Career Path for Recent College Grad: Get Elected and Serve Community

This is a busy time of year as college students around the country graduate and begin their careers. 

With cap and gown, Carla Shutrop walked across the stage three years ago at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota and received her B.A. in political science.

However, unlike many her age, she was elected to public office just five short months after graduation.

Carla was elected to the school board in her hometown of Shakopee, Minnesota in November 2009, where she spent her first year of the four-year term as treasurer, her second year as vice-chair, and now serves as the elected chair of the board, a post she’s held since January.

As chair of the school board, Carla chairs the twice-a-month board meetings, appoints the standing and ad hoc committees and chairs, serves as the board liaison to the superintendent, and assumes the role of spokesperson to the public at large.

“Shakopee School District has been and continues to be a fast-growing district,” Carla told the Leadership Institute.  The Shakopee School District serves more than 7,000 students from the communities of Shakopee, Savage, Prior Lake, and Jackson, Louisville, and Sand Creek Townships. 

“We built and opened a new elementary school this past fall as well as realigned the attendance areas for the elementary schools.  We are opening a sixth grade center and moving to two junior high schools this coming fall.  We also hired an assistant superintendent position that will start July 1,” Carla reported.

Carla works hard to maintain strong education standards for her hometown, but she also works tirelessly for the Department of Veterans Affairs as a senior veterans service representative. Her love for public service started back in college.

“My interest and involvement in politics and policy started while I was in college,” Carla said, “and through campus involvement and through organizations such as Young America’s Foundation and the Leadership Institute, I was able to advance my skills.”

Carla was a member of two student groups the Leadership Institute’s Campus Leadership Program field representatives helped start: Females for Firearms and Gusties for Restoring America.

“The Leadership Institute has played the role in helping me build a solid foundation for public service and leadership.  LI also allowed me to have access to resources and network connections that continue to be valuable to me today and in the future,” Carla said.

Carla took LI’s Youth Leadership School in September 2008.

“The Youth Leadership School was very valuable with training on earned media vs. free media, how to develop a public relations strategy, and the overall election process.  It focused specifically on how to focus on the youth vote.  All of these skills transferred easily into a public campaign,” Carla said.

She so enjoyed the training in September that she returned for more in in November 2008 and took LI’s Campus Election Workshop.

“In the Campus Election Workshop I learned how to strategize for student government elections as well as how to recruit candidates, and target voters on campus,” Carla shared.

Carla is up for re-election on the Shakopee School District School Board in November 2013, if she chooses to run again. Or who knows? She may decide to continue on the public service career path and someday run for higher office.

Carla joins tens of thousands of other Leadership Institute graduates working in public service.  Please welcome Carla as the Leadership Institute's graduate of the week!

“The Leadership Institute grants access to great resources to be effective as a college student on campus and beyond,” Carla said. Take advantage of the opportunity if you get the chance to gain this invaluable information.” 

Go here for a full LI training schedule.

To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate to be featured as LI's graduate of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Hart at