By Kateri Montileaux, OLC GED Director
Although TCUs are still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic along with the rest of the world, Oglala Lakota College (OLC) has continued to make a positive impact in its communities with the Dollar General American Indian and Alaska Native Literacy and Adult Education Program grant, serving the Pine Ridge and Eagle Butte Reservations and the Rapid City area.
In December 2020, OLC assisted 55 GED students with $100 each of emergency “angel fund” support and awarded three GED graduates with $100 monetary gifts, as well as 10 students who accomplished level increases with $25 monetary gifts. These incentives encouraged students in their GED studies and also came as a welcome relief for students and their families, especially during the holiday season.
Incentives serve as a recruitment and retention tool, keeping students motivated and focused on the first step of earning their GED to meet their future goals.
There are four components to the incentive program. The incentive amount depends on the students’ accomplishment. Eligible students include:
1. New GED students who enroll in the program and complete ten (10) hours of study;
2. Students who achieve an increase in test level (after successfully passing an Official Practice Test (OPT), each test level is awarded);
3. Students who complete their GED; and
4. Students in need of angel fund emergency support for meals and housing assistance.
Students have expressed their appreciation for the incentive program and the support they receive from the College Fund grant that covers the costs of the incentive program as well as testing fees and gas to travel to the main GED testing site.
Sheldon Flute from the White Clay (Oglala) district plans to enroll in the Oglala Lakota College applied science program to major in construction once obtaining his GED. He would like to one day have his own side business working on small construction projects, as well as work at the Oglala Service Center as head of maintenance to help give back to the community. Sheldon’s advice to others pursuing their GED is “Study hard, don’t give up, and keep pursuing your educational goals”.
Mark Two Bulls from the White Clay (Oglala) district plans to enroll at Western Dakota Tech in Rapid City after completing his GED. He encourages other students, “Don’t give up, keep trying, and eventually it will all work out”.
Dolly Harrison is a student from the Pahin Sinte (Porcupine) college center. She is a member of the Navajo tribe, but was raised in Rosebud, South Dakota. She set out to obtain her GED as the first step to creating a foundation and bright future for her children and herself. Dolly plans to get her cosmetology license upon obtaining her GED certificate, and would also like to continue her education to earn a bachelor’s degree and eventually a master’s degree. She says, “I want to show my children that no matter how bad a downfall can be, we as Native people can always lift ourselves back up.”