altIt’s official: Rep. Kristi Noem is now a college grad.

Nearly 20 years after taking her first courses towards a degree, the South Dakota Republican donned a cap and gown on Saturday as she received her diploma from South Dakota State University.

Noem described in an e-mail the emotions that were running through her head on graduation day: “I felt fulfillment because I’d finished what I’d started and set an example for my kids about the importance of follow-through.”

When her father died in a farming accident while Noem was in her twenties, the future lawmaker dropped out of a full-time college to help her family.

But after deciding to hit the books once again, the congresswoman and mom of three, 40, had a bit of a juggling act on her hands: “It wasn't easy. It was a lot of studying in airports and a lot of late nights after the kids went to bed. But it was also incredibly relevant to be taking these classes while serving in Congress.”

And her coursework sometimes came in handy at the Capitol. Noem explains, “For example, when we were debating the debt ceiling here in Washington, I was studying debt crises in Europe throughout history in one of my political science classes.”

A political science major (naturally), she was even able to earn internship credits for school from her work in the House.

While she hasn’t decided where she’ll hang her diploma yet — she says she might keep it at her South Dakota home since her family was the reason she went back to school — this may not be the end of Noem’s academic pursuits.

The educationally inclined congresswoman tells us, “I am considering getting my Masters Degree sometime in the future.”