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3-year graduate makes connections with Foundation

Caitlin Thilges
Caitlin Thilges

Caitlin Thilges, of Algona, Iowa, is graduating in only three years with a degree in leadership and management of nonprofit organizations with a minor in management.

As a student at Bishop Garrigan High School, Thilges loaded up online college courses and dual credit courses. So she entered SDSU with 33 credits, more than a year’s worth.

Not surprisingly, she is a member of the Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College. Through her work at the SDSU Foundation, she has been able to meet the college’s namesakes as well as major SDSU philanthropist Dana J. Dykhouse.

She began working as a Phone Jack in her sophomore year after seeing a flyer in her residence hall. After spending the school year making phone calls to alumni requesting financial support for their alma mater, Thilges became a supervisor in what has been renamed the Philanthropy Center. She also now does some daytime administrative work.

Thilges was nominated in May 2020 to serve as a student ex-officio on the Foundation’s Council of Trustees. That selection “has been a huge honor and allowed me to form connections that are very valuable,” she said.

As the student voices on the council, Thilges and fellow ex-officio Zebediah Johnson were equipped with Go Pro cameras that were harnessed to their backpacks for a day to create a “day in the life of a student” video. The foundation edited the footage and produced a seven-minute presentation that was shown at this fall’s virtual council of trustees meeting.

In addition to classroom scenes, the footage could have shown Thilges practicing the shot put and hammer and weight throws as a member of the SDSU track and field team.

Thilges also is involved in the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Oasis and Catholic Newman Center as well as serving as an ambassador to the College of Education and Human Sciences.

With two years of eligibility remaining, next fall she will enter the University of Northern Iowa to continue her athletic career and pursue a master’s degree in community health and recreation.

Thilges is the daughter of Mike Thilges of Whittemore, Iowa, and Erin Thilges, of Algona.

She will speak at the 10 a.m. Sunday, May 9, ceremony for graduates of the colleges of Education and Human Sciences and Nursing.