International exchange students choosing to stay and obtain degrees from BHSU

Author: BHSU Communications/Thursday, January 12, 2017/Categories: 2017

Students in the Academic English Preparation Program at Black Hills State University visit Mt. Rushmore. After attending BHSU for a semester or a year, international exchange students are choosing to stay at BHSU to complete their degrees.

Center, Kie Tatsukawa, business administration-tourism and hospitality management major from Hiroshima, Japan celebrates her graduation from Black Hills State University with Carol and Jim Boke of Spearfish. The Bokes helped to guide and support Tatsukawa and other BHSU international students. After attending BHSU for a semester or a year, international exchange students are choosing to stay at BHSU to complete their degrees.

As she graduates from Black Hills State University, Karin Humar, business administration-marketing major from Slope, Slovenia, removes her country's pin from a map designating the countries of BHSU international students. Humar, and six other graduating international students, represent an increase in the number of international students choosing to stay at BHSU to complete their degrees.

Seven international students graduated with bachelor's degrees from Black Hills State University in December, a notable achievement for the University as it aims to increase global engagement.

Seven international students graduated with bachelor's degrees from Black Hills State University in December, a notable achievement for the University as it aims to increase global engagement.

Several of the graduating international students said they originally planned to stay at BHSU for only a semester or a year, hoping to transfer to a school on the coast or in a bigger city. But the combination of high-quality academics, engaged faculty, and the supportive community at BHSU encouraged them to stay.

Kie Tatsukawa, business administration-tourism and hospitality management major from Hiroshima, Japan, said she researched several schools in the U.S. before selecting BHSU.

"When you come to the U.S. everyone imagines California or New York, but I picked BHSU in South Dakota because of the hospitality management program," said Tatsukawa. "In the beginning I was planning to transfer schools but I decided to stay here because the professors are very helpful. BHSU has a really good, accredited business program."

Since graduating from BHSU in December, Tatsukawa has since returned to Japan where she's starting her new job at George P. Johnson, a multinational event marketing company.

Derrek Tyler, corporate communication major from Jakarta, Indonesia, followed in his father's footsteps when choosing BHSU. His father grew up in Belle Fourche and attended BHSU before settling in Indonesia where Tyler was born and raised.

"BHSU is a great university to get a good value out of your education. Originally I wanted to go to school in Japan, but when I found out it would be twice as much money I decided to come to BHSU," said Tyler.

Tyler planned to complete his general courses at BHSU and then transfer to an engineering school. But he says he enjoyed his business communication classes at BHSU and discovered corporate communication was a better fit. Tyler said the academic quality at BHSU combined with seeing snow for the first time and learning a popular outdoor sport, disc golf, proved that BHSU was the right place for him.

International students change the landscape of a University campus for the better, according to Kaitlin Schneider, international admissions representative with the BHSU Office of International Relations and Global Engagement.

"Having international students on campus gives our domestic students an opportunity to exchange ideas, acquire new language skills, increase critical thinking, and be better equipped to live and work in our global environment," said Schneider.

In addition to the seven graduating international students in December, BHSU also welcomed 12 exchange or study abroad students to campus this past semester along with 10 international students who participated in the Academic English Preparatory program, a program that helps develop English writing, reading and speaking skills for international students. Karin Humar, business administration-marketing major from Slope, Slovenia, came to BHSU as a short-term exchange student in 2013. But after her first semester at BHSU, Humar says she knew she wanted to stay and finish her degree in Spearfish. Humar graduated from BHSU in December and was selected to deliver the commencement address.

"I flourished here at BHSU," said Humar, noting the business accreditation, professors, staff, outside the classroom experiences, and outdoor landscape that make the University unique. "In Slovenia, our education is paid for. But I love studying at BHSU and it is worth it to me. The whole environment and the community is very supportive here."

After spending the holidays with family in Slovenia, Humar is planning to return to the U.S. to work for one year through the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. She's already interviewing for jobs related directly to her degree from BHSU.

Another area of international growth for BHSU is the increase in faculty-led programs. This past year, BHSU students traveled with faculty on the following excursions:
  • Zambia with Dr. Bobbi Looney, assistant professor of management, as part of a rural impact investment project to empower Zambian farmers with a sustainable source of income
  • Germany with Jeffrey Wehrung, assistant professor of management, to study business and entrepreneurial development
  • China as part of the United Nations Academic Impact Program at BHSU partner university China Three Gorges
  •  Botswana and South Africa with Dr. Charlie Lamb, professor of biology, and Dr. Jane Klug, dean of students, for a service learning trip where they taught local students about leadership, self-esteem, and anti-bullying skills.
BHSU works with partner universities throughout the world in Africa, Asia, and Europe to host international students, and many BHSU students have reciprocated the exchange by studying abroad for a semester or an academic year.
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