News & Events

“This is my calling”: Student returns to BHSU in Rapid City to finish degree

Author: BHSU Communications/Monday, July 2, 2018/Categories: Students, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, Community, Faculty, 2018

Alyssa Florey always knew she wanted to go back to school. At age 31, Alyssa will graduate from Black Hills State University-Rapid City next year with a degree in elementary education.

This summer Alyssa is already putting her knowledge to good use as a kindergarten summer school teacher with the Rapid City Area School District.

“Teaching is definitely what I want to do; this is my calling. I know I’m in the right field being able to apply all the strategies we’ve learned in education psychology at BHSU-RC into the classroom,” says Alyssa.

Following a traditional path, Alyssa enrolled at BHSU in Spearfish following her graduation from high school. She went to BHSU for three semesters and worked while attending college. Eventually she decided to work full time with plans to return to college at a later date.

“I finally decided no matter how old I was, that I should go back to school,” says Alyssa.

She enrolled at a university that offered only online classes, enabling her to work and go to school. But that university was “extremely expensive” says Alyssa and it quickly ate up her financial aid.

“At the time I was only aware of BHSU in Spearfish. After I talked with Jake Hamik at BHSU-RC, I realized I could take evening classes in Rapid City – they worked around my schedule,” says Alyssa. “I worked during the day and then came to BHSU-RC for evening classes and took online classes. It was a lot more affordable, and honestly, it’s the only reason I was able to finish my degree.”

“It’s great to have the flexible options to take classes both in person and online, depending on your schedule and personal preferences,” says Alyssa.

Returning to school as a working adult was intimidating for Alyssa, but she says BHSU-RC is a welcoming place that feels like a big family. She appreciates having all her classes in one building, and thanks her advisors for being flexible with her needs.

“The first couple semesters I was back in college my advisor would talk with me over the phone and stay late   because I couldn’t get on the phone during one of my breaks from work. She helped me set up a graduation plan to stay on track and that was extremely helpful,” says Alyssa.

Dr. Janet Briggs, instructor of science education, has been a great support to Alyssa. A take-away from Briggs’ science methods course was when Briggs used the BHSU-RC parking lot to illustrate the expanse of the solar system.

“We orbited around each other so we could see the distance in the parking lot of all the planets. She had some students be planets, some were asteroids,” laughs Alyssa. “It really helped us to prepare for our future as teachers to think about presenting a topic in a way kids will understand. Rather than explaining that the planets are billions of miles away, she taught us how to show the distance in real life. Pluto was really far across the parking lot. She couldn’t even hear us!”

Last semester Alyssa was a substitute teacher a few times a week in the Rapid City Area School District. In the fall she will student teach in third grade at Wilson Elementary.

“The practicum hours and the field experience that we get, the individual time we’ve had with our professors at BHSU-RC has really prepped me as a teacher,” says Alyssa. “I know I can help the students who are struggling. All students, no matter their level or ability, need good teachers. That’s what drives me.”

About BHSU-Rapid City
BHSU has the largest teacher preparation program in the state. The elementary education degree can be completed onsite at BHSU-Rapid City. BHSU graduates have a 100 percent pass rate on licensure exams. A high percentage of graduates from the BHSU education program are hired immediately in classrooms from kindergarten through grade eight.

BHSU also offers a master’s degree in business administration and applied management (MBA) and several bachelor’s degrees that can be completed at BHSU-Rapid City. The bachelor’s degrees include: business administration, corporate communications, elementary education, general studies, history, history education, human services, political science, psychology, social science teaching, and sociology. In addition, BHSU-RC offers several associate degrees and certificates that can be completed without leaving Rapid City.

BHSU-RC is located at 4300 Cheyenne Blvd. on the east side of Rapid City with easy access from I-90. The University is committed to serving veterans, has a large network of alumni living in the region, and has a business program in the top five percent of business schools worldwide. In spring 2018, BHSU-RC debuted a new block schedule providing students a flexible way to take classes.

Fall classes begin August 20. There is still time to register. Learn more at

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