For recent grads and adults, Education offers a variety of programs

Recent grads: Summer has just begun, you’ve graduated from high school, good times are ahead — hanging out with friends and sleeping in is on that list. But what about the future?

The Southern Ute Department of Education could have the answer. Whether you’re looking for a certificate, a higher education scholarship or just a job, the department can help.

According to its mission statement, the department exists “to prove educational and leadership opportunities to Southern Ute Tribe and other Native American students in order to promote cultural awareness, and academic achievement.”

The department has different opportunities to improve your education by participating in the scholarship program.

“This program is designed to help tribal members gain a successful educational experience and meet the goals of their desired degree. Scholarships are provided after the completion of high school or GED,” said Louise Wilson, academic advisor.

The program has been a top priority since past Chairman Leonard C. Burch made it so in the 1980s.

“There has been somewhat of a scholarship program going back 30-plus years. In 1984, Chairman Leonard C. Burch made education one of the top priorities of his administration,” Distance Learning Coordinator Walter Howe said. “The full-time scholarship back then was basically what a part-time scholarship is today. In the fall of 1999, the current scholarship program started.”

In addition to earning a high school diploma or GED, there are other requirements to the scholarship application.

“For all new students, they must do the Kuder [career assessment test]. The application has additional information that is required. The application deadline is due July 1 every year,” Wilson said.

The Department of Education also gives out an Adult Education Scholarship and Adult Education Certificate for older students who want to further their education.

“The Adult Occupational Training Scholarship is for tribal members who want to pursue an occupational certificate, which is comprised of customized courses pertaining to a particular trade, [that] provides students with necessary expertise,” Wilson said. “Adult education is designed to provide educational opportunities, job and life skills to earn a GED and advance in the work place.”

Recognition and awards are handed out to students in the program, Wilson added.

“The students receive academic awards by their GPA, either by making the institute’s dean’s list or president’s honor roll within that school year. A graduation dinner is provided each year for all graduating students,” she said.

High school graduates of 2013 are getting ready to start their lives, whether they are working, furthering their education, or doing both.

“I am going to continue my education and basketball career at the United Tribes in North Dakota,” Valarie Armstrong said.

“I am taking a small break and working for a while to give me time to think about what I want to go to college for,” Kiana Thompson said.

“I am going to attend San Juan in the fall, but work through the summer. I am not participating in the scholarship program,” Isaiah Valdez said.

“I am going to attend Fort Lewis College, and I plann on participating in the program,” Michelle Simmons said.

With a deadline of July 1 for full-time scholarship applications, many high school graduate students and continuing students have turned in their applications. Part-time scholarships are offered throughout the year.

For more information on bachelor or graduate degree questions, call Wilson at 970-563-0237 ext. 2783. For associate degree questions, call Howe at 970-563-0237 ext. 2785.

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