Commencement Banner 2019








BHSU 2019 Graduates Share Their Future Plans


Baylee LaCompte

American Indian Studies and Human Services major from Standing Rock Nation, McLaughlin, South Dakota


Name, major, and hometown?
Baylee LaCompte, Išnála Nážiŋ Wi (Stands Alone Woman), from Standing Rock Nation, McLaughlin, South Dakota. I’m double majoring in American Indian Studies and Human Services.

What were you involved with on campus?
Lakota Omniciye and the Thompson Diversion Program as a jury member – that was a great experience because I plan to be a lawyer. I also worked in the Mail Room on campus.

Who is your favorite professor at BHSU?
I learned a lot about my culture and my language from Jace DeCory and from the sacred He Sapa, the homeland of the Lakota Nation and other nations as well. Rosie Sprague is my advisor and is from the same reservation as I am. That connection has made me feel at home.

Tell me about your plans after graduation.
I plan to attend Arizona State in Tempe where I got accepted into my master’s program for American Indian Studies/Indigenous Rights and Social Justice. I was talking with Dr. Urla Marcus and she helped me look at different programs. The emphasis in justice through my Human Services major and the government and contemporary issues courses I took through American Indian Studies at BHSU, that’s what made me passionate about this field.

What will you miss about Black Hills State?
The scenery, the fresh air, and the connection to the land. I’ll miss being able to go hiking whenever I want to like I can now in the Black Hills.

What’s your favorite memory at Black Hills State?
Making many pieces of fry bread with my student organization Lakota Omniciye for our Indian Taco Sale to raise funds for the Pow Wow (I have the burn marks to prove it)! I really appreciate the sustainability on campus, recycling and taking care of the Black Hills – home to our sacred sites.

What are you feeling as you approach graduation?
I’m graduating with two degrees; it’s a very positive feeling. My mom graduated from BHSU in 1994 and still has her student ID! She will bead my graduation cap in my regalia colors. I’m a jingle dress dancer so it will be blue, yellow, orange, and black. I will carry forth the teachings that go with wearing the plume during graduation - always being industrious as a woman because women are the backbone of our Nation.

How has BHSU prepared you for your future?
Coming from a smaller university has helped me think clearly about what I want to do in the future. My objective is to go back to my reservation, Standing Rock, and be a tribal judge. What I’ve learned from college is it doesn’t matter where you earn your education, it’s how you use that education after you graduate.


Makenzie Skovlund

Special Education major from Sturgis, South Dakota


 

Name, major, and hometown?
My name is Makenzie Skovlund. I’m from Sturgis, South Dakota, and I am a Special Education major.

Who is your favorite professor at BHSU?
Dr. Jessica Zanton. She was always willing to help. I took many classes with her – she’s very knowledgeable and I really connected with her. I’ve talked with Dr. Zanton about the classroom I’ll be teaching in next year; she’s already a great resource for me in that sense, too. In one of her classes I wrote my first-ever Individualized Education Program (IEP). For special education, that’s a huge part of our job. Having the class to practice and her feedback was incredible.

Tell me about your plans after graduation.
I accepted a position with Meade School District at the Sturgis Elementary School. I’ll be building an autism classroom, it’s the first in the district. I’ll be building it from the ground up.

What were you involved in during college?
I was a program aide at an afterschool program. Because many of my classes were online, I was also able to be a paraprofessional at a school in Sturgis. It was a great opportunity to get hands-on experience while I was going to school.

Tell me about a moment when you experienced growth during college.
Student teaching. When you’re in the classroom every day, you realize there is so much that impacts student learning. The biggest thing I realized is that it doesn’t always matter what’s in your lesson plan. If the child is having a bad day, they just need their teacher to be there for them, to give them a hug, and to encourage them. That’s what I learned through student teaching – sometimes the content of your lesson plan is going to take the back burner and you just need to be there for those kids, love them, and be there for their emotional health as well, not only the mental and academic aspects of teaching.

What will you miss about Black Hills State?
I think I’ll miss the comradery – having those other special education majors that I can talk to and text. That sense of belonging that I’m a SPED major and I have all these people on my team.

What’s your favorite memory at Black Hills State?
I loved homecoming week and going to the football game. BHSU is not a huge school and you still have that “hometown” feel here, along with the college athletics.

How are you feeling as you approach graduation?
I feel ready. Black Hills State really prepared me. The education program is wonderful. I’m also a little sad. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to this chapter and have that new one on the horizon.

How has BHSU prepared you for your future?
Having all those opportunities to be in the classroom, even before you get to student teaching, is very helpful. Having the Field Experiences Office at BHSU, Micheline Nelson and Jean Osborn, there for you during the entire process and you can always turn to them with your questions. I’m so thankful I came here. My mom said the same thing – she earned her teaching credential from BHSU. It’s a great program and it really prepares you for your future and your teaching career.


Jase Wilts

Mass Communications major with an emphasis in Photography from Morris, Minnesota

Name, major, and hometown?
My name is Jase Wilts. I’m from Morris, Minn., and my major is Mass Communications with an emphasis in Photography.
 

Who is your favorite professor at BHSU?

Seth Harwood - he’s really relatable with students. The class I took with Seth was Alternative Processes. He’s very down to earth and good at explaining course material.

Tell me about your plans after graduation.
I’m going to Iceland with a photography group from BHSU in May. BHSU professors Scott Chandler and Jerry Rawlings are leading the trip. Then I start my job June 3 at Superior Industries as a graphic designer and videographer. Superior is a manufacturing company – they manufacture conveyors mostly for sand and gravel. I had a month-long internship with them last summer. They offered me a full-time job.

Tell me about a moment when you experienced growth during college.
The most growth for me was making the decision to transfer to BHSU and pursue what I wanted to do. I went to South Dakota State University for a year-and-a-half for an ag-related major then I got into photography. I looked for programs where I could study photography and saw Black Hills State. I didn’t know the town of Spearfish until I looked it up. I visited Spearfish and loved it.

What will you miss about Black Hills State?
I’ll miss being able to go fishing or hiking after class for a little bit before work.

What’s your favorite memory at Black Hills State?
For the Senior Show with photo and graphic design students, we were able to hang our photos in the Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City; I actually sold one of those photographs the other day. I also had some black and white photos hung on the walls of Jonas Hall. It’s cool to see people come up close to look at those photos.

How has BHSU prepared you for your future?
I worked with Janette Hettick, retention and recruitment specialist in the College of Liberal Arts, to search for internships. I came up with one through Fauna Forever working with Untamed Photography in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru. Janette encouraged me to pursue the internship and my photography professor Jerry Rawlings said I should go for it. I applied and got accepted a couple of weeks later.
I flew to Puerto Maldonado, was in the city for a week and then we went into the jungle for 28 days. It’s probably the craziest experience of my life. We went on night walks to find reptiles to photograph. The main skills I learned photographing wildlife – reptiles and frogs that stay still – is focusing on the eye and getting that focus perfect by zooming in. We also helped with a mirror project. The footage was picked up by National Geographic. We helped our coordinator set up a mirror in the rainforest and then a camera right next to the mirror. It recorded the reactions of animals walking by and seeing their reflection in the mirror.
Wildlife photography and my internship at Superior were totally opposite experiences, but they gave me different perspectives on what I could do with photography. I won’t have to just be doing one thing for the rest of my life.
The photography studio classes at BHSU taught me a lot about light. I have a minor in entrepreneurial studies and those classes taught me about the business field. I was able to find a good balance between photo and business at BHSU.


Julie Penney

Business Administration Major with an emphasis in Human Resource Management from Alliance, Nebraska

 

Name, major, and hometown?
Julie Penney, Business Administration - Human Resource Management major from Alliance, Neb.

What were you involved with on campus?
I was involved in the Student Advisory Board at BHSU-Rapid City. I really enjoyed being part of the Board and having my and other students voices heard.

Who is your favorite professor at BHSU?
Dr. Carrie Stringham. She taught the class very well. She knows what she’s doing because she’s worked in this profession. With me being a little older, when she came into the class - I felt like we clicked right away.

Tell me about your plans after graduation.
I just started a job in human resource management in February at Simon in Rapid City. I’m doing exactly what I wanted to do with my degree.

Tell me about a moment you experienced personal growth during college?
Growth was more gradual for me. You start out not knowing what to expect in college with the classes, and then you realize, “I can do this.” You gain a confidence as you go through each semester.

What will you miss about Black Hills State?
I will miss meeting the professors and the students. When you start a college class there’s a certain anxiousness and excitement. I’ll miss that excitement and being in the classroom.

What’s your favorite memory at Black Hills State?
I received a few scholarships from BHSU and when I was given that support it really made me feel good. It showed BHSU was willing to invest in me.

How as BHSU prepared you for your future?
A college degree gives you critical thinking skills. Even though I had those skills, I feel a degree sharpens that ability.

What does it mean to you to be a first-generation college student?
If you have a dream of getting a degree, it’s not too late. We made sure our kids achieved their college degrees, and I was in college while they were in college, too. It is something that is really special to our family now - a dream fulfilled together.


Jared Kovall-Scarlett

Business Administration major from Rapid City, South Dakota
 

Name, major, and hometown?
My name is Jared Kovall-Scarlett. I’m from Rapid City, South Dakota. My major is Business Administration.

What have you been involved with on campus?
On campus I was involved in the Trap Shooting Club, history and cultural classes with international travel, and ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps). ROTC has been a huge part of my life here at BHSU: physical training three days a week, going to lab, doing different lanes/tactical exercises. It’s really helped develop my leadership abilities, self-confidence, and provided a great opportunity for me to come to BHSU and start a career in the Army.

Tell me more about your international experiences during college.
I traveled on four different BHSU-led international trips and received course credit for each during college. The way I was able to pay for this was through my ROTC Scholarship. ROTC pays my tuition up to $9,999 each semester, and thanks to BHSU’s tuition being low I was able to take a full load of 18-19 credits, also take the international classes and still be under that threshold. I’m graduating debt free.
The first place I went was on a service learning trip to Africa. We went on a safari, did a bike ride around Johannesburg, experienced the local life and culture, and then traveled to Gaborone, Botswana, where we taught three days in a secondary school.
After Africa I went to Italy for a food, culture and history class.
I then went to China over the summer. I took language and cultural classes at China Three Gorges University. I was in tears after that, I made many good friends from China, Korea, and Italy that summer.
Then in the fall, I went to the Philippines for another international service learning course.
Interacting with all these different cultures and people really expanded my worldview. Before I went to college I was more narrow-minded. Getting a new perspective on global issues and how others approach world issues really benefited me. Taking that into the Army – a multicultural and global organization, we have hundreds of military bases around the world – already having interactions with different cultures will give me a one-up over my colleagues.

Who is your favorite professor at BHSU?
All of them have contributed something to my education and I really appreciate every single professor for teaching me and helping develop me as a person. I especially appreciate Dr. Courtney Huse Wika. She was director of the University Honors Program and my advisor. I’ve taken many of her classes and went to Italy with her for a cultural class. I’ll also give a shout-out to the cadre for ROTC: Captain Jeremy DeLoach and Nadim Antar. They’ve both developed me as a person and as a future Army Officer. Without them I would not be where I am today.

Tell me about your plans after graduation.
I’ll be going into the active duty Army. I’ll be stationed in Fort Drum, N.Y., and have a four-year commitment. In the Army I’ll be a transportation officer – basically that’s moving things: ammunition, water, fuel. Once I graduate on May 4 I’ll go to Fort Lee in Virginia for 16 weeks to learn how to do my job. I’ll be graduating without any debt and the military gave me a monthly stipend throughout school. My mom was in the National Guard, my dad was in the Air Force, my grandpa was in the Army. We have a long family history of serving our country and I will continue that tradition.

Tell me about a moment when you experienced growth during college.
In ROTC we have Field Training Exercises where BHSU, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, and Chadron State College in Nebraska get together to do different tactical lanes. During that I was Platoon Sergeant and it really tested all I’d learned through ROTC and molded me into the leader I am today.

What will you miss about Black Hills State?
I’ve really enjoyed the sense of community with all the students at BHSU. I’ve made a lot of connections. The area is beautiful, the Black Hills, the small town community – I’ve found that really comforting. I was also 45 minutes away from my hometown which was also nice. I’ll be going away here soon to the Army, a much different world.

What’s your favorite memory at Black Hills State?
Going out in the Hills and hiking with friends. I remember my freshman year, everyone was so welcoming, I made a lot of friends that way – piling into a car, driving out into the Hills, and finding a place to hike. I’ll miss that so much.

How has BHSU prepared you for your future?
I feel like Black Hills State has definitely prepared me for my future, although what I’m going into next will be a different environment. I feel like we have such a diverse student body and faculty. I’ve been able to experience different cultures despite being in small town South Dakota. I feel like that’s really given me an advantage.


Luis Bach

Exercise Science major from Rapid City, South Dakota
 

Name, major, and hometown?
Luis Bach, Exercise Science major from Rodenburg, Germany

What were you involved with on campus?
Most of my extra time was spent with the football team. I was offered a scholarship to play football at BHSU and the majority of my day was spent in class, in the weight room or on the practice field. After my final football season I got involved with Student Support Services. I was a tutor for a couple of classes. I also worked over the summers for the grounds crew at BHSU.

Who is your favorite professor at BHSU?
Dr. Daniel Jensen from the Exercise Science Department. He made classes fun and interactive. He’s a cool guy to be around and very knowledgeable. Another professor would be Dr. Ashley Pfieffer. She had a fun nickname for me. I brought grilled cheese sandwiches for breakfast on the first day of class, and from that day on I was known as “Grilled Cheese Man.”

Tell me about your plans after graduation.
I got an internship at Stanford University in California for strength and conditioning. I’ll help the Athletic Department with development of the athletes there and get more into the field of exercise science. I used the knowledge I gained in the exercise science program at BHSU during the interview for this internship.

Tell me about a moment you experienced personal growth during college?
Last October I tore my ACL and MCL, two ligaments in my right knee. That was a hard reality to take in. The first couple weeks I was pretty down. But all then with all the people at BHSU – the support staff, the coaches, players, other students – it helped me to get past that stage and look more to the future. Bad things are going to happen and you have to learn how to deal with them. I used what I learned from playing football and being a student at BHSU, taking it one day at a time. I can see myself being more grownup from that experience.

What will you miss about Black Hills State?
Definitely the Hills. My favorite hike is Crow Peak. The hiking, being out in nature, walking on campus in the morning or after workouts – seeing the sunrise and sunset from campus. It’s a really relaxed place with a great atmosphere.

What’s your favorite memory at Black Hills State?
My first year here in 2016 we played Colorado Mesa University in football. They were ranked #13 in the nation at the time. We were able to pull off the upset and beat them by 14 points. That day, walking off the field knowing you’ve done something that has never been done at BHSU, was amazing.

What are you feeling as you approach graduation?
Excitement. I’ve accomplished the things I wanted to accomplish in college and now it’s time for me to step into life. I leave Spearfish with a smile.

How has BHSU prepared you for your future?
It helped me by having real relationships with people. I went to the University of Wyoming first - that’s where I started my college career. It was different being at a bigger school. I didn’t really know much about the professors there. You’d just show up, do your thing, that’s it. Whereas here, I interact with the professors. They know me as a person. Dr. Daniel Jensen is helping with my rehab for the knee injury. Having people here who care about you, that’s what I’m taking forward as I build relationships in the future.


Spring commencement ceremony to honor nearly 400 graduates

Nearly 400 graduates will be recognized during the 177th Black Hills State University Commencement Ceremony. View the list of graduates. The spring commencement ceremony is at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 4 at the Donald E. Young Sports and Fitness Center on the BHSU campus. An honorary doctorate will be bestowed upon Lt. Col. Brett Theeler, MD, a 2001 graduate of BHSU, who serves as deputy chief of the Department of Neurology at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.  Read Article

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