is the only school I toured and the only one I applied to. It really was the only logical choice, and I couldn’t have imagined it any other way,” said Headlee, who has been selected to speak during the 10 a.m. commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 14, in the Fargodome.
Headlee will receive her Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering, which makes her a third-generation electrical engineer to graduate from NDSU. She’ll join grandfather Wayne Headlee who earned his degree in 1969; father Todd, who graduated in 1990; and sister Taylor Ronnei, who earned her bachelor’s degree two years ago. Her mother, Angela, graduated from NDSU in 1989, with degrees in business administration and economics.
“Continuing our family legacy really means a lot to me,” Headlee said. “And I saw the success my grandpa and dad had in their careers, so I knew I’d be in the same position if I went to NDSU.”
Her commencement talk will touch on that topic, suggesting today’s students are connected to the past as well as a promising future.
“The traditions at NDSU tie us to all the alumni who came before us. NDSU really is like one big family,” Headlee said, noting she and other graduates feel ready to join the workforce. “All our activities, both in and out of the classroom, have prepared us to be good members of the community, self-sufficient adults and productive members of society. Our chances of living successful lives are greater because of our experiences at NDSU.”
During her collegiate career, Headlee was highly involved with many organizations on campus. She was active in NDSU club tennis, NDSU Engineering Ambassadors and Student Government, where she was Executive Commissioner of Academic and Student Affairs. Headlee also was president of Society of Women Engineers and vice president of the Blue Key Honor Society.
“I honed my technical skills in the classroom, and my involvement strengthened my soft skills. It perfectly complemented what I learned in the classroom and made me a well-rounded individual,” said Headlee, who grew up in Nisswa, Minnesota. “My organizations are across the board, so I’ve had a lot of different experiences. I was able to develop my presentation, communication and leadership skills.”
Following graduation, Headlee will join the engineering team at Burns and McDonnell in Kansas City.