Anything is possible for BHSU graduates

Author: BHSU Communications/Wednesday, May 6, 2015/Categories: 2015








           Mary Mitchell, elementary education major from Eagle Butte, will graduate from BHSU this weekend and begin work in her hometown as a junior first grade teacher.






           Cody Drolc, political science major from Spearfish, received a full funding offer to pursue his doctorate at the University of Missouri. Cody will graduate from BHSU this weekend.






           Cassie Smith, exercise science major from Colorado Springs, Colo., will graduate from BHSU this weekend and will begin studies to obtain her doctor of physical therapy degree at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash.



Black Hills State University students graduating Saturday, May 9 prove that anything is possible as they hang up their caps and gowns to begin jobs and pursue graduate degrees.

Mary Mitchell, elementary education major from Eagle Butte, will return to her hometown to begin her professional teaching career this fall.  

"I just love working with kids. I really want to make a difference in these kids&rsquo lives," said Mary. "I want them to succeed academically, but be able to know they are a good person. Students need to feel important and know they are special."

Mary&rsquos experience on campus has been a positive one, an experience she shared with other students as a mentor in the Center for American Indian Studies Bridge Program.

"I was one of the first to attend college among my peers," said Mary. "I really love and believe in the Bridge Program and as a mentor I am able to give what I know to everyone else that&rsquos new to BHSU."

Cody Drolc, political science major from Spearfish, received a full funding offer from the University of Missouri which covers tuition and includes a stipend for living expenses while he earns his Ph.D. His goal is to become a college professor and political science researcher.

"I want to be an informed citizen I want to critique and look into the issues affecting our communities," said Cody. "Being a professor would be the best job because you get to interact with students and share knowledge about global affairs."

At BHSU, Cody was involved in the University Honors Program and helped to establish the university&rsquos first honor society in political science. Cody says he witnessed many examples of the type of professor he&rsquod like to be in the future, professors that are personable and care about the success of their students.

"I knew I wanted to be successful someday so working with people who care about my success made BHSU the perfect fit," said Cody.

Cassie Smith, exercise science major from Colorado Springs, Colo., will enroll at University of Puget Sound to pursue her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. Cassie played softball for the BHSU Yellow Jackets and found several connections between her sport on the field and her science in the classroom.

"The lab experiences and time management skills I practiced at BHSU prepared me for graduate school," said Cassie.

Cassie completed 400 hours of physical therapy observation in Spearfish and Colorado Springs to prepare for a career meaningful to herself and her family.

"My dad is a paraplegic so I&rsquove seen how physical therapy can help others overcome obstacles," said Cassie. "I want to help my patients achieve their goals. Helping them is mine."

More examples of BHSU graduates proving anything is possible include:

&middot         Becca Ellis, professional accountancy and business administration major from Rock

Rapids, Iowa, earned a position as staff tax accountant at Ketel Thorstenson in Rapid City. Ellis will also begin the process of earning her CPA.

&middot         Ethan Engel, art major from Winner, who was selected to showcase his series "Transcendence: Journey of Autism" for the VSA Emerging Young Artists Program, a national exhibit which kicked off at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. The series of artwork tells Ethan&rsquos story and struggles of having autism using flesh-colored canvas and burnt words from his personal journey.

&middot         Jenna Kessler, art major from Rapid City, whose education at BHSU gave her the tools and skills she needed to work on a body casting project that Kessler says will redefine the standards of beauty. Kessler will build her portfolio this summer and create a body of work for Sculpture in the Hills before applying to international graduate schools.

&middot         Kristin Prescott, human services and sociology major from Colgate, Wis., begins employment as a Family Services Specialist with Child Protection Services in Rapid City. Prescott completed an internship with CPS, an experience which sparked her interest in serving the families of the Black Hills region.

&middot         Jon Adams, English education major from Cheyenne, Wyo., will attend graduate school at Virginia Tech studying rhetoric and writing. Jon will teach composition at Virginia Tech while he earns his advanced degree.

&middot         Paige Smith, outdoor education major from Austin, Minn., will immediately begin a summer internship with Reptile Gardens, the largest reptile zoo in the world, handling the slithering reptiles and educating the public about the variety of species at the summer tourist attraction.

&middot         Tayler Ripley, biology and chemistry major from Blunt, will work for South Dakota Game, Fish &amp Parks before beginning a graduate program in fisheries science this fall. Ripley says his education at BHSU shaped his professional goals. "I came to BHSU with an idea and I&rsquom leaving with a career," said Ripley.

For more information about these graduates or BHSU&rsquos 169th Commencement Ceremony, visit

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