15 Local HS Graduates Receive Build Dakota Scholarships

15 graduating high school students in the surrounding area were honored as Build Dakota Scholarship recipients Tuesday.

Clayton Deuter, the VP of Enrollment Services at Mitchell Technical College, says that the recipients have earned a full ride scholarship to one of the state’s four technical schools.

Deuter says that the program is in its ninth year.

One of the 15 recipients this year is Yankton senior Jace McCorkell, who’s industry partner with the Build Dakota Scholarship is Classic Collision and Frame, Inc in Menno, will be attending Southeast Technical College to study Collision Repair and Refinished Technology.

McCorkell says that he encourages future graduating students interested in going to a technical college to apply for the Build Dakota Scholarship.

Once Build Dakota scholarship recipients have graduated from their respective technical college, they go on to work with their industry partner for three years.

Build Dakota Scholarships Awarded

Twelve students were officially awarded Build Dakota scholarships at an event in Yankton Tuesday.

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An Educational Step Ahead

Yankton Area Sees 15 Receive Build Dakota Scholarships

With record numbers of area students and employers having taken advantage of Dakota Build Scholarships this year, Yankton Thrive marked the occasion with a recognition event Tuesday.

Scholarship recipients, their families, industry partners, technical college advisors and high-school career advisors came together to celebrate this year’s cohort of Dakota Build scholars at the River Rocks Events Center in Yankton Tuesday.

This year’s winners include 15 students from the Yankton area, Rita Nelson, workforce development director for Yankton Thrive, sponsor of the event, told the Press & Dakotan. The numbers broke down to: seven from Yankton, one from the Gayville-Volin School District, three from the Irene-Wakonda School District and four from Menno High School. Not all were present at Tuesday’s event.

Student advisors and administrators from Lake Area Technical College, Mitchell Technical College, Southeast Technical College and the Department of Labor were on hand to present student certificates and talk about the Build Dakota Program, which offers students a free two-year degree in a technical field in exchange for a three-year work commitment in South Dakota working for their sponsoring industry partner. Upon completion of the three-year commitment, program expenses — as well as the cost of tuition, fees, books, uniforms, equipment and other items — are paid for by the state and the sponsor.

“It’s a highly competitive, full-ride scholarship available to new and incoming students that are going to South Dakota technical colleges,” said Melissa Waldner, business partner specialist for Lake Area Technical College. “It was made possible in by a 2015 donation from T. Denny Sanford, as well as a commitment from Gov. Kristi Noem and support from outstanding industry partners.”

Lake Area Technical College welcomed one student from Menno, who was not at Tuesday’s gathering.

Clayton Deuter, vice president of Enrollment Services for Mitchell Technical College, told attendees about some of the other, less obvious benefits of the program.

“You’re going to leave with a job in hand today and the knowledge that after you finish your work commitment, your full-ride scholarship goes to a free-ride scholarship,” said Deuter, who has been with the program since its inception. “The things that we have learned over the years is, (with) those students that have graduated, we’ve seen them go out and they have a little bit of a step ahead. They work maybe (the summer) between that first and second year; they do their internship with the employers and they move quickly into things that we didn’t think about before: home ownership, supervisory roles, maybe starting their own business down the road.”

To many young people, five years seems like a long time, he said.

“You will learn a lot in five years, and you’ll be totally debt free,” Deuter said. “You’ll have work experience; you’ll have been promoted through different stages in your job and your career; and your counterparts will just be graduating from their four-year schools, if that’s what they chose.”

As the program ushers in its ninth cohort of students, Southeast Technical College is also seeing record numbers of Build Dakota students this year — 150 to be precise, said Kelli Rogotzke, student success advisor for Southeast Technical College.

“Once you sign that contract for Build Dakota, you’re going to have a support team that’s going to help you be successful while you’re a student,” she said to those students headed to Southeast Tech. “You’re going to have your industry partner; you’re also going to have a specific student success advisor. You’ll have academic advisors; there’ll be tutoring available. We will do everything to make sure that we can help you as a student to be successful.”

Industry partners represented at Tuesday’s event included Avera, John’s Service, Classic Collision & Frame, Kalins Indoor Comfort, List Electric, CHS Farmers Alliance, Masaba, C&B Operations, Koletsky Implement, Broadway Chrysler Dodge Jeep and Hora Repair.

Also attending Tuesday’s event were Yankton High School teachers Justin Olson and Brady Muth, who help students participating in the high school internship program and World of Work program, respectively.

“I cannot tell you, both the industry partners and the people from the technical schools, how amazing this whole process has been,” Muth said. “This is what education is supposed to be. It’s supposed to look like you’re finding a place where you have interests and passions and you can turn those passions into success. I think everybody (here) needs a round of applause for that.”

Cohort 8: 2022-2023 Annual Report

From enrollment numbers to partners and resources to student success stories and to looking at the future, this comprehensive annual report explains the ins and outs of the Build Dakota Scholarship Fund and its long-term impact throughout South Dakota.

View the 2022-2023 annual report (PDF) to learn more.

Noem Announces $7.9 Million Investment in Apprenticeship Programs

In Gov. Kristi Noem’s Sioux Falls visit Tuesday, she announced an investment of nearly $8 million over the next three years in apprenticeship programming.

Noem stated the $7.94 million funding of apprenticeships will help fill open positions and encourage people in the state to think of jobs and fields that they may not have considered before.

“We have open jobs, and we don’t want to be disqualifying people based on their resumes,” Noem said.

Noem highlighted South Dakota’s unemployment rate of 1.9 percent.

“Not only is that the lowest unemployment rate that the state of South Dakota has ever had in history, we believe that it is the lowest unemployment rate that any state has ever had in history,” Noem said.

She also said South Dakota has 25,000 open jobs that may or may not require a license or specific skillset.

She argued that, while positive, a low unemployment rate and a high number of open jobs correlate with greater housing challenges, childcare challenges, and similar needs that must be met for working families to thrive. One step the state can take in minimizing barriers is offering training in workforce skills through more apprenticeships.

According to Noem, about 3,000 jobs will be needed in South Dakota every year through 2030. Growing apprenticeship programs will help fill these jobs while allowing people to pick up practical skills and develop problem-solving skills.

Funding will go toward apprenticeships in nearly any field that requires a license to work in South Dakota, including plumbing, electrical work, teaching, cosmetology and real estate.

Noem argued that apprenticeships have not been successful in South Dakota in the past because of a lack of consistent funding — at the state level, but mainly at the federal level — and the burden that apprenticeships put on employers who have to make financial commitments to run the programs. She said this funding will help employers establish those apprenticeships. Businesses will be able to partner with team members from the South Dakota Department of Labor to define and develop apprenticeship programs that work for the employers.