WSC president announces new program

Wayne State plans to implement cooperative education program for 15 students

Special to the Wayne Stater

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“Today is truly a great day to be a Wildcat,” Marysz Rames, president of Wayne State, said Jan. 31, while announcing the implementation of a cooperative education program that will offer 15 students a 24,000 dollar scholarship over four years.

The program will support work force and economic development in Northeast Nebraska by providing scholarships in fall 2020 to students who will major in business, communication or information technology.

She said the goal upon graduation is to have these students hired into high-skilled, high-wage jobs in Northeast Nebraska.

Rames said the program hopes to recruit students with grit and tenacity for the program, which was developed to address the workforce crisis in Nebraska.

Rames also said the students will reside in a community of learners at Wayne State where they will receive a prescribed and accelerated curriculum that will arm them with the knowledge, as well as the soft skills to work in a business in their senior year.

“The Wayne State faculty should be commended for working in tandem with industry to adjust their curriculum to meet the needs of Northeast Nebraska by preparing students to be successful in this program focused on workforce development,” Rames said. “During their first three years in Wayne, students will also have the opportunity to engage with Norfolk business partners through site visits, job shadowing and mentorships.

“In their senior year, the cooperative education students will move to Norfolk where they will earn 18 credit hours by working for a Norfolk business for approximately 30 hours a week over a nine-month period,” Rames said. “As part of the program, they will be required to reside in housing in the downtown Norfolk area, which will provide them with an opportunity to engage academically and socially with their peers.  This portion of the program will help students connect with the community and gain an appreciation for the many exciting social and cultural opportunities available in the city of Norfolk.”

Rames said the process to select these students will begin immediately. Students selected for the cooperative program will receive 2,500 dollars their freshmen year, 3,000 dollars their sophomore year, 3,500 dollars their junior year and 15,000 dollars their senior year, which equates to full tuition and housing.

Students must apply and be admitted to Wayne State, then answer some additional essay questions to be considered for the cooperative program. Rames said she hopes to begin considering applications for the program by March 1.

The kickoff of the cooperative program was made possible by the Aksarben Foundation, which has agreed to support the first cohort of cooperative education scholars by pledging 360,000 dollars.
Rames said WSC hopes to offer up to 75 more cooperative education scholarships over the next few years.

The cooperative education program is one of several strategies connected to the “Northeast Nebraska Growing Together” initiative that was developed as part of the Aksarben Foundation challenge to address the workforce crisis in Nebraska. Rames said that under the leadership of Mike Flood, former speaker of the Nebraska Legislature and current Aksarben board member, a group of community leaders identified six bold strategies to transform Northeast Nebraska:  downtown development, founders in residence, cooperative scholarships, workforce retraining, artists in residence and early childhood education.

“The cooperative education program is a great example of a community—businesses, educators and public servants—rallying together to take responsibility for its future,” Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts said. “The next generation of Nebraska leaders won’t appear out of thin air.  They’ll need to be mentored, taught and connected to opportunities where they can contribute their skills.”

“Aksarben scholarships date back over 60 years and have long been a cornerstone of the Aksarben mission,” Sandra Reding, Aksarben president, said. “Scholarships are ‘ground-zero’ when it comes to supplying the demand for new workers. These scholarships will allow students the opportunity to study rapidly changing industries such as information technology, business or communication, and have the opportunity to secure employment prior to graduation near their homes and families.”

Students who want a robust, hands-on learning experience in the three areas of study that will allow them to remain in Northeast Nebraska, can apply at www.wsc.edu/growtogether.

Amanda Broberg

Amanda Broberg

Amanda Broberg

Amanda Broberg