Congratulation Graduates

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Naveen Malik

Naveen Malik took biology at Harvard. She graduated from Northwestern. But after taking classes at those elite institutions, Naveen says the personal connections she’s formed at Black Hills State University have made all the difference in her success as a student.

Naveen is a nontraditional student with a nontraditional story. She served as the new media director for President Barack Obama’s campaign for President in his home state of Illinois. When President Obama won the election, Naveen was selected for a political appointment through the White House and worked at the Pentagon.

“I was deployed overseas to Afghanistan and while I was there I had a realization that I wanted to be a physician, which is what I wanted to do before I was involved in the campaign,” said Naveen. “I’d served my country and I was ready to pursue my dream.”

Read more about Naveen.

Oluwahola (Peter) Okoya

After visiting Rapid City through a work and travel program, Oluwahola (Peter) Okoya asked around about a local school with a master’s degree program focused on learning business. The resounding response was Black Hills State University.

Peter will graduate from BHSU this semester with his master’s in business administration (MBA). He landed a job at Charles Schwab in Denver where he’ll work full-time as a financial services professional.

“If you want to go to a school where learning matters, and apply what you learn in class to real-world experiences, BHSU is a good place to be,” says Peter, originally from Iberiko, Nigeria.

Read more about Oluwahola (Peter).

Amanda Krueger

BHSU graduating senior Amanda Krueger will soon begin her new job as a fourth grade teacher at Creekside Elementary in Spearfish, just a few doors down the hall from where she completed her student teaching.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to teach fourth grade,” says Amanda. An elementary education major from Spearfish, Amanda said she found out she got the job when Dan Olson, principal of Creekside Elementary, walked into her student teaching classroom and lightheartedly asked if the students knew anyone who could teach fourth grade next year.

Read more about Amanda.

Ellie Froschmayer

Eleanor (Ellie) Froschmayer was drawn to Black Hills State University after visiting the Crazy Horse Memorial on a family trip. That inspiration, combined with her American Indian Studies education at BHSU, has created a career path for Ellie to share her passions.

After she receives her degree from BHSU this weekend, Ellie will begin an internship at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge in Commerce City, Colo. Her goal is work for the U.S. Parks Service or in a diversity center at a University.

“For my internship I will be working with urban students and teaching them about the wildlife and how to conserve it,” says Ellie.

Read more about Ellie.

Elizabeth Williams

At Black Hills State University, graduating senior Elizabeth Williams found a school of peers who, like her, were driven and academically-focused. Elizabeth is an economics and finance management major from Miles City, Mont. After graduation, she’ll begin a full-time job as a commercial lender trainee in Billings.

The University Honors Program at BHSU has been a source of social and peer support for Elizabeth.

“It’s been so nice being surrounded by people who are like-minded to me, not necessarily in their views of the world, but how we push ourselves and strive for excellence,” says Elizabeth.

Read more about Elizabeth.

Garrett Kohler

As Garrett Kohler prepares to walk across the commencement stage, he says several key opportunities at Black Hills State University helped him along his path. Those opportunities included an internship at the Boys & Girls Club in Lead, traveling to Africa to present his research, and mentorship from a professor who guided his success.

“BHSU helped me with the opportunities to redirect my intention and my goals,” says Garrett, psychology major from Eau Claire, Wisc.

It took dropping out of college for Garrett to realize he needed an education. When he returned to college, Garrett met with an advisor at BHSU and they talked about Garrett’s interests and goals. As a first-generation college student, that extra guidance helped Garrett tremendously.

Read more about Garrett.

Maisee Pickart

Maisee Pickart is one of nearly 430 students who will graduate from Black Hills State University this weekend. A South Dakota native, Maisee says she is glad to be able to stay in her home state as she begins her career in accounting. After graduating from BHSU this weekend Maisee will move to Pierre to work at an accounting firm. She’ll also begin studying for the CPA exam this summer.

Looking back on her time at BHSU, Maisee said her experience with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program will continue to impact her life.

Read more about Maisee.

Shenae LaCroix

As she graduates from BHSU, Shenae LaCroix is leaving Spearfish better than she found it. Shenae was the recipient of the inaugural “Make a Difference Initiative” Scholarship at Black Hills State University in 2015, established with a $1 million donation by Dr. James Hess, professor of psychology and chair of the College of Behavioral Sciences. In exchange for scholarship funds, Shenae was challenged to implement a community project that will continue to make a difference in the lives of others.

“I created Yellow Jacket (YJ) Friends to give BHSU students a service learning opportunity to work with adults with developmental disabilities within the Spearfish community. The program is growing and it will continue,” says Shenae, an exercise science major from Newcastle, Wyo.

Read more about Shenae.

Michael Hurst

BHSU graduating senior Michael Hurst has his pick of universities after being accepted into five chemistry Ph.D. programs. Michael says three years of hands-on experience working in a chemistry lab at BHSU was a nice boost to his resume.

“I’ve had many good opportunities at BHSU. Going into my Ph.D. with the experience of research I gained here will help in the future,” says Michael, a chemistry/biology double major.

Read more about Michael.

Shandell Clutter

Shandell Clutter will put her new degree from Black Hills State University to good use this month as the full-time, in-house graphic designer at the Buffalo Chip.

Shandell graduates from BHSU this weekend and says one of her favorite professors, Gina Gibson, helped her prepare for her new job. “Gina Gibson was my first design professor. She’s wacky and fun and kept pushing me to do better design work,” says Shandell. “I enjoy the challenge of coming up with new and better ideas for what I’m creating.”

Read more about Shandell.

Tell us what you are pursuing now.

Josie Burkinshaw

My future plans consist of working with the elderly by finding a career that aims to increase the quality of their daily lives. This includes creating outlets to decrease symptoms of loneliness, depression, increase family involvement, and provide a sense of purpose and value to who they are.

Emily Shelton

My future plans include moving to Chicago to pursue a Master of Divinity at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. I am hoping to be ordained in the United Methodist Church.

Ronalda Mowell

My future plans consist of accepting a teaching in Arizona. I am an elementary education major and have a passion for working with children. I can't wait to have my own classroom and teach our future.

Submit your future plans using the form below.