Commencement Speaker’s Message: Capitalize On The College Experience



As a campus tour guide, North Dakota State University senior Kylie Artz is well prepared to answer the questions posed by most visitors. Why did you choose NDSU? Why do you love it here? What makes it a great place?

So she had to think for a moment when at the end of a tour, a small hand shot up. “How many rocks are there on campus?” the inquiring fourth-grader wanted to know.

Artz, a Bottineau, N.D., native, was stumped. Even as she approaches graduation, learning opportunities continue to come from unexpected places.

It’s a situation she ultimately embraces. Artz realized early on that academics, combined with campus involvement and volunteer activities, created the total college experience. She believes taking advantage of those opportunities helps students set themselves apart and prepare for life after graduation.

Artz will share what she’s learned at NDSU as the speaker representing her class during spring commencement. More than 2,200 students are scheduled to receive degrees on Saturday, May 11.

She still doesn’t know how many rocks are on campus, but Artz continues to apply the lessons she’s learned. “Stay flexible, keep calm and use your past experiences to help determine your next step,” she said. “Along with your character, I believe that two of the most important factors that will determine your success in life are your ability to work with people and your attitude.” 

Becoming a leader
Artz began making an impact upon arrival at NDSU. Her passion and enthusiasm became contagious to her audience during campus tours, according to Jobey Lichtblau, director of admission. As a tour guide, challenging questions demanded thoughtful replies. Evolving construction zones required on-the-fly changes of direction. And more than once winter weather provided a formidable hurdle to showcasing the best NDSU has to offer. 

However, Artz said sharing her experiences and engaging visitors helped create a positive first impression that deepened while showing off campus. She reveled in providing visitors an hour-long student perspective of NDSU – all of which while walking backward, conversing with prospective students and their parents. “There isn’t a training course,” Artz quipped about her job-acquired skill.

She became the “go-to” tour guide by her sophomore year, giving as many as four campus tours per week and becoming the first one tabbed to lead special tour requests. “She is an outstanding ambassador for NDSU,” Lichtblau said. 

Campus involvement fuels passion
Artz took advantage of leadership and volunteer activities on campus. She served as president of Blue Key Honor Society and as an NDSU Ag Ambassador representing the College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources. Through her work with the national service organization Students Today Leaders Forever, Artz volunteered in 10 states on two pay-it-forward tours.

She also has an impressive list of volunteer activities: Dorothy Day House Food Pantry, the Salvation Army, the NDSU Library, Girl Scouts of the USA, the Red River Children’s Advocacy Center, Nokomis Childcare, the NDSU Career Center, the Sophomore Mentorship Program at NDSU, Fill the Dome, the Great Plains Food Bank and Hoops for Hannah. She also was involved with the North Dakota Leadership Seminar, a program that encourages high school sophomores to gain leadership skills through service opportunities.

“Take those things you’ve learned in college outside of the classroom and learn how to apply those lessons to everyday life,” she said. “You’re graduating with tens of thousands of people with your degree and a good GPA. What will you bring to the table to set yourself apart?”

Academically, Artz is a Presidential Scholar and regularly appears on the dean’s list. “Kylie is an exceptional young person who has successfully demonstrated what it is to be a well-rounded student who can balance the rigors of class with campus activities and community involvement,” said Patti Sebesta, Ag Ambassador adviser and director of college advancement for the College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources.

After graduation, Artz will continue her education at NDSU in the Master of Public Health program. The management of infectious diseases specialization will allow her to combine her bachelor’s degree in microbiology with her ability to work with people. She said she hopes to become an epidemiologist, studying diseases and tracing the course of outbreaks.

Artz admits she doesn’t know all the answers, but her response to the inquisitive fourth-grader sums up her approach to making the most of the college experience. “It all depends on how deep you want to dig.”

NDSU commencement ceremonies are scheduled for Saturday, May 11. 

1 Response

  1. Jeanne Artz

    Congratulations, Kylie!!! I loved your answer about “how deep you want to dig”.
    I know you will give life your all and make a few corners of the world better.
    Love, Jeanne

Comments are closed.