This is going to be a big weekend for Maryanne Darling-Reich of Belle Fourche.
On Friday, Dec. 7, Maryanne will turn 50 years old. On Saturday, Dec. 8, she will graduate from Black Hills State University with her bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Maryanne completed all her classes online while working full-time at Black Hills Energy.
“I always wanted to go back to school. I finally started taking college classes 25 years after I graduated from high school,” said Maryanne.
It was a combination of factors that finally encouraged Maryanne to pursue her degree: career growth, tuition reimbursement, and seeing her own three children pursue their college dreams.
“One of the biggest drivers for me was that I was in a plateau in my job,” said Maryanne. “I knew having my college degree would help me get to where I want to be in my career.”
Maryanne has worked at BH Energy for 10 years. She started in purchasing and is now a NERC (North American Electric Reliability Corporation) Compliance Analyst, helping to ensure her organization provides reliable electric service.
With BHSU online classes, Maryanne said she was able to complete her courses at her own pace, on her own time.
“I studied during lunch breaks, and if I traveled for work I could take my homework with me. It was great taking classes online because I wouldn’t miss class just because I was traveling.”
Maryanne chose to pursue a business administration degree through BHSU, with a specialization in management.
“A degree in business is universal – and I can make it fit any career path I want to take at BH Energy,” said Maryanne.
Thanks to the tuition reimbursement program through BH Energy, Maryanne said around one-third of her college costs were covered by employer.
After taking some classes at another university, Maryanne transferred to BHSU because of the business program’s AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) Accreditation. AACSB Accreditation means BHSU is among the top 5 percent of business schools worldwide.
Maryanne said she immediately noticed the professionalism of BHSU faculty and said she’s been impressed with the high-quality education she’s received.
In addition to her own growth and career progression, Maryanne said she enjoys applying what she’s learned at BHSU to help grow her husband’s business, Reich Precision, a custom, hand-forged knife-making company.
“For my very last assignment in Marketing Management, I created a marketing plan for his business. Using that plan is going to help us make Reich Precision more profitable,” said Maryanne.
A community leader, Maryanne currently serves on three boards: the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce as acting president, the Belle Fourche Economic Development Corporation, and the Northern Hills United Way Board of Directors. She is also involved in Empower Belle Fourche, a collective impact group, and Toastmasters. She hopes to launch a Northern Hills Toastmasters Club in the near future.
“I have no idea how long it would’ve taken me to get my degree if it hadn’t been for the online option at BHSU,” said Maryanne. “It’s not too late. It’s awesome to learn something every day and apply it to real life. I’m looking forward to the next stage.”