Colorado student finds professional connections at BHSU

Jackie Robles, center, mass communication major from Wray, Colo., is pictured with with fellow KBHU-TV members Noelle Thompson, left, and Wyatt Bills. Courtesy photo

SPEARFISH — Jackie Robles knows the importance of making connections, and she is beginning her career in public relations thanks to a connection made at Black Hills State University.

A native of Wray, Colo., Robles will graduate from BHSU in December and recently landed a public relations position with Visit Spearfish, a visitor center that connects tourists to area destinations and builds relationships among businesses.

Her multimedia instructor at BHSU, Brian Gebhart, suggested Robles apply for the position. 

“Brian is the director of public relations and digital media at Visit Spearfish, and he also teaches at BHSU. He knew about my career goals and I was thankful for the opportunity to apply,” said Robles.

In the first days on the job, Robles has already been able to use her writing and marketing skills by publishing posts on the Visit Spearfish webpage.

Even though she is the daughter of two science-minded parents (her mother has a master’s in chemistry and her father a master’s in animal science), Robles said a career in public relations is the perfect fit for her. 

“I love marketing, talking to people, and presenting my ideas. My parents raised me to be social, saying hi to everyone in the room and using my social skills and manners,” said Robles, who is fully bilingual with Spanish as her first language spoken at home.

When looking at colleges, Robles knew she wanted a university that offered a public relations emphasis. Many institutions she looked at offered communications degrees, but the PR focus with the mass communication degree at BHSU was what influenced her to enroll.

“I didn’t know if I wanted to travel seven hours from my home in Colorado, but we did a college tour as a family vacation and my parents and I really loved the campus and all the resources BHSU provided. It was better for me financially to attend BHSU as well,” she said. 

A natural leader, Robles has found many opportunities at BHSU to grow. Her freshman year, she was elected president of her residence hall and became involved with KBHU-TV on campus, where she later became station manager.

She’s also served on the Student Senate, as a Resident Assistant (RA), and gained marketing experience on Campus Activities Board. Robles has even acted in the BHSU Theatre production of Jungle Book and supported BHSU Athletics with the Jacket Pack.

Robles added to her professional portfolio while serving on the Campus Activities Board. Another of Robles’ mentors, graduate student Nicole Walters, connected Robles with a community mobilization effort to support drug-free youth. Robles designed a billboard that is now part of her professional portfolio. 

“I’ve learned many career skills at BHSU – from editing and creating content, to working with Adobe products and the green screen,” she said. “I’ve also grown in my ability to delegate, run meetings, and pinpoint the most important information for my future clients.”

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