When Frankie (Lux) Nelson ’15 started at South Dakota State University, she was unsure of her major.
“I knew SDSU had a great nursing program and if not, I had other great health care options,” she said. “I also knew SDSU had the most programs in the state so once I did figure out what I wanted do, I’d find it at SDSU.”
Since she was undeclared, Nelson took a number of classes regarding career exploration and interest inventories. Throughout her time in exploratory studies, teaching kept popping up.
“Teaching initially wasn’t on my radar. I wasn’t into math or English and knew if I was going to teach, I wanted to be at a small school,” said Nelson. “Julie Bell, an academic advisor, used to be the state FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) adviser when I was in high school. She suggested I major in family and consumer sciences education. I didn’t know it was a major. While I loved FCCLA in high school, I never thought of it as a career opportunity.”
It has become that and much more for Nelson, who now teaches at Bridgewater-Emery. She was recently named the New Professional of the Year by the National Association of Teachers of Family and Consumer Sciences.
“I’d say shock and excitement were my two initial feelings when I found out. I was in another meeting and didn’t expect to win a national award,” Nelson said. “I feel there are so many qualified new teachers in our state so I can barely imagine how many there are in the nation.
“One great thing about the honor is it’s getting people interested in talking about family and consumer sciences education,” she said. “When I graduated, I felt very prepared to start my teaching career and like to get the word out about the program whenever I can.”
And it has been that way since her sophomore year at SDSU.
“I loved my classes,” Nelson said. “A lot of it was having the right people in my life at the right time. One of those was Deb Debates. She was phenomenal in the classroom. She was very passionate, and I feel that rubbed off on me.”
When Debates learned Nelson won the national award, she was not surprised.
“Frankie was a phenomenal student and has been very innovative in her approach to teaching. She’s always looking for new ideas to incorporate in her classes,” said Debates. “I see her at the state meetings. I’m just so proud how she represents our program and state so well.”