DSU’s diverse alumni pave way for personal success

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Shi-Quan Nettingham, Mike Nelson and Keshara Bjorkman are just a few successful people whose stories began at Dixie State University. Not only did these former students take advantage of what DSU has to offer and are continuing to be successful outside of school, but they all beat the odds, powered against diverse students like them, to do so. 

DSU alumnus Shi-Quan Nettingham was an engaged student in athletics and Radio Dixie.

“The instructors…I felt they did a great job in preparing me with knowledge and skills in the communication department as a whole,” Nettingham said. “I feel like the instructors I had were great and helpful and wanted to help the students.”

Nettingham now works for a radio station in Las Vegas, 98.5 KLUC, and is pursuing a master’s degree in journalism at University of Nevada Las Vegas.

“It’s fun; I can’t complain because it’s a job that I enjoy, and I know everybody doesn’t have that,” Nettingham said. “Just find what you’re passionate about and stick with it. It’ll be worth it in the end.”

Another DSU alumnus who now has a career he is passionate about is Mike Nelson, assistant director of the Multicultural and Inclusion Center and Native American student adviser. After originally leaving school in 2001 and being affected by the economic recession in 2008, Nelson decided to pursue his education as a non-traditional returning student. During his time at DSU, Nelson became very involved with his department of study, with student government and with the MIC.

During his senior year, Nelson received many awards including Communication Student of the Year, Dixie 11 and Male Student of the Year, which was a first for a Native American student. The Utah Higher Education Staff Association even created a video highlighting Nelson’s successes at DSU. 

A week after graduating from DSU, Nelson was hired by the MIC. 

“Since then, I spent two years out of school gaining more work experience and going from a part-time employee to a full-time [position] here at the MIC,” Nelson said. “But I was able to start my master’s program in public administration, and I’m currently doing that online.”

Nelson works to educate Native American students about the resources on campus to prepare them for success. Because diverse students have low retention rates, Nelson advises students to get involved with a club that students can identify with, like clubs at the MIC and with their departments of study to increase a sense of belonging on campus.

Nelson is not the only award-winning, diverse former DSU student who’s seeing success. Alumna Keshara Bjorkman was highly involved on campus by finding ways to use her creativity and give back to the community, which she continues to do so. 

During her DSU journey, Bjorkman was highly involved wherever she could be: rugby, the ROTC program, DSUSA and the Dixie Sun News. By the end of her time at DSU, she was an officer in the national guard. She then won Female Student of the Year her senior year.

Bjorkman attributes much of her success to her drive to being involved. 

“Go out and be a part of something different than just Dixie — and that goes for everybody,” Bjorkman said.

The year after she graduated, Bjorkman worked at the MIC doing marketing and public relations work. She now teaches photo and video classes at Red Rock Canyon School, a residential treatment center, while concentrating on bettering her photo and video skills. 

Bjorkman has various plans in the future for creative projects and wishes to pursue her passion of creating artistic work and move forward with her creative skills. She recently participated in a diversity dialogue at DSU about LGBTQ+ students of color and the challenges they may face.

Bjorkman is also a small business owner. She owns two companies: Be Vicious, an apparel line, and Skärbräda, a cutting board company. 

Although diverse students face unique challenges, they are capable of success if they get involved as much as they can and take advantage of the various tools and resources that DSU has to offer. Nettingham, Nelson and Bjorkman all immersed themselves in campus experiences, which they all agreed played a critical role in helping them be where they are today.