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Majors & Degrees

A legacy of leadership

January 5, 2024

DSU alumna Dr. Summer Schultz (B.S. ‘98, M.S. ‘03) was inspired to become an educator by many individuals. Most notable among these was her father, a high school principal and athletic director at Colman-Egan.

She got to see him at work daily and remembers he always said, “A day at school is better than anyone else’s day at work,” she said. “The number of graduates who share stories of his ability to provide support and grace while holding students accountable is immeasurable.”

To follow in his footsteps, she majored in education at Dakota State, and has made it her career. She is now superintendent of the Brookings (S.D.) School District, a position she took in 2023.

While attending DSU as an undergraduate to earn her Elementary Education and Special Education degrees, Schultz participated in activities, playing basketball, running track, and even joined the cross-country team in her final fall at DSU.

She appreciated the exceptional coaches and professors who uniquely impacted her development.

“The engaging coursework I encountered, even at the undergraduate level, fueled my passion for education,” Schultz said. “Notably, technology was gaining prominence in K-12 schools during that period, and in many places, it was relatively rare at higher levels. Being a DSU graduate provided a distinct advantage when applying for a position because educational technology was embedded into all education programs.”

A few years after completing her undergraduate degree, Schultz was inspired to earn her Master’s in Educational Technology to advance her career and improve her technological skills.

“Technology impacts many aspects of my career and has initiated changes in both the role of the superintendent and the teaching profession,” she said. “Although there are too many benefits to list, technology can offer increased efficiency, improved learning experiences, and unlimited opportunities for collaboration and communication.”

As a school administrator, she must protect technology infrastructures, student privacy, and academic integrity. “My technology degree has proved to be an essential component to the overall understanding I have within my school districts,” Schultz said.

She went on to earn a master’s in administration and later a doctorate on her path to educational leadership. “I felt moved to work in an environment that allowed me to impact school systems on a higher level,” she said. “School districts are often the heart of communities, and when we get it right, communities are stronger because of the relationship and shared responsibility taken to educate our children.”

Though she’s only a few months into her new role as superintendent, she’s seen this in Brookings. “I am impressed by the community’s commitment to the school district and the opportunities to work together for the betterment of our students.”

Schultz’s son, Brayden Pankonen, is now following in her footsteps by attending DSU, and is a freshman playing on the men’s basketball team.

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