ABERDEEN, S.D. – Since moving to the United States at age 14, Northern
State University junior Menno Schukking has continued to seize opportunities – mastering the English language, becoming active in his community and excelling at school.
“Overcoming challenges has been a big factor in my life, as I had to continually learn and adapt to my environment,” said Schukking, a student of the NSU Honors Program.
Now Schukking has won the prestigious Marlin R. Scarborough Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded annually by the South Dakota Board of Regents. Each public university in South Dakota nominates one student for this $1,500 scholarship, and the Regents choose one winner. Schukking, a history major with minors in geography and economics, said he was surprised and honored to receive the scholarship.
Schukking, the son of Graham and Truus Schukking, graduated from Lake Preston High School in 2011. His family moved to the U.S. from the Netherlands in 2007. Schukking said his English was very basic when he first arrived. Attending a small, rural school helped him as he learned the language and got used to life in the U.S. Volunteering every summer at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant in De Smet also helped. There, he assisted with the wagon rides before the show, while listening to tourists’ stories.
“The tourists told me about their lives, travels and dreams, and made me realize the uniqueness every human being has,” he said.
Attending Northern continued the personal atmosphere he enjoyed at his high school and at the Ingalls Homestead, he said. At NSU, he has seized several opportunities, including being involved in the Honors Program and the Student Association; serving as Lindberg Hall Council president his freshman year; organizing community service projects in his residence hall; being involved in Wolf Pack Orientation; and participating in an alternative spring break trip.
Schukking also teaches supplemental instruction for NSU geography classes and works in the NSU International Student Office, where he guides students from all over the world as they get their first American experiences.
Schukking, who is set to graduate from NSU in spring 2015, is committed to seizing another opportunity at Northern: graduating In Honoribus. He said the more rigorous coursework he has had in the honors program inspired him to attend the Hanyang University International Summer School in Seoul, South Korea, in July 2012. The hands-on international experiences helped him better understand concepts he had learned in previous geography classes. Plus, his own past experience moving to another country made it easy for him to adapt and make new friends, he said.
“The class I took in Korea and the people I met were energizing and inspiring, making it the best experience of my life.”