ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

OPINION: South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship: A gift for South Dakota's future

As South Dakota's 2018 legislative session comes to a close, I'd like to thank our state legislators for their continued support of the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship.

Former U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin poses for a photo at Augustana University, where she recently became the university's president. Evan Hendershot / Forum News Service
Former U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin poses for a photo at Augustana University, where she recently became the university's president. (Evan Hendershot / Republic)

As South Dakota's 2018 legislative session comes to a close, I'd like to thank our state legislators for their continued support of the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship.

The South Dakota State Legislature and former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds established the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship (SDOS) 15 years ago to help our best and brightest high school graduates afford a post-secondary education at any university, college or technical school in the state accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Thanks to continued support from our state legislature, the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship will continue to provide support to qualifying students who attend an eligible higher education institution in South Dakota (for the current academic year, SDOS scholars can receive up to $6,500 over four years).

In addition to the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship, Augustana University is able to provide additional financial aid to young South Dakotans thanks to philanthropic support from generous alumni and friends. Our scholarship model provides those meeting the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship requirements of a 3.0 GPA and 24 ACT with a minimum scholarship award of $13,000 annually. This means that a South Dakota Opportunity Scholar would receive approximately $14,300 per year - at a minimum - to attend Augustana, a university that offers a 12:1 student-faculty ratio and a 99 percent job placement rate upon graduation. Such scholarship amounts make Augustana more than competitive with any public or private college or university in the region from a net tuition perspective. Moreover, many South Dakota Opportunity Scholars are also gifted musicians, athletes and artists, and therefore qualify for even more scholarship support at Augustana.

Last fall, I had the distinct pleasure of welcoming hundreds of South Dakota Opportunity Scholars to Augustana's campus in the heart of Sioux Falls as they began their college careers.

ADVERTISEMENT

They came from communities large and small, from every corner of the state - from the Black Hills and West River, to Pierre and Mitchell, to the northeast region where I grew up, to right here in Sioux Falls. They joined upperclassmen from throughout the state in a shared commitment to find and build pathways to possibility.

At Augustana, we have the privilege of knowing, teaching and caring for these extraordinary young men and women. Our South Dakota Opportunity Scholars join students from 32 other states and 32 countries, each of whom chose Augustana because of its reputation for academic excellence, its commitment to innovation and discovery, and its graduate outcomes.

Our job is to get them ready - not just for one career, but for a lifetime of career opportunities and servant leadership. We do that by giving them a broad foundation of knowledge, teaching them 21st century skills, providing ways for them to engage in dialogue and creating opportunities for experiential learning through internships, research, clinical work, study abroad and volunteerism.

It makes us proud to say that upon graduation, the majority of Augustana students choose to stay and build their careers in South Dakota, powering the state's economic engine while serving the communities they call home. Our South Dakota Opportunity Scholars have gone on to become entrepreneurs, physicians, attorneys, teachers, pastors, artists, scientists, advocates, journalists, nurses and more - each doing his or her part to make this great state we all call home a better place.

What an amazing return on investment.

So please join me in thanking the South Dakota State Legislature and its individual members for their continued support of the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship - a gift to our state that will continue to give for generations to come.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
What To Read Next
Neither the banana belt nor the wig and dress were big stories. They did offer glimpses into the human side of lawmaking.
What also is known, though, is that most of these investors have deep ties to fossil fuels and some to oil-producing giants like Saudi Arabia.
You don’t see many straight-forward apologies by elected officials these days.
It wasn’t just the students where he made an impact. He was active at community events and consistently looked for areas that needed improvement, which is a fantastic quality in a leader.