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Love of technology leads DSU student to SDN Scholars Program and internship

Dakota State University student Gabe Valle

Gabe Valle isn’t a South Dakota native, but he has found a home in the state to complete his college education and start a career.

Valle is the 2023 recipient of the SDN Communications Dakota Scholar Award. He's a student at Dakota State University, will finish his degree in December 2024 and start an internship with SDN this spring. Valle is the scholarship's second recipient, which allots $2,500 per semester for two years.

For Valle, the financial award and internship opportunity came at a perfect time.

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“This internship is what I needed at this moment — it’s exactly what I was looking for in my field with a reputable company with good standing in the industry,” he said. “And I don’t have to worry about debt these last two years of college.”

Valle and his family — his parents, a younger sister, younger brother and two cats — now call Pierre home but spent many years in Florida and Texas. Valle was homeschooled and took some college courses while earning his high school diploma. He said he always gravitated toward computers and knew whatever he studied and chose for a career would need to involve computers. Dakota State University was an obvious place to get that degree.

A man plays video games with two computer monitors
Along with an interest in the technology field, SDN Communications Scholar Gabe Valle is an avid gamer.

His initial major was cyber operations.

“It sounded like the stuff I want to do — stop hackers and build defenses,” he said. “But I ran into quite the quandary when I had to learn assembly language. I just couldn’t click with it and I thought maybe writing code isn’t for me.”

Valle learned that several other courses would also require working with assembly language, so he opted to change his major to cybersecurity. It was an easy switch and he didn’t lose any credits, he said. This semester Valle is taking several networking courses and a scripting class that uses Python language — which is much easier for him to work with, he said.

The start of Valle’s college experience fell during Covid and he opted to start online. Now 21 years old, Valle studies remotely from his home in Pierre. He said DSU has been able to set up digital spaces that allow him to access different workstations, all stored virtually on the cloud, to complete his classwork.

A mother and her son take a selfie in front of Mount Rushmore
Gabe Valle is shown at Mount Rushmore during a visit with his mother.

In his free time, Valle spends time on the computer when he isn’t working as a pizza delivery driver or doing schoolwork. He’s a gamer and enjoys video editing. He also takes advantage of the outdoors — hiking local trails, kayaking on the Missouri River and going to the skeet shooting range outside of town.

Valle looks forward to moving to Sioux Falls and working at SDN Communications. He’s excited for more shopping and food options compared to what's available the capital city.

“I haven’t had a consistent source for Chick-Fil-A since Florida,” he joked. Access to GameStop and several retail options for computer parts are also high on the list of benefits to moving.

“I can’t wait to get life started in Sioux Falls,” he said.

About the SDN Communications Scholar program at DSU

Recipients must have completed 60 or more credit hours of undergraduate coursework by the start of the fall semester when the scholarship is awarded, have a 3.0 or greater GPA and plan on starting their careers in South Dakota. The DSU scholars program provides scholarships sponsored by South Dakota companies for students in that respective company’s field of expertise. Applications open March 18 and close March 28. For more information, call the Dakota State University Foundation at (605) 256-5693.