Kristine Kvanli and Jim Nelson know how important scholarships are to students.
They were scholarship winners themselves during their time at SMSU and will be the guest emcees at tFriday's University Gala, which runs from 6 p.m. to midnight in the R/A Facility on campus.
The University Gala is SMSU's largest scholarship fundraiser, and supports Music, Fine Arts and Presidential Scholarships at SMSU.
Kvanli is a Montevideo native and 1996 alumna with a degree in theater and speech communication. She is currently an on-air host for Shop HQ, a national television/internet sales company based out of Eden Prairie.
"It's been around 23 years now," she said. "It used to be called ShopNBC."
Her schedule is crazy. "It's all over the board," she said. "It's not 9-to-5, that's for sure. " She works her share of nights on the show, and at times, her sleeping patterns are erratic. "I can sleep anywhere, any time," she maintains.
The show is "completely live, unscripted, with no teleprompter," she said. "It is syndicated to cable systems across the country."
She's approaching her seven-year anniversary. "I worked behind the scenes for three-and-a-half years," she said. "I was a visual stylist, I made sure the shows were camera-ready."
Preparation is key for Kvanli. Though she's on camera between two to four hours each day, "there's probably two hours of prep work for each hour you are on," she said. "There's a lot of product research involved. I sell all sorts of things - clothing to beauty to electronics, watches, collectable coins."
Kvanli received the Bush Memorial Scholarship and the SMSU Theater Scholarship while attending SMSU. "I liked the theatre program because you got into it right away. I auditioned for Mainstage shows when I first got there and got on stage right away.
"I love what I'm doing. Everything I've done to far - acting, radio, sales - has been a benefit to me."
Nelson is a New Brighton native and received a Presidential Scholarship, as well as an athletic scholarship. He graduated in 2009 with a degree in speech communication: radio/TV, and played football for the Mustangs for four years. He is currently the sports anchor for KVRR Fox in Fargo, a position he's held for two years. He does two shows - at 6 and 9 p.m. - Monday through Friday. He also does the planning and assignments for the three-person department.
After graduation, he worked for the BEK sports network, a cable company that broadcasts high school games across North Dakota. "I was the play-by-play guy," he said.
The job at KVRR came up, and it's a plum of a position in a town that's sports crazy. "If we covered nothing but North Dakota State football, I don't think we'd get a lot of complaints," he said of the Bison, two-time defending national FCS division champions.
The KVRR staff gets to "between eight and 10 games every Friday night," he said. "It definitely keeps us busy."
He's appreciative of the scholarships he received at SMSU, and of the opportunities the university afforded him. "I thought the radio/TV program was great. You get hands-on experience and when you are done, you are ready to work in that profession. A lot of schools you have to wait until your third or fourth year before you go on air. At SMSU, you have that chance as a freshman. That helped me a lot, because I was used to doing everything since I was a freshman."
They are two shining examples of an education that has propelled them to successful on-air careers. Given their hectic schedules, it also speaks highly of their desire to give back to the university as guest emcees next Friday night.