Name: Marcella Prokop
Employer: Southeast Technical College
Position/Title: Director of Access and Workforce Opportunity
Tell us a little bit about yourself (hometown, family, hobbies, fun facts)
I grew up on a farm in northwest Nebraska and moved to Sioux Falls in 2001 to study journalism at Augustana University. My mom is from Colombia, so I’ve spent a lot of time there and visiting family as a child inspired my love of travel and learning about other cultures. I’ve worked in higher education for 13 years, as a tutor, an instructor and now as someone who leads inclusion and college access initiatives at Southeast Tech. My husband Sean and I have one child, Cedar James.
Why did you join Rotary Club of Downtown Sioux Falls?
For the two decades I’ve called this region home, I’ve heard about Downtown Rotary as this legendary space where information and ideas are shared. I love information and ideas, and I love thinking about how “being in the know” helps me make Sioux Falls a good place for my students and my family. I joined Downtown Rotary because I wanted to be one of the thought leaders who has a say in the ideas that shape our city.
How has joining Rotary helped you develop/grow in your career? (OR if you are a new member, what are you looking forward to most?)
Meeting others who care about our community has been a great joy. At Rotary meetings I’ve heard about initiatives that feed into the work I’m doing at STC, and being in the room gives me a chance to connect with people who might want to collaborate or offer support.
Are you on any Rotary committees? If so, explain the value you have gotten from joining a committee.
I’m on the Sioux52 committee. This group works to promote the value of mentorship and the many ways in which anyone can get connected to mentorship opportunities. As someone who has benefitted tremendously from mentorship, part of the value I get from being on this committee is being able to elevate the power of mentorship so that others can benefit from it as well.
What other clubs/boards/nonprofits are you involved with?
I serve on the board of Pathways for Inclusive and Equitable Workplaces and on the board for the South Dakota chapter of SkillsUSA.
Do you currently mentor as part of the Sioux 52 Initiative? If so, what has your experience been like?
I oversee a first-generation student peer mentorship program at STC, but that’s not through the Sioux52 initiative. However, through my involvement with the Sioux52 initiative and committee, a student and I were invited to present to the Mayor’s Youth Council, and that experience was great. Talking with high schoolers about how mentorship can make an impact and that peer mentors are some of the strongest mentors was inspiring. Watching the high school students ask questions of the college student was a lot of fun!
What would you tell someone that is considering joining Rotary Club of Downtown Sioux Falls?
If you want access to some of the movers and shakers of this city, it’s a great place to be. The opportunity to cultivate new relationships and learn from others happens at meetings, of course, but it’s easy to ask another member to join you for coffee and build a connection that way too.