Photo By Hillary Ehlen
In many ways, Alfred Schwalbe’s journey to North Dakota State University to further his education seemed to be written in the stars. He grew up in Beulah, North Dakota, with a family who owned a ranch, leading to an interest in agriculture at an early age for Schwalbe. Couple that with the various Career Technical Education (CTE) courses at Beulah High School and Schwalbe was hooked. NDSU and agriculture just made sense.
“My grandparents lived on their ranch and we had quite a few cows and horses. We had a CTE portion of my high school where you could take agriculture electives,” Schwalbe said. “That was something I excelled in, so going to NDSU for agricultural education made sense.”
Throughout his prep school years, Schwalbe was heavily involved in the agriculture community in Beulah and across North Dakota. He was an active member of the Future Farmer’s of America organization and was even elected North Dakota FFA President his senior year of high school. That led to a very busy freshman year at NDSU for Schwalbe.
“When I was in high school I was really involved in FFA. I was President of my chapter, ran for state office and ended up getting elected state President,” he said. “So my freshman year was being a full-time student while traveling all over the state doing crazy things.”
Despite the hustle and bustle of his freshman year at NDSU, Schwalbe wanted to be more involved on campus and in the FFA community. He decided to run for national FFA office. The organization includes over 650,000 members nationwide and only 40 students are selected to run for national office, six are chosen as the national officers. While he was not one of the final six, Schwalbe was chosen as one of the final 40 candidates.
It was during this time that Schwalbe began pondering what he wanted his future in agriculture to look like. At the time, he was an agriculture education major looking to influence the future generation of students interested in agriculture. However, he always had other agricultural dreams in mind. All of which stemmed from the time spent on his grandparent’s ranch.
“I always joked that I would like to deliver babies when I grew up. Because out on the ranch when it was calving season, it happened all the time,” he said. “I looked into how I can get to that point and it included medical school. My advisor told me to talk to the animal science department.”
That led Schwalbe to the renowned animal science department on North Dakota State’s campus. Ultimately, he switched his major from agriculture education to biomedical animal science with a focus on animal reproduction. Schwalbe is keeping his options open as far as his future education but would like to obtain a Master’s degree in animal science and possibly go to medical school after that.
Schwalbe has excelled in academics and has big plans for his future. Yet, he has succeeded while still being involved in almost everything on North Dakota State’s campus. He was and still is involved in student government, he is in the NDSU Blue Key Honor Society, one of the most prestigious and recognizable academic societies in the Midwest. Schwalbe is also a proud Ag Ambassador, helping new and incoming students in their journey through NDSU’s various agricultural departments. This includes giving tours, aiding them in class selection and more.
He is also a former Bison yell leader. Schwalbe saw his first Bison football game in high school (a game in which the Bison lost bested Richmond in the FCS Semifinal) and was immediately attracted to the students in front wearing yellow suits. He told himself he wanted to do that once he stepped onto campus. Up until this season, he has donned the yellow suit and has led North Dakota State’s student section at various athletic events.
Wanting to get involved on campus takes a special type of person. For Schwalbe, he knew getting heavily involved at North Dakota State would only help him and the campus community. “The foundation of being so involved came from when I was in Beulah. I was super involved there and I saw what a small amount will have and the impact it will have on our community. I continue to see that in the servant leadership positions that I’ve held,” he said. “When I came to NDSU, I realized that it doesn’t take a lot of effort to make a big change. Finding a bunch of people who feel the same way is really what can make the world turn in a lot of different senses. I’ve always been the person who wants to be out there.”
Schwalbe continues stating that getting involved is the only way to make a true change. “If you want to make a change on campus, this is the way to do it,” he said. “The sense of satisfaction that something has happened, that I have even made a small impact around campus or in Fargo. The unity and the ability to make a change is great.”
Fargo-Moorhead has become home for Alfred Schwalbe. Oddly enough, it is the people of Fargo-Moorhead that have charmed Schwalbe so much. He feels the sense of community in our area. “Honestly, I just love the people and when people come together. Fargo-Moorhead has incredible support behind NDSU and they all support each other,” he said. “That’s very important to me and it feels like a community here, especially coming from a small school.”
He may have come from a small school on the Western side of North Dakota, but Alfred Schwalbe has made a big impact on North Dakota State and Fargo-Moorhead. With his willingness to fight for change and motivation to get involved, he is a dazzling example of what college students in our area are capable of. However, whatever he does here in Fargo-Moorhead will pale in comparison to what he does in the future for the animal science field.