Driving Change in Higher Education.

Platform profile: Jeremiah Grafsgaard

By Brayden Mann
MSCSA Public Relations Coordinator

Jeremiah Grafsgaard is the president of Minnesota State Community and Technical College-Moorhead’s Student Senate. He has been a key member of the MSCSA Platform Committee this year, submitting several thoughtful amendments during the Student Leadership Conference-September 2013 as well as being an incredibly vocal member of the Platform Committee during the discussion of the platform document at the Fall 2013 General Assembly. The Student Leadership Conference-December 2013 was Jeremiah’s final conference before graduating.

Brayden Mann: What made you want to join student government?

Jeremiah Grafsgaard: I was actually kind of coaxed into it by my advisor. In 2008, I went to Minnesota State University Moorhead and I felt it wasn’t a service industry; I felt like I wasn’t being listened to, and I really wasn’t putting in what I needed to succeed. So, I took a break and experienced some life…joined the military, got some life experience, some leadership experience and came back. So I went and attended Minnesota State Community and Technical College-Moorhead and was there strictly there for academic purposes. I was focused on my education and being successful—and I did do well. So it took some coaxing by our advisor and my program advisor to get into extracurricular activities and when I did, I realized there was a voice for me to represent students, and it is much more of a service industry than I realized. I just didn’t recognize the channels of how it was a service industry. I was actively participating in my education and making it all that it can be.

BM: You have been kind of the main voice coming out of Minnesota State Community and Technical College-Moorhead this year. After your departure, what are your hopes for the student senate?

JG: Well, they’re in good hands. Our new president coming in is Constance Pearson, she is a phenomenal person and she’s got a lot of life experience. She’s managed and owned restaurants, she’s been out in the work force, and she knows how to lead people–to manage teams. So, most of what I want to leave behind is ratifying our bylaws and making a recorded system to put in place things to improve the Student Government Association at Minnesota State Community and Technical College-Moorhead.

BM: What are you going to miss the most about MSCSA?

JG: You, Brayden Mann!

BM: [Laughs]

JG: The sense of community. The personal ownership, I think. When I first attended MSCSA was a Fall General Assembly–it would have been in 2012. Since then, I’ve attended two more General Assemblies and the Student Leadership Conferences this whole semester since being elected. I think attending all the regular events helps a lot versus attending one event per year or just two General Assemblies per year–it seems like there is a big disconnect there whereas attending regularly really makes it like a close knit family. I think having that familiar attitude allows us to take pride, ownership, and responsibility in it and do more work and know what work to do. When I was elected to the Platform Committee, I had something I could personally contribute. I knew the platform document was my mission for the semester. So, I dove into it and read through it personally. I found things that were on my campus that were issues, I found people who had issues and discovered there were things in our Platform document that we needed and we needed to work on. I just took it on personally to do those things, and I really think that’s what gave me “poster child” status in MSCSA, but it’s something anybody can do. It doesn’t make me special or different, it’s that I did it and I encourage other people to do it. Just take charge of it and take ownership, move forward and press on.

BM: What is your primary motivation to be involved with Student Government and MSCSA?

JG: I want to see things better and I want to see things done better. I want school to be the best it can for me and seeing it better for other people, too. We live in a community…our education system should be the best it can be.

BM: Thank you for sitting with me today, Jer!

JG: Absolutely, anytime!

BM: I usually try to have at least one lighter question per interview, and I’ve just been dying to ask, what was the decision with the awesome hair?

JG: It wasn’t even my decision. I got out of the military and I kept shaving my head out of habit for several months. It just kind of clicked that I don’t have to have a military haircut anymore. I wanted to do something wild and different. So, one day I went to one of my best friend’s salon in Fargo and said “Do whatever you want!” and that’s what she came up with. Then I went to a tattoo shop and got a lip piercing; changed my personal appearance from military to something with a little more edge.

BM: It’s definitely become staple for you!

JG: When I move to China I will probably be shaving it all off again just because I need to have a business presence.

BM: What motivated the decision to move to China!

JG: My brother asked me to sell off my stuff and move to China. In 2011 he opened up a business selling custom-made suits and ties. He was running the business on his own, traveling back and forth from China and selling in America… he decided to hire me as the Director of Operations for all of Asia, so I’ll be traveling throughout Asia. I just basically agreed to join my brother’s business. He’s extremely successful–also a college student in Minneapolis–and I believe he’ll be a millionaire by the time he’s 30, so I want to cash in on that!

BM: That’s not a bad way to do it! [Laughs] Well, Jer, I want to thank you for sitting down with me. I hope you become very successful and I can speak for the association in saying that we’re going to miss you, but we’re also very happy for you.

JG: I appreciate it! I’ll be back around sometime!


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