Class of 2023 Commencement Banner



Spring Commencement is Saturday, at 10 a.m. in the Donald E. Young Sports and Fitness Center. All friends and family of our Fall 2023 graduates are encouraged to attend. 


Commencement Transcript
Steve Meeker, Vice President for University Advancement
Good morning, I'm Steve Meeker, Vice President for university advancement. It is my pleasure to welcome you to the 186th Commencement Ceremony at Black Hills State University. Please rise for the presentation of colors by the BHSU ROTC Color Guard.
[Presentation of the colors]
Today's Ceremony is led by our student senate president, Ms. Isabella Rowe. Joining her are participants in today's commencement ceremony and platform party guests, including president Laurie Nichols, and regent James Lochner. Also represented are members of the Black Hills State University Administration, the Council of Deans, and Faculty Senate. Members of the esteemed faculty of Black Hill State University representing the college of business and natural sciences, the college of education and behavioral sciences, and the college of liberal arts, led by Dr. Charlie Lamb, professor of biology and chief research officer. And now, it is my pleasure to present the graduates from the class of 2023, led by Dr. Jane Klug, dean of students. Please remain standing for the national anthem, sung by Dr. Jonathan Nero, professor of music. We remind all in attendance that the proper respect is to face the flag and stand at attention with your right hand over your heart. Men should remove their hat or cap. Veterans and active duty military not in uniform may also salute the flag. And now, ladies and gentlemen, our national anthem.
[Singing of the national anthem]
Please be seated. And now, ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce the president of Black Hills State University, Dr. Laurie Nichols.
Laurie Nichols, President of BHSU
Good morning, and welcome to our winter commencement. It is my honor to introduce the members of the platform party. I would ask the platform party to stand for a moment as I call your name. And audience, would you please hold your applause to the end. Joining us today is Regent James Lochner. He is our ceremonial representative representing the South Dakota Board of Regents. Dr. Jon Kilpinen serves as Provost and vice President for Academic Affairs. Dr. Amy Fuqua is Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Graduate Studies. Dr. Cynthia Anderson is Dean of the College of Business and Natural Sciences. Ms. Kathy Johnson is Vice President for Finance and Administration. Dr. Jared Moore is our Faculty Senate President. Miss Isabella Rowe serves as our Student Senate President. Ms. April Meeker is our Registrar, and Mr. Steve Meeker is Vice President for University Advancement. We also have with us today Ms. Jodi Garcia, who is the Black Hills State University Alumni Association President. Will you help me in welcoming our stage party today?
Graduates, now is an appropriate time to recognize a group who have been your partners through this journey. They have provided mentorship, encouragement, and possibly some prodding as you completed your coursework. So I'm gonna first of all ask the faculty if you would stand and actually turn around and face the graduates today. Faculty, if you would stand and turn? And then, graduates, would you stand? And so, graduates, stand. And would you help me in thanking these faculty who have been so instrumental in your education at Black Hills State University?
Thank you, you may be seated. Congratulations, graduate! Your day has arrived. Today, you become a college graduate where you join about one third of all adults in the United States who hold a bachelor's degree or more. Your degree will open doors to opportunities that you cant even imagine today. It certainly did for me. I am so excited for your future and all the possibilities that you will realize. Becoming a college graduate is a distinction in our society that sets you apart from many others. and that distinction comes because our society values education. Evidence suggests that college graduates are not only highly employable, but they also enrich the civic and economic life of their communities as they volunteer, provide community leadership, and make philanthropic contributions. As Nelson Mandela said, "Education is the most powerful tool which you can use to change the world." Today, with your degree in hand, your ability to make our world a better place becomes even greater. As hard as you have worked on earning this degree, we all know you didn't get there alone. Your family has provided a great source of support to you through these college years, and in a reciprocal fashion, your achievement has provided inspiration and hope to your family. Today, they are here to celebrate with you. And I know, as you walk across this stage in a few minutes, they will be bursting with pride. They love you. You matter to them. So graduates, I'm gonna ask if you could stand one more time for me, and if you would look around the room and see if you can find your family and loved ones. And then, will you help me in thanking your family for the support they have provided to you? Graduates, let's thank your family!
Thank you, graduates. You may be seated. And families, thank you so much for being here today as well. For many of our graduates, and for me personally, today is bittersweet, as today's graduation signifies an end to our time at Black Hills State University. I hope your experience has been like mine: fulfilling, enjoyable, memorable, and lifechanging. Like you, I leave here a different person, one who has learned a great deal, made some mistakes, but brushed off and carried on, and realized that in life it is not material things that makes one happy. It is the people and the relationships that one develops along the way. I hope, graduates, that you have made connections with faculty and staff that will benefit you for years to come. And I hope you have made your very best friends here. Friends that you will keep your whole life. I know I have, and I will value those experiences and people forever. Black Hills State University is a very special place. I thank each of you for being part of it. While you will scatter far, I hope you will also stay connected to Black Hills State, and to each other. Congratulations, graduates, we're so proud of you. We wish you all the best in the world. It is now my pleasure to ask our student senate president, Ms. Isabella Rowe, to come forward to deliver the charge to the graduates.
Isabella Rowe, Student Senate President
Hi friends! I'm so happy to see all your faces here today. You know, the pressure a graduation speech has on a person really has you questioning if you're even cut out to stand up in front of your peers and give them any life advice. I've rewritten these words a dozen times, and my chemistry notebook is finally running out of paper. I made a phone call to one of my best friends asking what I should include for you guys today. We started to talk about purpose and who and what the purpose is for. We caught up in the why and not really the how. How do we start this new life? Where do we go from here? Well, I've got good news: I have no idea. But that's the exciting part. I was lucky enough to hop on a plane to London a few weeks ago, and as God has answered my silent prayers in my head, I began reading the carpet in my London hotel room. My speech today will contain the best words of wisdom from a poem written at my feet. The text reads: "This is your life. Do what you love, and do it often. If you don't like something, change it. If you don't like your job, quit. If you don't have enough time, stop watching TV. If you're looking for the love of your life, stop. They will be waiting for you. Start doing things you love. Stop overanalyzing. Life is simple. All emotions are beautiful. When you eat, appreciate every last bite. Open your mind, arms, and heart to new things and people. We are united in our differences. Ask the next person you see what their passion is, and share your inspiring dream with them. Travel often. Getting lost will help you find yourself. Some opportunities only come once. Seize them. Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them, so go out, and start creating." Now this is probably a book quote, but I'm gonna credit the carpets since that's where I discovered it. I want you to really consider these words today. You are the creator of your life. If you want to move to a new state, do it. Your new degree you possess will get you there. You are educated, you are powerful, and you are capable of achieving your wildest dreams. If change scares you, good. Fear is healthy. It means you're getting out of your comfort zone, where you have been living. Life is short, and settling will never fulfill you in this lifetime. Hug your parents, call your siblings, visit your grandparents. It's their first time living, too. We are lucky to wake up every day, and choose what were going to eat, and the people we get to talk to. Get outside more often, live like a little kid. We always used to say, "Oh, when I get older I'm gonna do this." Start to do those things. Make your life 100 percent your responsibility. Don't blame your parents, your partner, your circumstances, or anyone else for your misery. If you don't quit, you might make it, and if you quit, you definitely won't. The saddest thing in life is wasted talent, and all of you in front of me today are the future. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Trust that your feet will carry to wherever you're going. Your body is where your soul lives, treat it well by eating nourishing foods, and drinking water. Your 50-year-old self will thank you for wearing sunscreen and going to bed before 10 PM. Laugh more, listen to new music, and try new foods. I promise that you will love life again when you start living it for you. I wanted to quickly thank Dr. Nichols for guiding us these last five years. It's been a pleasure being under your leadership and I wish you well in the years to come. So, as you walk across this stage today, imagine yourself at kindergarten graduation. They would be amazed at the person you are today. Because you are what you have decided to become, so be proud. Graduating class of 2023, here's the rest of your life, congratulations.
Laurie Nichols, President of BHSU
Thank you so much, Isabella. Wonderful words. Now here to bring you greetings from the Faculty is our faculty Senate president, Dr. Jared Moore.
Dr. Jared Moore
Good morning. I am happy to be here. I was glad to take my hat off, but now I notice how gray my hair is so I might should have put it back on. But anyway, thanks for having me, I know you didn't get to decide, but I do want to take a second to acknowledge Susie Dana. She was the recipient of the Distinguished Faculty Award for 2023, and she's an excellent faculty member, excellent colleague, so I wanted to take just a second to acknowledge her as well. And as a representative faculty senate, I did want to just take one second and thank president Nichols for her service here. I found out the other day, her first day on campus she met with faculty senate leadership team, and I think that's continued over the last 5 or 6 years. She's done a really nice job of including us in shared governance and set a standard that I hope will be followed, so we wish you well President Nichols, and thank you. So, graduates, I was asked to talk to you a few minutes about how you got here, and where you're going. So I think president Nichols did a nice job of starting off- talking about your hard work, your perseverance, acknowledging your friends and families and loved ones. I wanted to take it just one step further, to think about the people who you don't see on a daily basis, but are are schools, at businesses, at organizations that are there to support you. Think about the people who were here about 3 o'clock this morning, putting the stage together, putting out the chairs. I think back through all the years I've been in schools. I've been there since about 1999 is when I started teaching. There's all kinds of people who were there that you might not know, but they're all there to support you. And so, I think about the front office people. For me, it was Ms. Cheek when I was in schools. She knew every student. She knew when you got there, when you left. She knew your parents. She was the positive one, except when you did something she didn't like, and she kind of gave you the half headshake, and you knew its time to reevaluate. If you made Ms. Cheek mad, that wasn't good. But she was your biggest supporter, I think about other people too. For me, there's another one, Diane Laboure, she ran our lunchroom. She was the exact opposite. She's gonna read you the Riot Act. If you did anything that you weren't supposed to, she's on you. But, when there was extra food, it got to the people who needed it. Nobody ever left there hungry. And so these are some of the people that you'll see in your life that you don't know yet, you'll see in your future. And I want you to keep those folks in mind as you think about how it is that we all got to where we are, by the support of a whole bunch of other people. So that's I think how we got here. Where you're going, same as Bella, I don't know. I don't know. I'm not good at predicting, there was a time when I thought Steph Curry was too small to be in the NBA, and uhm he's one of the best players in the history of the NBA, so I can't predict and I wouldn't anyway. But I sit here at a lot of graduations, and we think about what we ask you to do, do great things, make a difference, and all that kind of stuff. We do want you to do those things. The questions is, how? How, on a daily basis, how do we get to those big things, and if you look throughout time, a lot of its just time and opportunity, right place right time. So, I think there are a few things we can think about on an individual basis as we kind of look inward. We start with what's important to us. Its not going to be the same for everyone, but what's important to you? What do you thinks important? Because that will help guide a lot of your decisions as you move forward. The second thing is think about our resources. We have, you know, course material resources that are necessary for survival. But we have time and energy. That's the only thing that we can really, really control on a daily basis. So instead of thinking about how we spend our time, start thinking about how do we invest our time. Where do we invest our time, where do we invest our energy? Is it with people, is it with things? And I think over time you'll figure out that those investments in people, energy that we direct towards bettering other people, will fulfill us long term. Because we do want you to go get jobs and be successful, but we want you to be happy, satisfied, fulfilled. All those things that sometimes don't get mentioned quite as much. But the last thing I want to share with you, I think is that, you have agency. You get to decide. Don't let other people define you. Don't let other people tell you where to invest your time and energy. You get to decide those things. Like Bella said, If you don't like the direction you're going, change it, right? So, as we go through the next couple of days, and as you're considering your career path, keep those things mind, invest your time and energy in things that fulfill you and satisfy you. And finally, graduates, you're the best of all of us. We've poured ourselves into you, and you're loved here, you're cared for here. So anytime you want to, please come back. Call, email, were here all the time. Good luck to you and congratulations.
Laurie Nichols, President of BHSU
Thank you, Dr. Moore. We are privileged to have Regent James Lochner who will bring you greetings from the South Dakota Board of Regents.
Regent James Lochner
Thank you, President Nichols. I'm delighted to be greeting you on behalf of the South Dakota Board of Regents. We joins your families and friends today in congratulating you and sharing in your excitement and satisfaction. The Board knows you have worked very hard to attain this goal, and for this you are to be warmly commended. Please accept our most sincere wishes for a wonderful future of personal and professional success. Thank you, and good luck. I also want to say a thank you and good luck to your wonderful president of Black Hills State University. She is here today ready to embark on her new journey. As I was talking to her, I said, "You get to enter like I did nine years ago into phase three of your life." And that phase three is a fun life. We are grateful for the years of dedicated service to higher education in South Dakota, and we wish President Nichols all the best. And now under the laws of the state of South Dakota, as a representative of the South Dakota Board of Regents, for the final time, I hereby delegate to President Laurie Nichols the authority to confer the various degrees at this commencement ceremony.
Laurie Nichols, President of BHSU:
Thank you so much, regent Lochner. I am pleased to introduce the Black Hills State University Commencement Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. David Berberick.
Today's number was conducted by Dr. Jonathan Nero. Thank you so much, Dr. Nero, Dr. Berberick, and members of the ensemble. Black Hills State University has a long history of supporting our military. Before continuing with our program, we would like to recognize all veterans, active service members, and their spouses for their service to our nation. So I'm going to ask if you are a veteran or an active military, if you're a spouse of one, would you please stand so we can thank you for your service?
Thank you for being here and again, thank you for your service. Graduates, we are at the moment for which you have been preparing for the last several years. Before you come forward to receive your diploma, I would like to take a moment to recognize those who are first generation college graduates. I would actually extend this to our graduates and to members of our audience as well. If you are the first in your family to graduate from college, would you stand up so we can give you a special recognition today? First generation college graduates, please stand.
A special congratulations to you. A photographer from the grad team will be taking pictures today, which will be available for purchase one week following the ceremony. The website address is on the inside cover of your commencement program. Family and friends of the graduates, as a courtesy to all of our students who are graduating as well as people who are sitting in the audience, would you please remain seated until the conclusion of the ceremony? It is now my pleasure to present Dr. Cynthia Anderson, Dean of the College of Business and Natural Sciences.
[Class of 2023 Receives their Diplomas]
Laurie Nichols, President of BHSU
Academic tradition such as the symbolism of the tassel are steeped in history. Moving the tassel to the left after graduating is symbolic of moving from college to another stage in your life. It is my privilege to ask you now to move your tassel from right to left. Congratulations, graduates.
Here to bring you greetings from the Alumni Association is Miss Jodi Garcia. She serves as the Alumni Association President.
Jodi Garcia, Alumni Association President
Good morning graduates, friends, and family. As president of Black Hills State Alumni Association, I am excited to welcome this graduating class to our Alumni Family. You are joining an elite group of individuals that include successful business owners, thriving entrepreneurs, sought upon industry leaders. Luckily for you, as a graduate of the university, you automatically become a member of the Alumni Association. You don't need to pass a test or complete an application. A friend of mine once asked me what my word was for the new year, rather than my New Year's resolution. After a little thought, I told her my word was "intentional." I made the decision to be intentional then, in all aspects of my life. My faith, my family, my work, and my activities. The foundation for a fulfilling and successful career was built the moment you set foot on campus. I challenge you as you leave here today to take your next steps with intention. Whatever your plan, whether you intend to start a new job, or your own business, or continue your education, do it with intention. Now I ask for your help. The success and future of this amazing University relies on our Alumni, our community, and our donors. You can help make BH successful by recommending prospective students, attending one of our many alumni events, and by donating to the university when you can. I can promise you will benefit from staying connected to your fellow graduates and Alma Mater. I hope the next chapter of your life is written with intention and exceeds your expectations. On behalf of the Black Hills State Alumni Board, congratulations class of 2023 on your great achievement. And congratulations, president Nichols, on your retirement. We wish you well.
Laurie Nichols, President of BHSU
Well thank you so much, Jodi. We will conclude todays ceremony with the singing of our Alma Mater. The recessional will follow immediately after. Please remain in the bleachers until the graduates and the faculty have exited. Now I would ask everyone if they would stand and join us in singing our Alma Mater, which is printed in the back of your program.
[Singing of the Alma Mater]
Congratulations, graduates. Enjoy the rest of your day. Graduates, faculty, and platform party, we will begin the recessional.
[Music as all exit]


Commencement photos will be available at noon on Tuesday, .



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