International student finds success in athletics, academics
3 mins read

International student finds success in athletics, academics

Before her first year at USD, Laerke Jensen had never been to the United States. Originally from Denmark, Jensen was unfamiliar with USD and South Dakota.

Now as a junior accounting major, Jensen is an active member of the USD women’s golf team and the Beacom School of Business. Jensen said it was a major adjustment coming to USD, but she has enjoyed it.

“Transitioning to a new culture is not easy,” Jensen said. “I have had my teammates and coach around me almost every day since my freshman year and every single one of them have helped make my transition to living abroad easier and make me feel comfortable being away from my home country.”

Jensen discovered USD through the former head golf coach, who reached out to her during her senior year of high school. At first, she said she was unsure whether South Dakota was the best place for her to go to college, but it ended up being a perfect fit.

Jensen said the smaller class sizes have allowed her to form close relationships with students and professors, as well as have a high quality business education.

“I chose USD because of the small college feel and because of the people I was in contact with during my recruiting period,” Jensen said. “The staff and faculty at USD are all very open-minded towards people they don’t know and I appreciate how diverse the student body is here at USD.”

Brett Bennett, USD Women’s head golf coach, has been working with Jensen since her freshman year. Bennett said it has been a joy being a part of her academic and athletic careers at USD.

“Her love and passion for the game is what sets Laerke apart from other collegiate players,” Bennett said. “Couple that with her work ethic, and it is not surprising why she has success both in the classroom and on the golf course.”

Aside from her education at USD, Jensen said the thing she has enjoyed the most about coming to South Dakota is meeting new people.

“There is always someone around and most people are always ready to do whatever they can to help other people,” Jensen said. “I think the most special thing about Vermillion and USD is the supporting community and how friendly and welcoming the atmosphere at USD is.”

Denmark and South Dakota are similar in a lot of ways, Jensen said, but there are also a lot of differences between the two cultures.

“Danish culture is really about roots, honesty and trusting each other  and most people tend to have their focus on forming long-term relationships with friends and business partners,” Jensen said. “I believe this is a big contrast to the culture in South Dakota and the United States as a whole. From my point of view, Americans are always on the move and most Americans are very good at forming short-term relationships.”

As a junior, Jensen is already thinking about her future after she graduates from USD. She is planning on becoming a certified public accountant and continuing to explore new places and cultures.

Bennett said Jensen’s future is bright, no matter what she ends up doing.

“The ceiling for her is as high as she wants to take it with the game,” Bennett said. “The next couple of years we are going to see something special with her game and the leadership she provides. What she has provided for the program will change the course in which it heads for the years to come.”