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Featured Alumni


Kaitlin Psychology Student

Why did you choose BHSU?
I chose BHSU because of the fantastic location! I toured a few other colleges but knew that I would be happiest in the atmosphere provided by the Black Hills! My hobbies include skiing, hiking, bicycling, fishing, hunting, and creating art. What other place could better suit my interests? Academically, I chose BH because of the small student to teacher ratio. I like to know my professors and be known by them. I did not want to just be a number in a sea of other students. The tuition rate was affordable for me and I knew I would be getting a great education! 

Why did you choose Psychology?
Growing up, my parents always told me, "do what you love and find a way to get paid to do it." I began college with an undeclared major. I had so many interests and knew that there were endless possibilities; it was so hard to even think about what I wanted to do for a living. As I began to take more courses, I found myself actually enjoying the act of studying when preparing for my Psychology classes. I found my niche when one professor specifically sparked my interest so much that I began talking to him constantly about the material and continuously asking questions. I even read the book when I wasn't assigned to! All of a sudden, I realized that this is exactly the answer I was looking for to help me choose what I wanted to be when I grew up. Once I realized that I love to learn about Psychology, I realized that I could be a professor of Psychology! 

In your experience, what do you see as the most beneficial aspect of the Psychology program?
When people ask why I love college, I say it is because I am being taught by people who share my love for knowledge. The professors in the Psychology department are passionate about their field, are active learners, and love teaching others about their passion. I can see their enjoyment as I learn the concepts from their lectures. To me, this is the purpose of higher education; the teacher should enjoy the experience of their students learning. This has been my encounter with every single faculty member of the department. 

What do you plan to do after graduation?
After graduation, I will continue to do experimental research so that I can go to conferences and gather more experience before graduate school. It will be a difficult choice when deciding on a program but luckily I have a little time to think and to find my best fit. I am very excited to find myself in another academic setting surrounded by others who love to learn, teach, and explore psychology. 

What have been your experiences outside the classroom at BHSU?
Research: Dr. Karagiorgakis and I have been working collaboratively for over a year now on a few projects. My first project stemmed as a pilot test in my Research Methods class and grew to be my Honors Senior Project. We have been investigating how drawing can effect stress levels after a stressful event. Recently we began investigating the effect of high induced stress on a mock witness’ ability to identify a perpetrator from a police lineup. Lastly, I have also gotten great research experience through a job on campus with Professor Gibson, Professor Looney, and Dr. Caton-Rosser exploring social media in the classroom as their research assistant. It is interesting how my first experience in a research based classroom has transformed into a hobby, a job, and a future for me!

Internship:
My internship experience helped me to solidify my career choice because I was the Psychology Department Intern. As the intern, I got to shadow the professors, correct papers, proctor classes in professors' absences, give guest lectures, go to administrative meetings, and advise students during registration for classes. I learned so much during my internship semester that I never would have in a classroom. 

Tutoring Assistant: 
As a tutoring assistant, I went to class and helped students on assignments during their class as well as studying with students who needed a little extra help preparing for exams. For the professor, I corrected lab assignments and tests. This was a fun experience of working side by side with a professor and helped me see the classroom from another perspective. 

Travel:
For my last semester of college, I decided to study abroad in Florence, Italy. So far, it has been a phenomenal experience. Yes, I am taking classes here and am enjoying my studies, but there is a learning experience in everything else I do too. I think gaining a cultural perspective will help me in the future with anything I do. I have become a better navigator, planner, and communicator, and much more flexible. A whole new web of networks has been created for me in just my two weeks of being here. I cannot wait to see what the next few months have in store for me!  

What is one piece of advice you would give incoming freshman?
College is not just the next step you take after high school. It must be a conscious decision with desire to be enlightened. Choose academia for the right reasons and grasp at any opportunity to do something extra that will set you apart. On graduation day, we will all have the same diploma so make your vita better than your competitors'. Lastly, embrace the idea that it is good to be a nerd. 

Autumn Psychology Student

Why did you choose BHSU?
In the beginning, I chose BHSU because no one from my hometown area was going here, the location is absolutely beautiful and far from anything I’d see at home, and it was far enough from home that I couldn’t go home every weekend but close enough that if something happened I could still make it back in a day. After actually going to classes here, I was even happier I made the decision to attend BHSU because it was the perfect fit for me; I come from a very small town and BHSU gives you that small town feeling and class size but still has options for you to choose from.

Why did you choose Psychology?
I had decided to major in Psychology before I had even applied to any colleges. I have always felt this “pull” toward attempting to understand people and their behavior, or what makes them tick. I’ve also always felt the need to help others in ways they might not be able to help themselves, and Psychology always seemed to be the perfect tool. I’ve always said that my biggest life goal is to save a child’s life because so many seem to be lost and hurting nowadays, and I feel that Psychology will only help prepare me more for that.

In your experience, what do you see as the most beneficial aspect of the Psychology program?
The all-around atmosphere in the classrooms and the approachability of the professors in the department is the most beneficial. Every class I’ve been in has been so full of life and has had such open discussions that I find it would be near impossible for someone to have an opinion that wasn’t respected by everyone else in the class. Most, if not all, the professors have an open-door policy which makes approaching them with questions and concerns, whether in their office or in class, so much easier than other universities where you may only be a number on a roster and a face in the crowd: Professors make a point to know you at BHSU.

What do you plan to do after graduation?
The most recent plan is to apply to Master’s level programs for School Counseling so that I can work with young students in the Black Hills area, or at least in South Dakota. I would like to emphasize in an area that allows me to work with minority populations, specifically the Native American population. Whether or not my future entails going after a PhD is still up in the air, but not completely ruled out. After graduation, I’d mainly like to see where life takes me that I’m most happy.

What have been your experiences outside the classroom at BHSU?
I’ve been involved with the Theta Nu sorority and peer mentoring for Student Support Services and General Psychology students, which has allowed me to make life-long friends and learn valuable leadership and interpersonal skills. I’ve also had the privilege to be a teaching assistant for several psychology classes and take part in research valuable to the education community which has given me priceless knowledge and helped prepare me for graduate school and whatever else may lie ahead of me.

What is one piece of advice you would give incoming freshman?
Don’t forget who you are and about your own happiness. Sometimes you need to put yourself first so that you are okay with you. Don’t let anyone tell you who you are and where you should be, the only person who can tell you what you need to be doing with your life is you. Listen to yourself and follow your heart.

Listen to Andrew Jordan Thayer, psychology major at BHSU, as he discusses experiential learning projects in which he has been involved and the benefits resulting from those experiences.

Recently we asked Ava Sauter, a senior Psychology major, a few questions about her experience here at BHSU.

Why did you choose BHSU?
I began my academic career wanting to become a high school English teacher and BHSU was well known for its education program.

Why did you choose Psychology?
My decision to go into psychology can be attributed to a number of great professors. These professors sparked my interest in psychology and guided me into a new way of thinking about the world. They helped me develop a passion that has ultimately shaped my future.  

In your experience, what do you see as the most beneficial aspect of the Psychology program?
The most beneficial aspect is by far the people that hold it up. I say “hold” because these individuals take what they are given and use it in the most effective way to create a department that is aimed at preparing students for lifetime careers in psychology. They make the department great.

What do you plan to do after graduation?
That’s a very good question. The truth is that I’m not sure at the moment and I kind of like that. I know that I want to travel for a while and challenge myself in other ways than just academically. The ultimate plan is to attend graduate school and get my PhD in research psychology working with aspects of trauma.

What have been your experiences outside the classroom at BHSU?
I have to be honest and say that if I wasn’t in a classroom at BHSU, I probably wasn’t at BHSU. The Spearfish community has been very good to me and has provided the medium for a number of great adventures. 

What is one piece of advice you would give incoming freshman?
Find your passion. It gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning. 

Meet Erin Murtha Why did you choose BHSU?
Initially, I chose BHSU because of its location. I stayed here because I truly enjoy my courses and professors.

Why did you choose Psychology?
At first, I was drawn to psychology because it is such an interesting field. Over the course of my college experience, I have come to the realization that this field fits well with who I am as a person.  

In your experience, what do you see as the most beneficial aspect of the Psychology program?
The interaction with the professors in this department has been the most beneficial aspect of the Psychology program for me.  They are truly interested in expanding the knowledge and skill set of their students and helping them prepare for life after college, whether they continue with graduate school or join the work force.

What do you plan to do after graduation?
I will be applying to a few different Clinical and Counseling Psychology programs this fall. Once I’m done with graduate school, I hope to be a counselor and work with couples. I can also see myself teaching at a university level.

What have been your experiences outside the classroom at BHSU?
I’ve had the opportunity to take part in different organizations and activities which has allowed me to meet new people and make friends. I have had the privilege to intern with the BHSU Psychology Department this semester and have taken on the role of teaching assistant for a number of classes. As a teaching assistant, I have been given the opportunity to lecture and conduct study sessions and have gained valuable knowledge thus far that will help me with graduate school and beyond.  

What is one piece of advice you would give incoming freshman?
Work hard and get involved early; your college education is what you make of it, and it will be over faster than you think.   

 

Meet BHSU's Psychology Alumni...