Dickinson State University showcased its alumni last weekend from across the generations as the university continues its year-long centennial celebration, an event which has brought the city, community and student body together.
"As a student I enjoyed the smaller classes and I could see that the teachers really cared about us," Kayleen Nodland, who attended DSU from 1963 to 1967, said during a formal luncheon, one of several alumni events scheduled for this past weekend. "It was so nice meeting students from literally all over the world, I really enjoyed that. It's amazing how many of them, too, that I went to college with stayed and got jobs."
Kayleen was in attendance with her husband George, the two both having attended DSU-though George began the same year as Kaylee did, he wouldn't graduate until 1972, taking some years to serve in the Army before returning to finish his education.
"I remember the first time I went just to go. Then I got drafted and the second time I went back I got real studious," he said.
For George, his status as a veteran and a student placed him in a unique social circle that soon came to outnumber even the collegiate fraternities.
"We had a veteran's club with us ex-military, older than average students who were sometimes looked up to sometimes looked down to because we were much older than the other kids," he recalled. "It probably ended up with 50, 60 members-maybe 100 members. Compared to the fraternities we were much larger and much smarter."
The Nodlands not only graduated from DSU, but they remained in Dickinson as well, forming deep ties to the community.
Marie Moe, communications director for DSU, was impressed by the communal and filial ties that have grown around the university and its graduates.
"One thing that really impressed me when I came to Dickinson seven years ago is how many families have chosen Dickinson State multi-generationally. I was talking with a gal, she's here with her aunt and her great-aunt ... there are multi-family stories," Moe said. "It's not just a part of their education, it's a part of their family culture. Once you're part of this Blue Hawk family, you're a Blue Hawk forever."
Moe said that the events were overwhelmingly positive.
"I've had a chance to sit and visit with some of the people ... we had a group of alumni talk about being homecoming queen ... it's great to relive those memories, to see the impact that the university and community had on their lives," She said. "To see the joy is really, that's a really great part for me, to see everybody so joyful."
It wasn't just the impact on those who attended the university, but the community response as well that Moe found striking.
"One of the things that I think is really unique about this celebration is how the city has come out alongside to celebrate with us," she said. "The downtown and around town, the business are putting up Blue Hawk decorations ... there are discounts for shopping all weekend long."
The local winery, Fluffy Fields, was even releasing a commemorative wine to honor the centennial, Moe said.