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Career Scholarship Program Provides Support for Wayne State Scholars

Published Monday, August 17th, 2020

The newly created program will provide funding for students pursuing careers in critical workforce areas and will help support WSC's Cooperative Education program.

Wayne State College is proud to announce that the Nebraska Legislature approved the Career Scholarship Program to provide funding for student support aimed at growing the state’s workforce in high demand fields. The newly created Career Scholarship Program will provide a total of $1 million in scholarships in its first year to be awarded to Chadron State, Peru State, or Wayne State College students who are pursuing careers in critical workforce areas. The new funding, signed by Gov. Pete Ricketts on Aug. 6, will help support Wayne State’s Cooperative Education program as part of the Aksarben Foundation’s Northeast Nebraska Growing Together initiative launched last spring.

This scholarship offers students an opportunity to attain their four-year degree at an affordable cost while providing career experience through a work-integrated model of cooperative education. Scholarships can range from $2,000 to $10,000 per year to cover tuition, fees, and room and board expenses. The scholarship is renewable for up to four years for students who remain eligible. The investment made by the state will provide affordable access to a four-year college education and decrease debt for the scholars in the program.

Wayne State College, along with Growing Together, an Aksarben Workforce Initiative, announced the inaugural scholarship winners for the selective Northeast Nebraska Growing Together Cooperative Education Program in April. This first cohort of 26 students received scholarships provided by the Aksarben Foundation and began their education at Wayne State College as freshmen this fall for a three-year on-campus education to be followed by a fourth year of living in Norfolk while working for a local business. This year, WSC students will be pursuing degree programs across business, communications, and computer science. 

“It’s important to realize that the ‘employability journey’ in today’s global marketplace is no longer a linear path,” said Michael Keibler, Wayne State’s new Executive Director of Cooperative Education and Industry Liaison. “Students are expected to graduate with multiple competencies that stretch from critical thinking to leadership to collaboration. The Career Scholarship program provides students the ability to attend college and graduate with those competencies and a year of important real-world experience.” 

“The Career Scholarship program can be seen as a way to connect ‘affordability to aspirations’, meaning that students who aspire to graduate from college will now have a financial path to afford college, reducing their financial pressures,” Keibler continued. “The Career Scholarship program connects students to college, and in turn, the college connects students to employers in the new Growing Together Co-op program. Ultimately, each of these connectors helps feed a stream of career-ready graduates into the employment sector, which not only grows businesses but the community and allows Northeast Nebraska to remain competitive in a global market environment.” 

Keibler joined Wayne State in July after 11 years working at the University of Louisville in career development roles where he coordinated cooperative education, clinical electives, service learning, and global program initiatives for medical and engineering students. Outside of higher education, his earlier roles were in sales management and a tour of service in the U.S. Air Force. Keibler earned a bachelor’s and master's from the University of Louisville in Organizational Development and a Doctorate in Education from Morehead State University specializing in Adult and Higher Education Leadership. 

“Cooperative education programs are a partnership between the student, industry, and college,” Keibler said. “My goal is to create collaborative learning and working opportunities between the three. To do so, it’s crucial to develop an engaging career readiness program surrounding cooperative education as a means to really prepare students to successfully transition into the workforce in Northeast Nebraska. Secondary to this, my goal is to build on our educational partnerships with the local communities and employers through the co-op program and engage our students directly with industry.”

Keibler has found Wayne State to be prepared to provide hands-on learning. The College is committed to combining on-the-job learning in a mandatory co-op program with an accelerated curriculum to help Growing Together students gain real-world experience that allows them to graduate in four years with a year of industry experience. In the end, the back-to-back co-op semesters promote a more in-depth learning experience that requires students to become a practitioner in their field and move their learning from conceptual to real-world application. 

“This is co-op at its best,” Keibler said. “We have a strong curriculum in place founded on core tenets that develop career readiness and is flexible to experiential learning. Leveraging those strengths will leave clear footprints for other students to follow in the years to come.”  

Business leaders who would like more information about cooperative education should contact: Keibler at mikeibl1@wsc.edu or 402-375-7198.  

Business leaders who would like more information about the Growing Together program should contact Executive Director Angie Stenger at angie@growingtogetherne.com or 402-860-7439.  

Wayne State is proud to recognize the inaugural Northeast Nebraska Growing Together Cooperative Education program scholars:
Abigail Gardner of Chadron in Business Management
Alexander Lyons of Dwight in Business Management
Amber Voboril of David City in Business Management
Aubree Howell of Omaha in Marketing
Austin Pierce of Brainard in Office Administration
Blake Kobs of Ashland in Business Management
Braden Ehlers of Norfolk in Accounting
Brogan Jones of Allen in Agri-business
Cailee Brugger of Wayne in Computer Science
Callasandra Hurley of York in Electronic Media
Caroline Akinnigbagbe of Plainview in Computer Science
Conor Ramold of Neligh in Business Management
Cory Martinson of Wausa in Electronic Media
Delaney Meyer of Lincoln in Journalism
Gregory Downing of Chadron in Computer Science
Hailey Samson of York in Computer Information Systems - Programmer/Analyst
Jaegher Ogden of Atkinson in Business Management
Jarvis Smith of Harvard in Agri-business
Noah Burwell of David City in Computer Science
Raymond Mauldin of Norfolk in Computer Science
Seth Dey of Syracuse in Computer Science
Shane Stahn of Central City in Business Management
Summer Schroeder of Clearwater in Finance
Trevor Boggs of Greenwood in Computer Science
Ty Erwin of Laurel in Business Management
Zoey Kreikemeier of West Point in Marketing