Skip to main content
Close Search

Brookings native among first students to pursue new leadership, management of nonprofit organizations major

Kayla Gullickson poses for a photo.
Kayla Gullickson is the first student to pursue the leadership and management of nonprofit organizations major at SDState.

First-year student Kayla Gullickson is no stranger to being a leader.

In high school, she worked her way up the leadership ladder through her Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) chapter, to becoming a national officer. As a senior at Brookings High School, she spoke in front of 8,000 people at a national FCCLA event in Nashville.

“What makes me want to be leader is the change I see in people. The way leaders have affected me is how I want to affect others,” Gullickson said.

Her initial plans were to attend Augustana University to become a teacher after high school, but her mom, Heidi, put an idea in her head to force Gullickson to reconsider. Her mom had discovered that South Dakota State University was kick-starting a new major, leadership and management of nonprofit organizations, and felt it would be a good fit.

“I wasn’t sure that I wanted to become a teacher,” Gullickson said. “My mom works for a nonprofit. I enjoyed seeing how she helped the community—seeing all the changes she made from her hard work.”

Gullickson then decided to follow in her mom’s footsteps and enrolled at SDState. She is a third-generation Jackrabbit.

“The atmosphere of being a Jackrabbit is so fun,” she said.

When she declared her major, she was one of the first LMNO majors. She also is working toward management and marketing minors.

“I like how broad it is, I have classes with public relations, marketing, consumer behaviors … I am getting skills in several areas,” she said.

Gullickson enjoys learning about leadership theories and how she can transfer those to management, marketing and nonprofit fields. So far, she has enjoyed her two leadership classes, LEAD 210 and LEAD 310, the most.

She misses traveling, which she did nearly monthly for FCCLA, but hopes to travel more as part of her career. While Gullickson’s studies may have come naturally, her advice to those who are unsure about what to study is that they should do their research and see what classes interest them.

“I feel like SDSU has done a pretty good job of getting classes ready,” she said. “Look at the major on the SDState website, because looking at that drew me in even more because you can see the wide variety of classes.”