Behavioral Sciences

Social and behavioral sciences in the college include the departments of economics, psychology and sociology and rural studies.


Miranda Meeker is a psychology major from Spearfish.

“I’m originally from Spearfish, South Dakota, and the reason I chose to major in psychology is because one of my friends committed suicide when I was in high school. That was one reason I picked this major and actually stuck with it, I think, is because it made me passionate about understanding and helping others.

“I want to be a child clinical psychologist and work with any form of adolescents—until they’re 18. I’m going to graduate school this next semester and will probably end up getting my master’s. Then, I’ll go on to get my Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

“When I finish my doctorate, I hope to work in a hospital. I would also like to start my own practice, but I want to work in a children’s hospital first.

“One thing I’m really interested in is traveling. I do a lot of traveling. I’ve been backpacking through Europe, and I’ve also gone to Australia. I lived in Australia all last summer. That was really cool because it gave me a cool cultural experience.

“I’m really intrigued by people as well. One thing I’ve learned is that more people are here to help you than to harm you—especially right now. I feel that there is, not necessarily hate in the world, but fear in the world; but, there isn’t much to be fearful of. I live my life believing that if I’m being fearful, I’m only inhibiting myself. It’s not really protecting me because if people are going to harm me, they’re going to harm me regardless.

“I think the places you go are beautiful, but the people you meet are more beautiful.”

By Shanell Peterson, journalism senior from Alexandria


Cheryl Hartman is a lecturer in the sociology and rural studies department.

“I grew up in Africa. My parents were missionary teachers who went over there when I was a 2-year-old. I was born in America, but I went and lived in Cameroon until I was 17. Since my mother is English and I grew up in Cameroon, I think I’m able to see the world from a global perspective. I have an appreciation for people from other cultures, and I try to understand why they do the things they do.

“A lot of my day is consumed by preparing classes and studying sociology and then teaching sociology and helping students understand it. I just got this job with SDSU in fall 2016, so I’m preparing a lot of brand-new classes, which take a lot of work.

“I’m someone who really enjoys reading and enjoys studying so I think that’s why this job works so well for me. I like to learn new things. I also enjoy talking to and getting to know people. It’s another one of my favorite things.

“I like to bike and travel. My husband and I are going to take a biking trip in Europe in the not-to-distant future. I’m newly married—I just got married this summer. I also have two sons who are very important in my life, and I’m very proud of them.

By Shanell Peterson, journalism senior from Alexandria 
Photos by Garrett Ammesmaki


Brad Woldt, head of the psychology department, said, “This is a story about resilience. Hannah Bressler suffered a devastating head injury from a four-wheeler accident two summers ago. Her prognosis was quite poor, but she has made an amazing recovery and is back taking classes at SDSU.” Bressler is from Spearfish.

“Fast forward to here and now. The things that they taught me in rehab now make sense, and looking back I can say that I get why I was taught everything I was.

“It finally makes sense to me. I got out of Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute right before my birthday. I went to the doctor, and they took pictures of my eyes. They told me that the primary source in my eye did not work. I looked at them and said ‘the ocular motor,’ and he looked at me and said he was amazed at what I knew. What I learned in high school just stuck with me.

“I believe this summer will be the first summer that I don’t have any doctor appointments lined up—it’s the first time in three years. This summer, I will work on getting my brain to focus on more things. I will graduate thankfully next spring. One year. And gosh, it’s been a long, long journey. My parents have said they would not put my worst enemy through what we have been through in the last four years.

“All I can say is that you need to wear your helmet.”

By Tayler Wolff, a senior agricultural communication major from Brookings


This article was written especially for this edition by University Marketing and Communications.

Despite starting at Wall Drug as an 8-year-old, Rick Hustead ’72/M.Ed ’73 really likes going to work each day. While the days can be long, Hustead is proud now to be the chair of the family-owned business.

“Wall Drug is a great family business that came out of the Depression. I just love the story about my grandparents, living in the back 20 feet of the store behind a curtain, with my dad, Bill,” he said. “Dorothy (his grandmother) had the idea of advertising free ice water, which saved the business. Ted (his grandfather) put the free ice water signs up and Wall Drug had its first customer asking for a glass of free ice water before he came back.

“While everything has gone to another level, I want to see it progress,” Hustead continued. “I’m very proud of what my family has done.”

While Wall Drug started as a pharmacy and Bill (his father) earned his Bachelor of Science in pharmacy from State in 1950, Rick was not interested in pursuing that degree. Originally looking for a degree in English at Carroll College, he transferred to State in his junior year.

“I just wanted the opportunity to attend SDSU—that’s where my dad, Bill, got his pharmacy degree. I was ready for a change,” he said. “To be on schedule to graduate on time at SDSU, it was more feasible to pursue a psychology major with an English minor. I thought I’d be more marketable if I got a master’s degree in guidance counseling, and I went after that. I’m very thankful for the education I got at SDSU. It’s turned out to be a great background for business.”

Hustead spent four years as a high school teacher and guidance counselor before working in real estate and managing a fast-food restaurant in Sioux Falls. In 1981, his father asked if he was interested in coming back to Wall Drug. It’s a tradition he’s continued, asking his daughter, Sarah, to join the business in 2012.

“It wasn’t a sure thing for me coming back to work here after graduation,” he said. “However, when Dad asked, I was 30 and ready to come back to the family business.

“I’m heavily involved in personnel and human resources so my psychology background at SDSU really helps me deal with people, which I do all of the time,” Hustead continued. “While I have a lot of contact with customers, what I mainly do in day-to-day work is interact with our employees.”

He can also be found distributing cups of ice water, picking up after someone or taking orders at the café.

Unfortunately, dealing with customers sometimes means having to handle complaints. Hustead said he had already contacted two customers about their comments that morning before being interviewed for this story.

“I respond to 95 percent of our customer complaints. I want to turn them around,” he said. “I want to thank them for their input and do whatever I can to resolve their concerns and have them come back again.

“I’m devoted to Wall Drug. It is an amazing family business and I want it to endure,” he continued. “We want our customers to enjoy their experience at Wall Drug. One of the most important things we do, and Sarah and I talked about this already this morning, is that we provide excellent customer service. It’s huge. It’s why people like us. We try to instill that in our employees and staff.”

While Wall Drug grew from roughly 1,000 square feet of retail space in 1931 to the 77,000-square-foot footprint it has today, Hustead wants to keep Wall Drug moving forward so that Sarah can become the fourth generation to run Wall Drug.

“Sarah and I feel that we are the caretakers of the family business. It’s very engaging to keep a family business going. We have new challenges every day,” he said. “We’re under the philosophy that we should constantly be trying to improve what we’re doing. That can be in terms of customer service, how we run our retail operations or how we manage the restaurant. We want to keep Wall Drug healthy and stay in business.”


Sheriff Marty Stanwick has been the sheriff in Brookings County for 18 years. Before that, he was a member of the Brookings Police Department for 20 years, leaving with a rank of patrol lieutenant. As sheriff of Brookings County, Stanwick oversees the operation of the Sheriff’s Office and the Detention Center. He hires interns from the sociology and rural studies department.

“I think internships are important because they help students get their foot in the door if this is what they want to do as a career … or maybe they learn that this is something that they don’t really want to do.

“When I hire interns, I get them involved. I put them in uniform. That way, if they get into a situation where they have to interview someone then the person interviewed feels a little more comfortable.

“We teach our interns how to run the radio. We teach them how to know their location in the county and we have them talk on the radio. They have to write reports at the end of the week that I sign off on. They also have to turn these reports into their internship adviser.

“What’s unique about my office is that I also have them become familiar with the corrections side. In other words, they ride with the deputy part of the time, but I also have them back in corrections learning the process.

“They learn about booking procedures, fingerprint procedures, escorting inmates and sitting in court through hearings. So, they learn a lot of those things that, if they are going into law enforcement, will help them. I give them a well-rounded internship while they are here.

“They learn that law enforcement jobs are wide-open right now nationwide.”

By Emily Meyer, agricultural communication senior from Orient.
Photo by Emily Meyer


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