The South Dakotan
Hannah Prentice and Kelsey Webb are nearly
mirror images of each other on paper.
enrolled at the University of South Dakota as bright-eyed
freshmen in 2006, studied political science and Spanish during
the four years they spent in Vermillion and graduated in the
spring of 2010.
Four years later, the two shared another common thread—
or rather, title: campaign manager for a South Dakota
Prentice, 26, began to work for Democratic State Rep. Susan
Wismer nearly a year ago to kick off her gubernatorial run.
Webb, 27, had more than three years working as a staff member
for Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard before being asked to run
his re-election campaign.
They worked for opposing political parties, but the academic
roots to their political careers began in the same class—
instructor Mary Pat Bierle’s POLS 100, American Government.
Prentice and Webb both decided on USD after attending
South Dakota Girls State in Vermillion. They came to campus
with the intention to become lawyers, but they credit the
political science department, especially POLS 100, for arousing
an interest in political campaigning.
“I was so intimidated by Mary Pat as a freshman that I did
all the reading and work to stay on her good side. But I realized,
after all she did and does as a mentor, that she was opening a lot
of doors for us,” Webb said.
Prentice credits the political science faculty with providing
her with a work ethic that can stand its own with 18-hour days
on a campaign trail. Both women said when faced with difficult
decisions during the election season, they were able to turn
to mentors from the political science department for advice
“I may have left USD, but I know I can always ask for help
from the people who mentored me as a student. I don’t know if a
lot of people can say that about their department,” Prentice said.
A Tale of Two
2010 political science
By Megan Card, Class of 2014