It does not happen often, but flowers do arrive at the South Dakota State University’s aviation program. When they do arrive, everyone knows they’re going to Deb Vigdal, who is its program assistant.
“In my 16 years with SDSU aviation, she is the ONLY person I know who gets flowers from the students on a semiregular basis just because they appreciate her extra effort, professionalism and also her kindness,” said Cody Christensen, who leads the program.
For her efforts helping with the program in the College of Education and Human Sciences, Vigdal has been named South Dakota State University’s Civil Service Employee of the Month for February. Her reception will start at 2 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Brookings Regional Airport.
Nominators cite to Vigdal’s care for students and attention to detail.
“Deb is an integral part of our program and routinely goes above and beyond to keep the program in good graces with the university, vendors, students and other team members,” Christensen said.
“Deb demonstrates care for the students in such ways as digging into a financial question well beyond her job duties to make sure the student can fly on their next flight or calling, texting and tracking down students when flights open and she sees an opportunity,” he continued. “She is there to console students after a failed checkride, and she is usually the first person students want to tell that they passed a checkride.”
“Her professionalism, attention to detail and friendly personality has really changed the culture of the airport for the better. In the past, students would use the airport to do their flights and leave as soon as they could. Now, they come and study, hang out and use the airport as a home base,” Christensen said. “She really takes the time to get to know the students and is not afraid to roll up her sleeves and get to the heart of the issue, whether that be a financial question, a student issue or vendor question.”
Her attention and dedication are not just directed toward the students.
“Deb is an integral part of our team at the airport. Without Deb’s dedication to the program, we would not be as successful as we currently are,” said Sam Bjornestad, aviation manager. “She consistently goes well beyond expectations to ensure that students, faculty and staff are put in positions to succeed.”
“Deb’s daily tasks can be, at times, overwhelming yet she finds time to assist me and other staff members with the problems that crop up on a regular basis,” said Dan Moerke, a chief flight instructor. “Her willingness to listen to problems and help problem solve usually goes above and beyond what would normally be expected in the course of a normal day.”
Vigdal, who started at South Dakota State in 2012 and moved to the aviation program in 2016, is grateful to be working with the aviation program.
“I’m blessed to work with staff and students who love what they do and inspire so many, including myself,” said Vigdal, adding she and her husband, Ken, moved to South Dakota in 2012. “The aviation family is full of ambitious people who continue to deliver excellent results.”
All SDSU Employee of the Month selections are determined through a nomination process by the Civil Service Advisory Council. Each civil service employee of the month receives an appreciation monetary gift from the F.O. Butler Foundation. The trustees of the foundation recognize the importance of civil service employees and take this opportunity to thank them for their exemplary service.