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Veterans honored during upcoming Geek Speak at BHSU

Author: BHSU Communications/Monday, October 22, 2018/Categories: Events, Students, Community, Staff, Veterans Affairs

The Veterans' Legacy Program is featured this week at the weekly Geek Speak lecture series sponsored by the Black Hills State University Honors Program. Kelly Kirk, instructor of history, is excited to share progress on the campus-wide effort to share the stories and lives of those buried at national cemeteries around the Black Hills. The Geek Speak is Thursday, Oct. 25 at 4 p.m. in Jonas Hall Room 110. The Geek Speak lecture series is free and open to the public.

The Veterans' Legacy Program, made possible through a contract with the National Cemetery Administration, a division of the Department of Veterans Affairs, is a project that has involved BHSU students and faculty from across the disciplines bringing to life the stories of the veterans interred at national cemeteries, honoring them and creating a conversation and greater education on the nation’s heroes.

Lesson plans, biographies, walking tours, informational videos, and more have woven a web between community members willing to share the stories of their family members interred at five cemeteries around the Black Hills area and students who are ecstatic to illuminate many of these stories that would have never been shared.

Kirk, a member of the leadership team for the Veterans' Legacy Program, says, “This project is unique in its interplay between university and community. It allows us, as faculty and students, to go into the community and learn the stories of those who have called the Black Hills home, who have helped make these communities what they are today.”

Providing a space and place for families to have their history written and preserved for the future, students are also helping others see veterans’ cemeteries as more than a final resting place, but as the repositories of history they are, filled with stories, Kirk says.

The biographies, which are publically available, hope to lend greater personal insight into major historical events and a better sense of local/regional history, as community members share very personal stories, pictures, and other mementos with the students entrusted to write their family’s stories as accurately as possible.

Students, majoring in disciplines ranging from American Indian studies, English, history, education, graphic design, and marketing, have all played a role in this program, offering their time and talent to strengthen this program and give those interred the recognition they deserve.

The Oct. 25 Geek Speak is an opportunity for community members and students to see and hear the progress that has been made on the program. Biographies and lesson plans can also be accessed using the website, which hosts major components of the program and offers a place for those interested in sharing their family member’s story to reach out.
“The project challenges us to see history, and historical spaces, differently. We begin to see how personal history is, just how many lives are affected by the decisions of others, and how interconnected the lives of strangers can become. We are incredibly humbled by the amount of families who have entrusted their story, their family history, to us. We hope that we can honor the veterans, these families, their stories, and their sacrifice through our project,” Kirk said.
About the Veterans' Legacy Program:
The Veterans' Legacy Program, an interdisciplinary project on the Black Hills State University campus made possible through a contract with the National Cemetery Administration, a division of the Department of Veterans Affairs, honors veterans who have been interred at National cemeteries in the Black Hills. By generating and providing biographies, lesson plans, and self-guided walking tours of five national cemeteries around the Black Hills area, students and the community work to share the stories of our nation’s heroes.
About BHSU Geek Speak:
The Geek Speak lecture series, sponsored by the BHSU Honors program, features academic discussion and topics not normally discussed in the traditional classroom. The goal of the weekly lectures is to expose students and the community to diversity within the disciplines. Some Geek Speaks are also presented at the Jacket Zone store located on Main Street in downtown Spearfish. All lectures are free and open to the public.
Upcoming lectures include:
  • Nov. 1: Dr. Andrey Reznikov, professor of English: “The role of Bible Translations in Establishing the English Language”
  • Nov. 8: Aaron Bauerly, system librarian: “You are the Hero: Interaction with Mythic Archetypes Through Games”
  • Nov. 15: Du-Lu Hsiao, assistant professor of Spanish: “How to be Spanish”
  • Nov. 29 – Dec. 6:  University Honors Capstone Defenses
  • Jan. 10: Desy Schoenewies, associate professor of art: “Drawings from China: Experiences from the BHSU/Baoding University Partnership BHSU Artists at Baoding University”
  • Jan. 17: Tami Haaland, professor of English at Montana State University Billings: A Poetry Reading
  • Jan. 24: Tracy Hunt and Chelsey Groseclose, counselors: “The Matrix Within: from Insomnia to Lucidity, the Powers of Sleep and Dreaming”
  • Jan. 31: Instructors Altman Studeny, Carrie Gray-Wood, Tim Steckline: “Twisted Fibers: Felt as Art, Technique, and Social Critique”
  • Feb. 7: Dr. David Cremean, professor of English:  “Bruce Springsteen as Storyteller”
  • Feb. 14: Jeffrey Winter, instructor of mathematics: “Secrets and Unconventional Uses of Microsoft Office”
  • Feb. 21: Dr. Holly Downing, professor of biology: “Why Our Mascot is Not a Bee—The Frustrations of a BHSU Entomologist”
  • Feb. 28: Dr. Max Marc, professor of management information systems: “Artificial Intelligence vs. Humans: Thought Experiments on the End-Game”
  • March 14: Dr. Jarrett Moore, assistant professor of research and assessment: “Manufacturing (Real)ity”
  • March 21: Dr. Chris Hahn, assistant professor of music: “We’re All Musicians: Exploring the Brain-Music Relationship”
  • March 28: BHSU Research Symposium Keynote Speaker, Meier Hall
  • April 4: Petrika Peters, sustainability coordinator at BHSU: “Global Dumping: What Happens to Your Electronic Waste?”
  • April 11: Christopher Landauer and Chris Fuchs: "Wizard, Fighter, Rouge RPG Design: Community Building Through Gaming"
  • April 25: Courtney Huse Wika, associate professor of English: “A Spontaneous Overflow of Powerful Feelings: A (Very Brief) Poetry Writing Workshop”
To read short descriptions of each lecture topic, visit
For more information, contact Dr. Courtney Huse-Wika, associate professor of English, at 605-642-6918 or email

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It is with a troubled heart that we write this note of concern and support for the Black community. The events over the last few weeks and following the tragic senseless deaths of African Americans in Georgia, Kentucky, and Minnesota have yet again brought racial injustices to the forefront.