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Mitchell High’s Mebius, Steiner tackle high school, Mitchell Tech at once

Pair graduating from both schools, looking ahead to future careers

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Madelynn Steiner and Hazel Mebius are graduating from both Mitchell High School and Mitchell Technical College this school year.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic
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MITCHELL — Spring is graduation season, and around Mitchell, students completing their journey through high school, technical school or college are walking across the stage to receive their diplomas, taking their first steps in the next stage of their lives and careers.

Two Mitchell High School students are pulling double duty this year, as they are poised to complete coursework and graduate from both Mitchell High School and Mitchell Technical College.

Hazel Mebius and Madelynn Steiner, both seniors who are set to graduate from high school on Sunday, are also in the process of graduating from Mitchell Technical College, with Mebius pursuing a diploma in geospatial technologies and Steiner working toward her LPN diploma.

“I’ve really liked it,” Mebius recently told the Mitchell Republic about her high school experience.

As she made her way through her high school career, Mebius became interested in studying Geographic Information Systems (GIS), a discipline that focuses on maps, global positioning system satellites and other studies. And while it sounded like an interesting field to pursue, she wasn’t entirely sure it was the path for her.

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“I got interested in it and was looking at going to South Dakota State University for GIS, but I didn’t know if I would like it that much. It sounded super-interesting, but high school had no courses like that,” Mebius said. “We were looking around, my mom and I were, and then we got all-connected.”

Mebius had completed all her high school requirements during her junior year, and she couldn’t find any extra classes to take her senior year that really interested her. She found the geospatial sciences program at Mitchell Technical College, and, after learning it was a one-year program that could help her jump-start her future career aspirations, she decided to jump on board and enroll last August.

It was a bit of a whirlwind, she said.

“It was a very spur-of-the-moment decision. I had all my high school credits done junior year already, so I didn’t have to go back to the high school. I did full-time at Mitchell Tech,” Mebius said.

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Hazel Mebius is graduating from Mitchell High School and Mitchell Technical College this year.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

Without any obligation remaining to high school classes, she didn’t have to worry about scheduling conflicts or dividing her time between high school and technical college curricula. She stopped back at Mitchell High School for various reasons, but for the most part she dove head first into the next phase of her educational career.

Her time at Mitchell Tech also resulted in her being the recipient of a Spirit of Mitchell Technical College award. Faculty members annually select one student graduating from each program for the honor. Students are chosen as the graduates who best embody the “spirit” of Mitchell Tech and exemplify their chosen occupation through study, hard work, reliability, contribution to their program and future potential in their employment field.

The decision to jump into the waters at Mitchell Tech has served her well, she said, and has been an enjoyable experience. The school’s focused programs, small class sizes and knowledgeable faculty made the work that much more enjoyable, she said.

“I really liked it. It was small so I felt that it was a really close-knit (class) and I knew everyone super-well. In the end, there were three of us, so we got to know each other pretty well,” Mebius said.

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Like Mebius, Steiner had already completed her high school requirements by the time she was done with her junior year. That gave her the chance to get a head start on a goal that she had been contemplating for some time: studying to become a licensed practical nurse.

Living in Mitchell, Steiner had two solid options for advancing her studies — Dakota Wesleyan University and Mitchell Technical College, both of which offer nursing programs right here in town.

“I knew I wanted to go into nursing, so I explored the options at Dakota Wesleyan University and Mitchell Technical College. My original plan was to go to DWU, but my neighbor’s daughter-in-law was one of the teachers in the RN program at Mitchell Tech, and she talked to me a lot and I ended up touring Mitchell Tech over the summer,” Steiner said.

That swung the balance in favor of Mitchell Tech, and she entered the program in August of last year. A popular and growing program, the LPN program at Mitchell Tech was full at the time she applied, but a bit of luck worked in her favor before the start of classes in the fall.

“The program was full when I applied, so I had no idea what I was going to do. Then I got a call in early August that some people had dropped out and I had a place if I’d like to take it,” Steiner said. “I went to orientation and got my ID and everything.”

The two students both walked the stage already during the Mitchell Technical College graduation earlier this month, and now are set to do the same Sunday afternoon at the Corn Palace, where Mitchell High School will hold its commencement ceremony. After that, it’s on to yet another stage.

Mebius eventually plans to attend Dakota State University (DSU) in Madison to study cyber leadership and intelligence with an emphasis on world affairs and human behavior. She credits Mitchell Tech with helping her find work while she gets ready for college. She is currently working for Millennium Geospatial, a company based out of Wisconsin with employees working remotely from around the country.

“What was super-nice about Mitchell Tech is they have internship opportunities and part-time jobs already lined up for us,” Mebius said. “And I work from home. We work with maps all day long.”

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She said she’s weighing her options for after college and will see where life takes her.

“I know that sounds cheesy — to say I’ll see where life takes me — but I don’t know what’s going to happen in my life four years from now,” Mebius said.

Steiner, who walked the stage for her unofficial graduation at Mitchell Tech on May 6, will technically still be taking classes at Mitchell Tech until July and then will start her own internship at the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls. She will then have a pinning ceremony in July and then will eventually take her boards at her convenience. She expects to complete her work this coming August.

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Madelynn Steiner is graduating from Mitchell High School and Mitchell Technical College this year.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

Steiner also said her time at Mitchell Tech was well-spent and enjoyable.

“I love the teachers, who are very supportive. If you don’t understand anything you can talk to them one-on-one,” Steiner said.

She also isn’t certain about her future after her internship, but she is thinking of circling around to become a registered nurse, though she hasn’t made any decisions on where she may pursue that goal.

Both graduates give credit to Mitchell High School’s mass customized learning program, which allows students to focus on dual credits and work at their own pace, for helping them achieve their goals, as well as their teachers and families for their support.

The pair are among 223 high school seniors who enrolled in at least one dual credit course this year at Mitchell Tech. Those students hail from six different states, including two home school students. Along with Mebius and Steiner, 12 students are enrolled in a two-year program and took their first year as seniors in high school. 36 additional Mitchell High School students enrolled in at least one dual credit course, according to statistics provided by Mitchell Tech.

“In order to have success in this program and coursework, students must have an abundance of responsibility, discipline, and focus. Hazel and Madelynn are certainly each of those, and they’re also tremendous individuals. They aren’t just completing a program, they’re creating a network of connections with other strong students and future leaders, and they’re getting a bit of a jump-start on other relevant coursework and career goals,” said Joe Childs, principal of Mitchell High School. “The opportunity to have our MHS students learn, on the campus of one of our nation’s top performing community colleges, has been invaluable. I am thrilled to see our students leaving with the skills needed for continued achievement and the confidence to know that they can achieve anything.”

That last year has been a busy, intense ride, but they’re happy they chose the paths they did and are ready for the next challenge.

“It’s been crazy, and it was a lot of time away from my family. I have not seen them much this year. With school, I feel like I’m a little lab rat in my room,” Steiner said.

Mebius agreed.

“It’s been fast-paced, fun and I’m glad I did it. I wouldn’t take it back,” Mebius said.

Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at ekaufman@mitchellrepublic.com.
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