Congratulations 2018 Graduates!

CommencementBanner2018


Full-time jobs, travels across the world, and advanced degrees... Check out the future plans of some of our BHSU 2018 graduates!


Madison Jilek

Physical science and Chemistry major from Spearfish, SD

What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation, I’m going on a short trip with my family to Alaska. More professionally, I’m starting graduate school this fall at University of Colorado Boulder for their PhD program in physical chemistry.

What will you miss most about BHSU?
There’s a lot of things I’ll miss about BH, but I’d say the professors the most. The chemistry program especially is pretty close-knit, pretty small, so you get really close to your professors and they’re really great mentors for me.

What’s your favorite memory at BHSU?
I definitely think that starting research here was, in general, one of my favorite memories just because, it was super exciting. I started in high school and it changed my trajectory of what I wanted to do when I grew up. It’s just a fun and exciting time in my life.

How has BHSU prepared you for your future?
Well, BH has prepared me in a lot of ways, but I think that one skill in particular that I didn’t really have before coming to BH that I’ve learned and developed is being comfortable putting myself out of my comfort zone and talking to people—whether I knew them or not—just initiating conversation and feeling free to let myself out there a little more.

Who is your favorite professor?
I can’t just name one favorite! Definitely Dr. Briana Mount, assistant professor of physics, and Dr. Katrina Jensen, associate professor of chemistry, have both been great mentors the four years, plus, that I’ve been here. Dr. Mount I knew before coming to BHSU, she was the one I did research with in high school. Those two could not have been better mentor to me and really helped me along.


Sierra Concha

English major from Pine Ridge, SD

What are your plans after graduation?
I am already hired to be a kindergarten teacher on the Reservation. I’ll be teaching Lakota, I’m really excited about that. For the summer I’ll be in a Lakota language program so I can learn more about the language and be better prepared to teach the kindergarten.

What will you miss most about BHSU?
I love the community here – everyone is so kind and welcoming, especially the Native community. I immediately felt at home when I transferred here, thanks to the teachers as well.

What’s your favorite memory at BHSU?
I shadowed a teacher in Newell as part of the BHSU teaching program. That was the first time I got to really experience being in a classroom and seeing how a teacher interacts with kids. It was incredible. It made me really comfortable in my decision with what I want to do after graduation.

How has BHSU prepared you for your future?
Since the teachers are so invested in their students they have really helped me be better all-around as a student to be prepared and really think about my future. I’ve been able to really plan ahead because of them and their investment in me and other students.

Who is your favorite professor?
Dr. Courtney Huse-Wika, associate professor of English, was one of the first professors I had when transferring here. I loved how warm she was immediately and she encouraged me from the get-go about my writing and always had faith in me. She encouraged me to apply for the Honors Program. She’s an incredible teacher.


Gavin Brucklacher

Business administration major from Philip, SD

What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation, I will be at First National Bank in Philip where I will be an IT Specialist. Through the SD CEO office I got an internship in Philip. First National was very welcoming and accepting of me to have an internship there. I got to go through the processes with all the bankers there and at the end of it I got a successful 3 credit hours. In August when we were getting ready to go back to school for my senior year, the bank president asked me about my plans after graduation. He said he’d like to have me stick around and I said absolutely! June 4th is my first day.

What will you miss most about BHSU?
Black Hills State does a great job of keeping the class sizes small, the courses relevant and interesting. The class sizes in the business school are roughly 20-25 at the max. Even if you’re walking across campus you’ll know someone you’ve said hi to, had a class with, or had a group project with. I think that’s what I’ll miss – the small town feel in a bigger town.

What’s your favorite memory at BHSU?
My favorite memory is being involved on campus with other student-led organizations. I was Presidential Student Ambassadors President my junior year. That was very eye-opening for me – getting to work with President Jackson, the economics. I had him through Intermediate Micro, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and right now Public Finance. He’s been by far my favorite, he's very understanding of the material. He’ll walk into class with a sheet of paper and a marker and he won’t even look at the paper sometimes. He’ll give you all the information you need to be successful in the real world and not just economics what he teaches but in the banking industry and business industries. It’s amazing how much information he can give you and how much you can actually retain. I’m glad I came here. 


D'Aryn Lends His Horse

Chemistry major from Eagle Butte, SD

What are your plans after graduation?
I was recently accepted to pharmacy school in Denver at Regis University. I’ll be going there in the fall.


What will you miss most about BHSU?
What I’ll miss most about Black Hills State would probably be the opportunities. I’ve been able to do a lot of things while I was here. I traveled to Africa and the Philippines for service learning trips. I’ve worked with President Jackson, I’ve also worked with the Center for American Indian Studies, and be involved with many clubs. One of the clubs that I’m in I got to organize and host the Pow Wow that we do every year. Being close to my culture was really cool. 

What’s your favorite memory at BHSU?
My favorite memories of Black Hills State would be my international service learning trips. I didn’t know anyone in the classes. Getting to travel with strangers brought us all close together and we were a family when we came back. To experience different cultures really opened my eyes and I think made me a better person. To get to teach students that were similar to me in a way was a great overall experience.

How has BHSU prepared you for your future?
Black Hills State has prepared me both academically and personally because of all I got to do while in college. I took pretty much all the chemistry courses that were offered, I got to do research, I got to travel, so many different things that not only prepared me academically but how to be a good person overall and to get out there and actually be successful. I always wanted to be in the health professions. Growing up I had sick family members and I remember my grandma used to have diabetes. She used to let me give her insulin shots. I think it was when I realized it wasn’t the doctors that were giving my family these medications that helped them feel better it was the pharmacists – that’s when I chose pharmacy. I chose pharmacy before I chose chemistry, but everything I’ve done up to this point was to get me to pharmacy school which I actually got in to! 

Who is your favorite professor?
Dr. John Dixson, associate professor of chemistry. I’ve taken classes with him and I’m helping him with his research. He’s really let me know the inside scoop on things, gave me life advice and interview advice. I think he helped me get into pharmacy school with all the interview tips he’s given me. In his seminar of chemistry class we went over interviews. He gave us certain questions he was asked and would be repetitive in all different types of schools you’d be interviewed for. I’ve actually had a few of those questions in my interviews for pharmacy school so I was overly prepared which was nice.


Walter Bordewyk

Outdoor education  major from Fort Collins, CO

What are your plans after graduation?
This summer I’m going to east Asia with Campus Ventures for a couple of months.

What will you miss most about BHSU?
The community. Walking across campus and seeing multiple people you know all the time. That sense of belonging.

What’s your favorite memory at BHSU?
My favorite memory at Black Hills State was last December for my Outdoor Skills class. We went on a winter camping trip. We had all gotten to know each other pretty well in the class through the course of the semester and got to finish out the semester by going up into the Hills. We snowshoed in and built snow qunizhees. We slept in the snow and made our own food. It was really cold and definitely a character-building experience.

How has BHSU prepared you for your future?
It’s really given me a good base for working through things and overcoming obstacles. Learning about myself and how I best can work, get tasks done. Having that knowledge and background going into a job is going to be really beneficial.

Who is your favorite professor?
Dr. Abigail Domagall, associate professor of geology. She’s super fun to talk to and she loves what she does. All her classes have been a blast.


Jose Morales

Mass communication major from San Juan, Puerto Rico

What are your plans after graduation?
One of my dreams is to start my own TV station, so I’m going to work for that. A radio station too, but step-by-step, right?

Why are you passionate about mass communication?
When I was 21 years old, I joined Puerto Rico state police force and served for 10 years. I started creating TV programming, combining criminal justice with my passion for documentaries. My first show was called 1050 TV. I joined the Emergency Medical responders and state police to document their daily encounters in Puerto Rico.

Why did you choose to attend BHSU-Rapid City?
Three years ago my family and I decided to move to the continental U.S. I knew I wanted to work in TV production and started working at KOTA TV. I heard about a job opening in the news department but needed a bachelor’s degree in mass communications. I made the search in the Rapid City area for where they had a mass communications program – I decided to come to Black Hills State University.

Tell me about the experience you gained in your field at BHSU?
I directed the news at the BHSU campus TV station KBHU in 2018 and created a Puerto Rican cuisine cooking show. I worked with radio podcasting and had stories and photos published in the Jacket Journal and at BHSUmedia.com.

What was the Student Media Council you worked to create?
In Dr. Mary Caton-Rosser’s Integrated News Lab II, I worked to develop a new Student Media Council on campus. Media is important to helping a community stay open and connected.

What will you miss most about BHSU?
When I started I didn’t speak very much English. My professors took it step-by-step, and they helped me a lot. And I think that’s what I’ve learned here—understanding what another person needs and what they have or do not have. That’s communication between people—that’s what I love.

CommencementBanner2018

2018 Grads
Tell us what you are pursuing now!


What's next for the Class of 2018?


Allison Deal

I will be teaching Junior High/High School math at the Selby Area School in Selby, SD for the upcoming school year. This summer I will be working at a Bible camp for kids age 8-18.

Harley Geiger

I am hoping to get a special education teaching position in Casper, WY. I also plan on starting grad school in July of 2018! Making for a busy new school year!

Fehrin Ward

I have accepted a Chemistry teaching job at Rapid City Central High School starting this fall. I am excited to share my love for Chemistry with high school students in the area! I will also be coaching volleyball at the freshman/sophomore level where I can hopefully work with some prospective yellow jackets!! 🐝 My experience at BHSU in academics and athletics has me feeling as prepared and excited as I can be for this major milestone in my life. Thanks BHSU!

Kayla McCaskell

I have accepted a position at Rapid City Central High School. I will be teaching freshman Physical Science starting in the Fall. I'm extremely excited for this opportunity. Thank you, BH, for the inspiring professors and for being my home for the past couple of years!

Karli Kilby

This summer I will be working as a Residential Worker at the Canyon Hills Center. Then in the fall I will be furthering my education at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas as I work towards a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.