Mr. Dakota continues family tradition
5 mins read

Mr. Dakota continues family tradition

Conrad’s grandmother, Patricia Mickelson, was crowned Miss Dakota in 1957. Archive photo | The Volante

For senior finance major Conrad Adam, USD feels like home.

“USD has really been a family tradition,” he said. “I am now a fourth generation Yote, which is pretty neat.”

Conrad Adam was crowned Mr. Dakota at USD’s Dakota Day’s football game on Oct. 7.

Karl Adam and Paul Hochhalter right after being crowned Mr. and Miss Dakota in Slagle Hall in 1986. Archive photo | The Volante

Royalty runs in Conrad Adam’s family. His father, Karl Adam, was crowned the first Mr. Dakota in 1986. His aunt was crowned Miss Dakota in 1990, and his grandmother was crowned in 1957.

A family tradition

Many of Conrad Adam’s family members attended USD.

“My great-grandfather George T. Mickelson attended the university probably over 70 years ago,” Conrad Adam said. “Ever since, my grandparents have attended USD and my mother and father have attended USD, so it’s been a really special place for our family.”

Conrad Adam is one of six children. His older sister Katherine Adam graduated from USD in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in media and journalism, and his younger brother, Jack Adam, is a first-year studying business. He has two younger twin brothers, Phillip and Paul Adam, still in high school who the family hopes will also attend USD.

Karl Adam said he and his wife are proud their children have continued the family’s tradition.

“The University of South Dakota is near and dear to my wife and I, who are both graduates and alums,” Karl Adam said. “(Knowing) that they chose the university and that they’ve had the experience we hope any young student would have… I think that having been selected and nominated by their peers is a great indicator of their involvement.”

Conrad Adam said he was amazed he was chosen to be this year’s Mr. Dakota.

“I would still say I’m pretty speechless,” he said. “It was a pretty incredible feeling, and you know, my grandmother was Miss Dakota 60 years ago this year and my father was Mr. Dakota 30 years ago. So to be named Mr. Dakota meant a lot to me. It was a pretty special moment.”

Exemplifying Mr. Dakota

Conrad Adam not only has long family ties to USD, but he’s also been very involved on campus. He’s been a member of Coyote Capital Management, DakotaThon executive team, Delta Tau Delta, a student member of the South Dakota Board of Regents and one of the dean’s ambassadors for the business school.

Jackson Shriver, another member of the DakotaThon executive team and one of the final seven nominees for Mr. Dakota, said he couldn’t think of anyone more deserving of the title.

“Conrad was the most deserving option of the people nominated because he completely exemplifies what Mr. Dakota stands for,” Shriver said. “Doing everything to the best that he could… (he always has a) bright mood on campus, always a smile on his face. He shows what USD is looking for in their students.” 

Kaitlyn Severyn, a senior health service administration major, has been dating Conrad Adam since their sophomore year of high school. She said getting an up-close look at how hard he works every day made her even more excited for him.

“He is involved in so many different organizations, his mornings start out very early,” Severyn said. “He spends a lot of time at the library. (He’s) always applying or giving his best effort. He does it for the university and for others.” 

Conrad Adam said one of his favorite things about USD is the people.

“The professors, my classmates and everybody in between… the community and everybody here in Vermillion,” he said. “It’s very welcoming, people are friendly and it’s really neat developing relationships here in Vermillion.”

Conrad Adam said he would leave two pieces of advice for first-year students hoping to make their mark at USD.

“The first thing would be to get out and meet people. There are so many great opportunities here on campus, and meeting people is an easy way to get involved,” he said. “The second thing is I would say stay focused on your studies. Sometimes it’s easy to get distracted by the many things that are going on on campus, but you’re really here to go to school. Focusing on your studies can really lead you to success for the future.”

Conrad Adam said he hopes to give back to the USD community in the future.

“I am very blessed with what USD had given me, and I hope to not only give back in the future but continue the relationships I have built and really give back to the Yotes for years to come,” he said. “It’s been really special here. It means a lot to be able to attend USD, and I couldn’t have asked for a better three and a half years so far.”