Student Support Services at BHSU announces Students of the Month

Black Hills State University students are being recognized for their accomplishments by TRiO Student Support Services (SSS).

The 2016-2017 SSS Students of the Month at BHSU are:

September: Michael Cook, business administration - tourism and hospitality management major from Gillette, Wyo.

Michael Cook was nominated by Peggy Madrid, SSS assistant director and retention advisor, who emphasized Michael's "presence" in the SSS program. Michael's dream job is to be the CEO of a large hotel or a large sporting goods store. To achieve his dream, Michael is pursuing business administration major with an emphasis in tourism and hospitality management. Peggy noted that Michael uses the SSS study area all the time. "When other students see this, they realize that they should take advantage of this space and these services as well," Peggy said.

October: Kailey Byrne, sociology and human services major from Colorado Springs, Colo.

Kailey Byrne was nominated by SSS advisor Nora Leinen who stated that Kailey has grown exponentially as a student due to her hard work and dedication. Nora said, "Kailey always knows when to ask for help and where to look for resources. She is always looking to share her knowledge and makes others feel welcome and accepted." Nora said Kailey practiced this every day whether it is chatting with other students in SSS, leading a study group for her peers, or being active in the TRiO student organization.

November: Brooke Richards, special education major from Fairview, Mont.

Brooke Richards said that she was sold on the Student Support Services (SSS) program when she saw a video made by former students and knew the program was right for her. Brooke meets regularly with the SSS English Specialist Tom Stulken sometimes spending several hours a day working on her papers. She is not afraid to ask questions and utilize the resources at her disposal. Susan Hupp, Brooke's SSS advisor, is excited to work with her because Brooke is "very good at identifying pitfalls and brainstorming solutions. She is on a mission and we are so happy to have her in SSS!!"

December: Matthew Brenner, business administration - economics and finance major from Watertown

Matthew Brenner applied to the Student Support Services (SSS) program because he is a first-generation college student. Debbie Liddick, SSS Math Specialist, said that Matt is always the first student to start on his assignments and is very dedicated to completing his assignments early with a 100 percent every time. She said, "Matt is curious, helpful, kind, friendly, responsible, thoughtful, hardworking, dependable, persistent . . . and I am just getting started!" Matthew has three years of work experience at a bank.  As a result, he knows that he likes economics and finance and chose that as the emphasis for his Business Administration major.

January: Elijah Coleman, exercise science major from Aurora, Colo.

Elijah Coleman was nominated by Debbie Liddick, SSS math specialist, for recognition because of his exceptional efforts in his college algebra course and balancing that with the demands of being a student athlete. Elijah is an exercise science major because of his desire to work with athletes and help them recover from injuries. He utilizes the SSS math lab for tutoring on a daily basis and utilizes the English specialist, as well.   

February: Garrett Gronlund, physical education and special education major from Winner

Garrett Gonlund was nominated by Susan Hupp, student support services director, as a Student of the Month. Hupp said Garrett has made significant growth between his first and third years at BHSU. Garrett saw that he wasn't performing at the level at which he wanted his first year. He said organization and staying on task is what helped him achieve the level of success that he wanted. Garrett decided to double-major in physical education and special education due to his passion for sports and his work with Special Olympics.  

March: Julia Gibson, general studies major from Spearfish

Julia Gibson was nominated by her SSS advisor, Peggy Madrid.  Peggy stated that Julia sees everything as a learning opportunity and sees the value of education as more than just a grade. As a non-traditional student, it has been important for Julia to have the "whole college experience," which has included joining clubs, organizations, and attending a leadership retreat. Julia brings her skills in time management, planning and organizing, and her positive attitude to everything that she does.

April: Nic Gainey, education major from Spearfish

Nic Gainey was nominated by Debbie Liddick, SSS math specialist, who noted that Nic has the perfect balance of creativity, dedication, and a caring attitude to be an effective art teacher. A Spearfish native, Nic said he has loved art since he was little and he wants to teach it to inspire others. Nic said he applied to the Student Support Services program because, "I knew I needed some help with classes through college, so I joined right away.  It is definitely one of the best choices I have made for college."  He added that he values how much every teacher he works with helps him to achieve his goals.  

For more information on the Student Support Services program at BHSU, contact Susan Hupp, director of SSS, at 605-642-6824 or

Student Support Services is one of seven federal TRiO programs, funded by the U.S. Department of Education.  Services provided at BHSU as part of SSS program include tutoring as well as academic, career, personal, and financial advisement.

To be considered for the SSS program, students must either be a first-generation college student (neither parent has earned a bachelor's degree) meet income eligibility criteria or have a documented disability.

Students of the Month are selected based on their commitment and attitude with academics and the SSS program.