Wyoming student awarded $40,000 BHSU Nelson Scholarship


Black Hills State University will award the 2020-2021 Nelson Scholarship to Abigail Renner of Lander, Wyo. The Nelson Scholarship is worth $40,000 over four years and is awarded annually to a high-achieving high school senior planning to major in the sciences or math at BHSU.

SPEARFISH, S.D. – Black Hills State University will award the 2020-2021 Joseph F. and Martha P. Nelson Scholarship to Abigail Renner of Lander, Wyo.

“Abby’s designation as a Nelson Scholar adds her to a long list of accomplished BHSU students and alumni who were also Nelson Scholars,” said Dr. Charles Lamb, chief research officer at BHSU. “The students who receive this scholarship are accomplished students with great potential to make an impact in challenging but rewarding careers.”

The first four-year Nelson Scholarship was awarded in 1996 to BHSU freshman Brett Theeler from Mitchell. Two decades later, now Lt. Col. Dr. Brett Theeler serves as deputy chief of the Department of Neurology at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Like her predecessor Theeler, Renner also plans to pursue a biology degree at BHSU, followed by medical school and a career in neurology. Neurology is the study of the nervous system including the brain and spinal cord. At home in Lander, Wyo., Renner has job shadowed a neurologist in her local community.

“I’ve seen the impact of neurological conditions on my own family,” says Renner. “That has piqued my interest in the field but also explains the passion behind my choice.”

In addition to majoring in biology at BHSU, Renner will also play for the Yellow Jacket Women’s Volleyball Team. She is an outside hitter.

Renner first visited the BHSU campus in Spearfish for a volleyball camp two summers ago. After walking around campus and staying the residence halls, she says BHSU was always on her list of potential colleges.

“My hometown is a small, secluded town in the mountains and I knew I’d want to go to college in a place with a similar, outdoorsy feel and close-knit community,” says Renner.

Kristen Carmichael, BHSU volleyball coach, said Renner’s athleticism and jumping ability stood out when BHSU first saw Abby play.

“After talking to Abby’s coaches, some opposing coaches, and Abby herself, we knew she would be a great fit for Yellow Jacket Volleyball,” said Carmichael. “She’s a very driven individual both athletically and academically, who will make a positive impact on our team and the university.”

To learn about more about scholarships at BHSU, visit www.BHSU.edu/scholarships


About Joseph and Martha Nelson

Joe and Martha Nelson attended BHSU when it was known as Spearfish Normal School in the 20s. Martha was selected as Swarm Day Queen in 1927 and earned a teaching certificate. Joe earned a degree in education and served as assistant registrar and filled in as registrar during one summer. He taught at Faith High School and served as school superintendent there before going on to earn a master’s degree in organic chemistry and a doctorate in chemistry. He then did research, making synthetic rubber, detergents and other chemicals from petroleum, and assisted in starting up the butyl rubber plants at the beginning of World War II. Nelson was the inventor and co-inventor of 81 U.S. patents on chemicals, rubber and detergents made from rubber. After his death in 1995, at the age of 95, money from his estate was bequeathed to BHSU to establish the scholarship. The Nelsons chose to create the scholarship in honor of former teachers Ida Henton, Evelyn Hesseltine and Mark Richmond.