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Riley Holm

Virginia, MN
Major:  Bachelor of Science, psychology
BSU graduate:  2007
Route:  BSU extension courses through Arrowhead University

Program director
Range Mental Health Center, Virginia, MN

Riley Holm

Riley Holm wanted a career where he could “make a difference in people’s lives.”   He found that chance in the BSU psychology program offered through Arrowhead University on the Hibbing Community College campus.  Before he graduated, he landed a job with Range Mental Health Center in Virginia, MN, helping people who had suffered traumatic brain injuries.  He knew he’d found his niche.

“When you see people’s lives change for the better, you feel like you’re making a difference and there aren’t a whole lot of jobs out there like that,” says Holm.

Today he manages six programs, 40 employees and multiple budgets as program director of community support and rehabilitative services.

“Psychology has always been my passion and BSU made it possible to follow that passion,” says Holm.

When he graduated from high school in 1995, Holm completed a carpentry degree at a technical college and worked in construction while also completing his associate’s degree.  

Inspired by a teacher, he began a bachelor’s degree program in Duluth.  But then his grandfather fell ill and Holm returned to Virginia to care for him.  Holm went back to work as a construction project manager, got married and then when his daughter was born, decided it was time to complete his degree.   With new responsibilities, he said earning his degree would have been overwhelming without the BSU extension program and supportive instructors.  He attended classes at night and worked by day.

“I went to school with sheet rock dust all over my hair,” recalls Holm noting that he could have taken some courses online, but preferred the classroom.  He also appreciated that many of his instructors were also working mental health professionals.

“When you have teachers with practical experience, you gain so much from what they share,” says Holm.  “You can study psychology but putting it into practice is a little more challenging.”

Holm found that one of his most valuable classroom experiences was a staged counseling session videotaped and critiqued by his colleagues and instructor. 

“It’s amazing what you learn watching yourself in action,” says Holm.  “The BSU psychology program wasn’t just learning from a book, but learning about myself and growing as a professional.”

Today, Holm says that he confidently recruits other psychology students from the BSU program knowing that they’ve completed a rigorous program and will be well-prepared professionals.