Sinte Gleska University GED Student Overcomes Obstacles One Step at a Time

Nov 23, 2021 | Blog, Indigenous Adult Education, Our Programs

Stallan Reifel earned his GED through Sinte Gleska University, while confronting obstacles like limited access to transportation to class.

By Sherman Marshall, SGU Adult Basic Education Director

Sinte Gleska University (SGU) GED student Stallan Reifel earned his GED one step at a time. Motivated to give his son a better life, Stallan enrolled in the SGU Adult Basic Education (ABE) program in 2019 to pursue his GED. When speaking about his family, Stallan explained, “I want to get a good job so I can provide for my son and give him the life I never had.”

GED Tutor Reginald Reifel helps Stallan with math.

GED Tutor Reginald Reifel helps Stallan with math.

Stallan is among the approximately 25% of GED students that do not have transportation to class—but that did not stop him from achieving his goal. Most mornings Stallan walked the 15 miles from his home to the ABE office in Mission, South Dakota.

“Once in a while I would have a ride, but other than that I would just start hitchhiking. The only thing that might stop me was the weather,” he said.

When the SGU campus closed from March through August 2020 due to the pandemic, Stallan was determined not to let the closure stop him from making progress. “I had my GED books at home and still studied during the pandemic,” he explained. Once the ABE program began offering in-person instruction in early 2021, Stallan resumed classes, walking 15 miles and catching rides along the way.

In addition to the typical GED preparation books, Stallan also used the GED Academy online course to help him prepare for the mathematical reasoning test. Stallan spent a total of 30 hours studying in the GED Academy course, which he found instrumental in his success.

“I really liked GED Academy,” he said. “The lessons and feedback were very detailed. I wouldn’t have passed my math test without it.”

Stallan stands with his GED diploma near his home in Okreek, South Dakota.

Stallan stands with his GED diploma near his home in Okreek, South Dakota.

The College Fund’s Native Students Stepping Forward grant program has supported the SGU ABE program to explore new approaches and practices to help students like Stallan obtain their GED. One such practice is providing students increased access to transportation to class and testing centers. Transportation is an ever-present obstacle to many students, but SGU offers support where they are able and continues to explore more sustainable options. When Stallan began taking the GED tests, Assistant GED Examiner, Denise One Star, coordinated transportation to the test center so he would arrive on time.

The SGU ABE program also provides all GED preparation and testing services free of charge to ensure fees are not an added barrier, and offers students incentives for completion. Stallan used the incentive gift cards he received for passing the GED tests to buy his son new shoes.

Since completing his GED in September 2021, Stallan’s goals are to get a job and sign up for classes at SGU in the spring. Reflecting on his GED journey, Stallan offered these powerful words of encouragement, “It brought happiness in my heart because it was a big accomplishment. Anyone can do it. You have to have the drive to get up every day and try your hardest. You can live with failing, but you can’t live with not trying. I never gave up. I never let anything stop me.”

For more information about the SGU Adult Basic Education program, visit

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