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 Black Hills State University student Kaitlin Schneider, psychology major from Sturgis, with Dr. Aris Karagiorgakis, Black Hills State University assistant professor of psychology, during the National Conference for Undergraduate Research in Lexington, Ky.

As a psychology major at Black Hills State University, Kaitlin Schneider devoted much of her time to research and other experiential learning projects – opportunities that helped her to apply her classroom learning to the process of discovery.

“I really have found a love for research,” Schneider said. “When things that you are supposed to do in a classroom for homework become your hobby I think you have to pursue it.”

Schneider, who started her collegiate career while still a senior at Sturgis Brown High School, has spent the last several years involved in a variety of research projects, one which awarded her the top undergraduate oral presentation at this year’s Black Hills Research Symposium (BHRS).

While her time as a BHSU undergraduate will come to an end tomorrow, Schneider’s career in academia is just beginning. Schneider is one of more than 420 graduation candidates for the University’s 167th commencement ceremony tomorrow at 10 a.m. in the Donald E. Young Sports and Fitness Center.

She will spend the summer applying to doctoral programs with a goal of becoming a college professor.

Schneider hopes to find a school where she can continue her research on stress reduction and how art, specifically drawing, affects people.  During her time as a BHSU undergraduate, Schneider has been involved with several research projects, two of which she recently presented at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research in Lexington, Ky.: “Distinguishing the Meditative Benefits of Drawing Within and Without Borders on Acute Stress Levels” and “Drawing for 15 Minutes Prior to a Police Lineup Identification Task May Enhance Eyewitness Accuracy.”

She received the top undergraduate oral presentation at the BHRS for her meditative benefits of drawing research, and used that same research as her capstone project for her University Honors Program. Schneider is also a student research assistant working with Dr. Mary Caton-Rosser, assistant professor of mass communication, and Dr. Bobbi Looney, assistant professor of management, on the benefits of integrating social media into the classroom.   

Schneider decided on her career path after taking a social psychology course with Dr. Aris Karagiorgakis, Black Hills State University assistant professor of psychology. “The material was so interesting and the lectures were so engaging,” she said. “I was emailing the professor questions whenever I thought about the material, and I would pop into his office and want to talk about it all the time. I realized how much I was enjoying it.”

It was also through Karagiorgakis that Schneider developed her passion for research and the life in academia.

Thanks to a grant, Schneider will also begin a new research project this summer where she will measure glucose levels after drawing and how it affects stress levels. In August, she will travel with Karagiorgakis to Washington, D.C. to present her research on eyewitness identification at the American Psychological Association convention.

Schneider said BHSU was a perfect fit for her.

 “I love BHSU. I think my future has been set up for success here. The experiential learning has been BHSU’s best asset for me as a student. You discover so much more than what you learn in the classroom.”