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Photography grad returns home for a job after stops in Peru, Iceland

Author: BHSU Communications/Wednesday, May 1, 2019/Categories: Events, Students, Students in the News, Academic Affairs, Alumni, Campus Currents, College of Liberal Arts, Faculty, 2019

Full-time jobs, internships, and advanced degrees. In this series, Black Hills State University will highlight the future plans of some of the University’s May 2019 graduates.

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.

Nearly 400 graduates will be recognized during the 177th BHSU Commencement Ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 4 at the Donald E. Young Sports and Fitness Center. The public is invited to join and celebrate the students’ achievements. Degrees to be awarded include 53 master’s degrees, 311 bachelor’s degrees, and 33 associate’s degrees. An honorary doctorate will be bestowed upon Major Dr. Brett Theeler, BHSU Class of 2001, deputy chief of the Department of Neurology at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.   
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