Senior Spanish major at Black Hills State University from Rapid City Abbigail (Abbi) Baker has quite the resume, and it’s only growing.
“I’m really glad that I came to Black Hills State University because of some of the crazy, unique experiences that I have had,” Abbi stated.
One of those experiences includes her internship with the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS). Not your typical internship, most of what Abbi has been doing revolves around a lot of virtual meetings and research.
The organization is based in New Jersey, and earlier this year in January, Abbi flew out for an extensive weekend internship training. Meeting with students from across the country, she is working towards starting a new organization on campus that will provide a way for students to hone their leadership skills.
As for the impact and benefit the internship has made for her, Abbi says, “I’ve learned a lot about leadership, time management, and taking initiative. Another major benefit are the networking opportunities the internship has provided.”
In addition to her internship, Abbi also plans to study abroad using funds from a scholarship she was recently awarded.
Upon doing research for study abroad, Abbi reached out to BHSU international admissions coordinator Kaitlin Palmer who directed her toward the Gilman Scholarship. Kaitlin’s guidance and a great deal of work and effort on the application resulted in Abbi being one of the recipients of the competitive scholarship.
“The people in the international office have always been extremely helpful with anything I need,” Abbi credits. “That’s really unique. In a lot of universities you can become lost in a sea of numbers, but here at BHSU, the faculty and staff really care about you and want you to succeed.”
Congressionally funded, the scholarship is named after the late congressman Benjamin A. Gilman from New York. Before he passed, he stated, “Study abroad is a special experience for every student who participates. Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but also adds an enriching social and cultural experience. It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community.”
The awarded money can be put toward program tuition, room and board, books, transportation, travel insurance, airfare, and passport or visa fees. Abbi says, “The plan right now is for me to travel to a city in Spain, Cadiz, along the southern coast in late spring or early summer of 2021.”
Living in a rural Midwest area of the country, Abbi has experienced first-hand the benefits of being bilingual. “I’ve had so many unique experiences – especially being in South Dakota – where I have gotten to interact with individuals who only speak Spanish, and I’ve seen the benefit of that open communication,” she smiles.
Abbi is looking forward to seeing where language will take her in the future, but she is still undecided as to what life will look like after graduation. Knowing only one thing for sure – her education isn’t stopping at an undergraduate degree.
In addition to Spanish, she is minoring in psychology and taking prerequisite courses for physical therapy. “I either want to get my master’s in education through BHSU or apply for a graduate program in physical therapy,” Abbi adds.
Abbi has always wanted to help others; she says, “One reason I am pursuing a degree in Spanish is so that I will be able to help a wider selection of people, in a variety of regions.”
Black Hills State University is a masters-level state university with more than 3,800 students. The campus leads the region in sustainability efforts and maintains top academic programs in business (AACSB Accredited), exercise science, natural sciences, social sciences, the arts, mass communication, health sciences and education. The University, founded in 1883, is located in the northern Black Hills, a region abundant with outdoor activity and culture. Spearfish, S.D., is recognized as one of the top 10 most livable small towns in the USA and has also been recognized nationally for outdoor recreational opportunities. A second location, BHSU-RC, was recently established in Rapid City, the state’s second-largest city. BHSU, a member of NCAA Division II athletics, offers 14 sports, and has a legacy of champion rodeo teams.