DWU's Gronseth on track to enter ag business world following graduation

·6 min read

May 5—MITCHELL — As a high schooler growing up near Sargent, Minnesota, Lila Gronseth had a vision to attend college for agriculture business. But she faced a question high school seniors everywhere face when it comes to making a college decision.

Where would she attend?

She never heard of Dakota Wesleyan University. And then, a recruiter for the school's track and field team reached out.

"I said, 'Well, I wanted something focused on agriculture and I don't think your college has that,'" Gronseth told the Mitchell Republic in a recent interview. "And he was new at the time, but he said DWU had a program with Mitchell Technical College, but he needed to get more information on it."

The recruiter called her back on that program partnership, and the next thing she knew, she was headed down Interstate 90 to make a visit to the Mitchell community.

And she liked what she saw.

"I grew up in a small town, so I love the small-town feel. I love that I can talk to teachers and they'll remember me the next day. That's pretty much what drew me (to Dakota Wesleyan). Plus the faith-based aspect of it," Gronseth said.

Gronseth has gone on to spend the last three years running track for Dakota Wesleyan and obtaining her bachelors degree in business administration with a concentration on agriculture and finance. She now has her sights set on returning to her home neighborhood to take the first steps in her new career.

She's also begun work on her masters degree.

Her somewhat unlikely arrival at Dakota Wesleyan was spurred in part by the cooperative effort between Dakota Wesleyan and Mitchell Tech, where students have a chance to take advantage of programs at both schools. Gronseth set herself on an accelerated path with the goal of getting her bachelors degree in three years, but for traditional four-year students the process is fairly straightforward.

"Traditionally, you start going to Mitchell Tech in your second semester as a freshman, and you take a class each semester until you graduate. The rest of your coursework is done (at Dakota Wesleyan)," Gronseth.

It's an arrangement that has served Gronseth, who grew up on a turkey farm raising birds with her family, well during her time in Mitchell. The bulk of her classwork and social life and all of her athletics participation is done at Dakota Wesleyan, but the chance to work with instructors at Mitchell Tech gave her added depth to her studies, she said.

"One of the (Mitchell Tech) professors invited me over to a career fair, and that was very nice. I got to do some networking and be part of the student population there, but most of my social life would be on (the DWU) campus," Gronseth said.

Her academic adviser at Dakota Wesleyan, Christine Mauszycki, said Gronseth was a great example of how students can benefit from the working relationship.

"The partnership between DWU and Mitchell Tech is widely popular with our students. Students studying agriculture or construction at Mitchell Tech remain full-time students at DWU while taking one or two classes each semester at Mitchell Tech," Mauszycki said. "This allows the students to remain athletically eligible at DWU. Students no longer have to decide between going to Mitchell Tech or DWU, now they can study at both schools."

Gronseth distinguished herself at both schools with her dedication and vision, she said.

"Lila is a self-motivated student who has always been certain of her career path. She brought in a good amount of dual credit courses and was excited to earn her bachelors in business administration with finance at DWU while studying agriculture at Mitchell Tech," Mauszycki said.

In addition to being a presence on both campuses, Gronseth has also worked hands-on with summer internships. She has worked with a crop consultant in Rose Creek, Minnesota, among others, and is also expecting to go to work with Farm Bureau Financial Services, where she will deal in the world of farm insurance.

Helping farmers with insurance needs is something she would like to pursue further, but there are many opportunities to working with Farm Bureau.

"Ag underwriting has been an interest of mine. I'd be going out to farms and evaluating their farms and their worth. Then you can communicate with farmers and agents as well," Gronseth said.

Gronseth still has some work to do on campus this year. She has been a standout shot put, discus, hammer and weight thrower for the Tigers. She is a four-time national qualifier, both indoor and outdoor, in the shot put, and she just qualified nationally for shot put and discus. She's also close to hitting the standard for hammer throw, and she has a couple more chances to qualify for that, as well.

She's loved her time on the track and field team, and made some great friends along the way, as well.

"I didn't know for sure if (track and field) was something I wanted to continue after college or if I just wanted to put my athletic career to rest. But I'm so glad I didn't. I just love the environment of the team, and some of the throwers and other teammates have become very close friends of mine. I'm going to be the maid of honor for one of my teammates," Gronseth said.

She has an affinity for rodeo competition, as well, and she plans to revisit that interest from her younger days when she returns to Minnesota to live and work. And she'll continue working on her masters online through Dakota Wesleyan to advance her academic achievements even further.

She has accomplished a lot in just three years in Mitchell. For someone who had never even heard of Dakota Wesleyan University before that fateful recruiting call, Gronseth said it's difficult to sum up her experience as a Tiger.

But it couldn't have worked out much better than it has, and she's sure other students could find the same fulfillment at the school she did if they would give it a look.

"There's just so much. The professors and people who have invested in my life have been a huge blessing. Even those outside Dakota Wesleyan that want to know me and want to make sure I succeed — that blows my mind," Gronseth said. "I never would have expected to get this out of being somewhere for three years. I don't know what I expected from college, but it wasn't this. I've just been very happy with my experience, whether it be in the classroom, on the track, in the dorms. It's nothing fancy, but it's nothing I would trade."

The 2023 Dakota Wesleyan University commencement ceremony will take place at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 7 at the Corn Palace. This year's graduation includes four international graduates as well as 57 graduates from states other than South Dakota. South Dakota will be represented by 131 graduates from 60 communities in the state. Of those communities, Mitchell is the most-represented with 23.

The ceremony will also be streamed live at