It just had to happen

Editor’s note: This story was written by Spencer Chase, a student in Lyle Olson’s magazine writing class. Other stories written by the students can be viewed at

Growing up in a nearby town, having an early passion for campus activities like sports and theater, plus family connections to the university all lead Tara Krog to South Dakota State University.

“While it was a natural choice for me to attend a place that was already partially home, I also made sure that it would fit my goals for the future. As a senior at Sioux Valley High School, I met with Dr. Al Branum who was an administrator at South Dakota State University and was in the department of psychology. He spent time with me talking about what a degree in psychology would mean, the necessity of graduate work to become a psychologist, and how SDSU would be a great place to start,” Krog says.

Krog, now 33, works as a clinical psychologist at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix in the Behavioral Health Annex. Before her move to Arizona, Krog was an active member of the SDSU community, including her participation in Psi Chi, the international psychology honor society, the psychology club, and Golden Key honor society.

After she graduated from SDSU in 2001, Krog attended USD’s clinical psychology graduate program. She earned a Master of Arts in psychology and a Master of Public Administration in 2005 and received her doctorate in clinical psychology in December 2007. Krog had intended to stay in South Dakota and utilize her clinical psychology and administration skills in the state, but she met her fiancé, a native of Arizona, during her time at USD. They returned to his home state after their graduations, and she began her career in clinical psychology.

“I became interested in clinical psychology when I was an undergraduate at South Dakota State University. In several courses, we discussed the various fields within psychology. I found myself most attracted to working directly with individuals suffering from mental illnesses,” Krog says. “I was fascinated with the use of psychological tests in determining psychiatric diagnoses and individual personality characteristics after taking a psychological assessment course with Dr. Brad Woldt.”

Krog says she works every day to see that psychological diseases are treated just as other biological or physical diseases.

“One of the major challenges (of clinical psychology) involves breaking down the stigma attached to mental illness and educating people on the realities of psychiatric conditions. Many patients that are hospitalized become concerned that their lives will forever be changed and that they will not be able to achieve the goals they had established for themselves. It becomes essential for them to realize that recovery is possible with mental illness as it is for physical illness,” Krog says.

Krog is able to get back to Brookings on occasion to see her family and take in SDSU athletic events, and still thinks fondly of her time at SDSU. Even 11 years after her undergraduate graduation, she still points to the smaller, more focused learning environment as a key to her future.

“(Dr. Branum) told me a ‘secret’ that I found to be true: As an undergraduate psychology major, attend a program without graduate students. That way the professors are focused on you as an undergrad, and you have more opportunities to work with faculty members,” Krog says.

“This is true at South Dakota State University and is likely the reason that the psychology faculty were so influential in my future successes.”

By Spencer Chase

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