Dec. 17, 2019

NDSU Winter Commencement – Toni DeBerg's campus inspiration


Student: Toni DeBerg, Respiratory therapy

Inspiration: Cassie Keogh, assistant professor of music

Toni DeBerg has been her own harshest critic. The respiratory therapy major was a perfectionist who focused on her mistakes and held on far too long to failures.

Then she met Cassie Keogh, NDSU assistant professor of music. Keogh, who teaches clarinet at the Challey School of Music, taught DeBerg the value of self-reflection. She helped DeBerg slow down, and believe in herself and her talent.  

It was inspirational and transformative. Keogh’s guidance helped DeBerg succeed on the clarinet and in her respiratory therapy coursework.  

“Cassie taught me to give myself time to think and to allow myself to think about things,” said DeBerg, who is from Fargo. “I didn’t start college until I was almost 40. There are a lot of reasons for that, one being that I wasn’t sure I would be successful at it. There was a lot of self-doubt. But Cassie helped me to stop doubting. It’s very important if you are fortunate enough to find a person on campus who can have your back, help you with encouragement and give you wisdom.

“I thought I already had all the people in my corner that I needed. But it helps even more to have someone who also is on campus who has a shared experience and knows what you are dealing with in classes. I wasn’t looking for someone to inspire me. But it was so much more valuable to find it than I thought it might be. She was so pleasantly surprising in that way.” 

 Future plans: DeBerg has accepted a position as a respiratory therapist at Sanford Health in Fargo.

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