Scholar Videos

Scholar Stories

See the benefits of a Build Dakota Scholarship firsthand. Check out these stories from past recipients.


Cody recently moved from Mayville, Missouri to Custer, South Dakota. As the youngest in his family, Cody knew he wanted to go to school, but like most, had no idea how to get the money to pay for it. As a first-generation college student, Cody didn’t let wading through college applications and scholarship and financial aid processes deter him. In fact, his perseverance may very well make him the first in his family to finish school. “The BDS has given me the means to go to school,” says Cody. “My family and friends are very happy that I was awarded this scholarship.” Cody’s choice to study in the Environmental Engineering Program at Western Dakota Tech is a perfect fit for him as he “likes being outdoors.” Moving to South Dakota and now investing in the state’s workforce through the BDS program is a great opportunity for him. “It means I get to go to school,” he said when asked about his BDS full-ride award.

Wyatt – Welding and Fabrication Program

Wyatt is a 2015 high school senior, and the oldest of three kids. He had hoped to follow in the footsteps of his parents by attending college, but like most middle-income families, struggled with the notion of taking out thousands of dollars in student loans to pursue a career in the field he loves – welding. “We don’t have a lot of money, and by getting this scholarship, I think I’ve shown my siblings what to strive for,” he said. “This gives me an opportunity to excel in school by focusing on my education.” As one of two students in his high school to receive the Build Dakota Scholarship, Wyatt’s teachers, classmates and family are impressed with his full-ride award, which he plans to use for the Welding and Fabrication Program at Western Dakota Tech. “There’s a huge need for welders,” he said. “This scholarship has opened a whole new road for me here in South Dakota, that’s for sure.”

Shyanna – Computer-Aided Drafting

Shyanna has been interested in architecture since she was 14. Wanting to stay in South Dakota, she decided the Computer-Aided Drafting program at Western Dakota Tech was the perfect way to start building her skills. “When I was little I always liked building things with my dad,” said Shayanna. “I mentored with an architect and decided yes, this is exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life.” With four siblings and a single mom with one income, it has been difficult for Shyanna to fund school. She was so excited to learn about the Build Dakota Scholarship that she was the second person to turn in an application at WDT. “Eventually I want to go back and further my education in architecture,” said Shyanna. “The Build Dakota Scholarship helps people like myself who don’t have the financial stability they need to go to college because it’s so expensive. It opens so many doors.”

Kendra – Practical Nursing Program

“This scholarship means a lot. It means the difference between pursuing my dream,” says Kendra, a Build Dakota Scholarship recipient who is a mother of three pursuing her degree in the Practical Nursing Program at Western Dakota Tech. Kendra has worked in the medical field since she was 16 years old, and like many nontraditional students, put off going to school until she raised her young family. Working in hospice care gave Kendra the inspiration to provide the best patient care possible to people who could not care for themselves. She started as a Medical Assistant and quickly learned that becoming a Practical Nurse was her dream. She says, “I am very honored and appreciative to receive the gift of the Build Dakota Scholarship. It has made me realize that you’re never too old to go after something you’ve always wanted.” Kendra and her oldest son are both attending technical schools in South Dakota – on opposite sides of the state.