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News Release

Black Hills State University

Name, major, and hometown?

Baylee LaCompte, Išnála Nážiŋ Wi (Stands Alone Woman), from Standing Rock Nation, McLaughlin, South Dakota. I’m double majoring in American Indian Studies and Human Services.

What were you involved with on campus?

Lakota Omniciye and the Thompson Diversion Program as a jury member – that was a great experience because I plan to be a lawyer. I also worked in the Mail Room on campus.

Who is your favorite professor at BHSU?

I learned a lot about my culture and my language from Jace DeCory and from the sacred He Sapa, the homeland of the Lakota Nation and other nations as well. Rosie Sprague is my advisor and is from the same reservation as I am. That connection has made me feel at home.

Tell me about your plans after graduation.

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I plan to attend Arizona State in Tempe where I got accepted into my master’s program for American Indian Studies/Indigenous Rights and Social Justice. I was talking with Dr. Urla Marcus and she helped me look at different programs. The emphasis in justice through my Human Services major and the government and contemporary issues courses I took through American Indian Studies at BHSU, that’s what made me passionate about this field.

What will you miss about Black Hills State?

The scenery, the fresh air, and the connection to the land. I’ll miss being able to go hiking whenever I want to like I can now in the Black Hills.

What’s your favorite memory at Black Hills State?

Making many pieces of fry bread with my student organization Lakota Omniciye for our Indian Taco Sale to raise funds for the Pow Wow (I have the burn marks to prove it)! I really appreciate the sustainability on campus, recycling and taking care of the Black Hills – home to our sacred sites.

What are you feeling as you approach graduation?

I’m graduating with two degrees; it’s a very positive feeling. My mom graduated from BHSU in 1994 and still has her student ID! She will bead my graduation cap in my regalia colors. I’m a jingle dress dancer so it will be blue, yellow, orange, and black. I will carry forth the teachings that go with wearing the plume during graduation - always being industrious as a woman because women are the backbone of our Nation.

How has BHSU prepared you for your future?

Coming from a smaller university has helped me think clearly about what I want to do in the future. My objective is to go back to my reservation, Standing Rock, and be a tribal judge. What I’ve learned from college is it doesn’t matter where you earn your education, it’s how you use that education after you graduate.

Nearly 400 graduates will be recognized during the 177th Black Hills State University 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, Black Hills State University Class of 2001, deputy chief of the Department of Neurology at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.