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Alumni

Western Dakota Technical College and the WDT Foundation encourage alumni to stay connected. The Alumni Committee exists to support the goals and to strengthen the ties between alumni, the community, and Western Dakota Technical College.

We encourage all Western Dakota Technical College Alumni to...

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Be Informed! By staying informed, you’ll make a wonderful ambassador for Western Dakota Tech – within your profession and to prospective students.

Get Involved! Whether it’s participating in or attending an Alumni event, you can play a vital role in preserving the excellence of Western Dakota Tech.    

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Alumni Committee

The Alumni Committee will foster a spirit of loyalty and promote the general welfare of WDT. The Alumni Committee encourages alumni to stay connected, promote WDT, and participates in WDT Foundation Campaigns and Events.  The Alumni Committee exists to support the goals and to strengthen the ties between alumni, the community, and Western Dakota Technical College.  

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Distinguished Alumni Recipients

2021 - Lori Moore 

Western Dakota Tech (WDT) 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award winner Lori Moore is a role model for setting high goals, achieving them, and ultimately rising above difficult times. A successful business owner, Lori enjoys giving back to her community and encourages others to do the same.

Lori graduated from WDT with an AAS Degree in Medical Transcription in 2002. She is now the owner of Caramel Creations in the Rushmore Mall.

Lori has worked hard to accomplish all she has done. Her childhood was one of poverty and abuse. She grew up having very low self-esteem but did everything she could to rise above it. She is sharing her personal story, not for others to feel sorry for her, but for those going through hardships to know life can change for the better.

“I want people to have hope and know they can get through anything,” Lori said. “The best advice I can give is, ‘Never look back, always keep your eyes on what you can change in your life to advance yourself.’”   

Lori explains that choosing to attend WDT was her first step in events that would change her life for the better.

“It started with just getting through my college program. I strived to get the best grades I could. I knew before I even graduated that I wanted more,” she said. “I worked my field for several years and enrolled in college with my sight set on a four-year degree.”

Lori decided to continue with higher education at Black Hills State University in 2006, but her life took a different direction after seeing an advertisement for gourmet caramel apples on TV.

“I thought to myself I can do better. I had never made caramel before, so it is funny I even had this thought,” Lori explained. “A friend of mine in Newell asked me to do a craft show with her and that was the start of my caramel adventures back in 2008. It was hard work and often it seemed like I would never make it. But like my hard work at WDT, it paid off.”

Lori then started her successful business, Caramel Creations. From her Rushmore Mall store, she now sells her caramel creations wholesale to many other businesses. Lori is grateful and happy to report her business has done very well even through the pandemic this last year.

“I use my platform to advance many other small business owners by carrying their product in my shop.  The entrepreneurial spirit in our community is abundant and I give back to my community by giving donations and helping as many people as I can,” she said.

Lori knows no matter someone’s background, that with focus and hard work it is possible to go to college, graduate, and have a successful career. As she knows there are unfortunately others living in difficult situations, as she once did, Lori shares a special message.

“Any time you spend on things that you cannot change, for example, the past, the less energy you have to accomplish your goals. I recommend having a strong relationship with yourself. Be honest about all aspect of your life so you can change what you need to change. You can do anything,” Lori said. “The bottom line is, the hard times in my life gave me the strength to keep moving forward when things got tough. My message is, anyone who comes from abuse, poverty and low self-esteem should know that they can achieve anything they set their mind to. Every day learn what you need to learn and keep pushing forward.”

2020 - Weston and Tenise Chapman 

Weston Chapman Automotive Technician AAS Degree 2004

Tenise Chapman Business Management & Marketing AAS Degree 2005

What good is living the life you have been given when all you do is stand in one place?

This is a motto Weston and Tenise Chapman live by and this motto has been the inspiration in their new adventure. Starting Black Hills Tire in 2018 was a dream the Chapman’s had been seeking for half their lives. Their goal is for their business to become the number one recommended tire and

automotive service facility in the Black Hills area - one car, one customer, one opportunity at a time. This dream was instilled in Weston and Tenise many years ago.

Tenise’s grandparents owned and operated a service station in North Dakota for 40+ years. She has fond memories of playing cards with her Grandpa Vern between customers, as well as riding in the bulk truck delivering fuel to local ranchers.

Weston’s parents have owned their own business for 30+ years. If you are from Western North or South Dakota and needed satellite TV, you have most likely met Blane and Doreen Chapman. From an early age, Weston could be found helping in their store or on the road with his dad installing and delivering TVs and satellite dishes. Growing up in this environment created his sense of how important customer service and honesty is.

As you can see, the Chapman’s dream began many years ago. They aim for Black Hills Tire to be the premier tire and automotive repair store in the Black Hills area. The Chapmans look forward to their business becoming an asset to their community and a place of employee pride. Weston and Tenise are great examples of what people can do with a technical education, shared commitment, vision, and hard work. Together they have established a very successful business, where they provide the highest standard of customer care and service in a community they take pride in and give back to.

2019 - Shawn Gab

Shawn Gab graduated from Western Dakota Tech in 1997 with a degree in Computer-Aided Drafting: Architectural. He was recruited by the Boeing aircraft company and became a Design Engineer at their Wichita, Kan., campus. In 2001, he returned to his hometown of Rapid City, S.D., and began designing and manufacturing electrical device. He is the owner of Tri-Tech Manufacturing, Inc., and is once again producing products for aerospace customers.

As an engaged citizen of Rapid City, Shawn enjoys giving back to his community and has served on numerous organizational boards. He is currently Chair of the Western Dakota Tech Foundation and is on the Western Dakota Tech Industrial Advisory Board. Shawn also serves on the Rapid City Regional Airport Board and the Youth and Family Services Board, is a member of Pennington County Search & Rescue, and is a volunteer pilot for Angel Flight Central.

2018 - Dan Cahoy

Dan Cahoy graduated from Western Dakota in 2010 with an associate’s degree in Business Management and marketing. After graduation, he worked as a marketing director for a real estate firm in Rapid City. In 2011, Dan moved back to his hometown, Bonesteel, South Dakota, to reopen the family-owned grocery store. In 2012, he received an opportunity to work at First Fidelity Bank as Branch Manager. In 2017, he resigned from the back to pursue his passion for the grocery business and purchased a second grocery store in Lake Andes, South Dakota. In 2018, the opportunity to purchase another grocery store in Tyndall, South Dakota, came up. Both Lake Andes and Tyndall’s only grocery stores had closed prior to Dan purchasing them and he felt there was a need for a grocery store in those communities; as a grocery store is key to keeping small communities alive. He currently employs 29 employees in these communities.

Dan and his wife, Trisha, have two beautiful girls, Brielle (4) and Bridget (2). His family plays a major role in the family business. His father and mother-in-law also work as managers at his stores. Dan is involved in many groups and organizations in the community, some of which include: Bonesteel Commercial Club President, Bonesteel Area Community Development Board Member, Parish Council, Member, and Make-A-Wish Granter.

2017 - John Phelps

John Phelps, from Rapid City, S.D., graduated from Western Dakota Tech in 2012 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Business Management and Marketing. In pursuit of his career goals, John started college at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minn., in July 2014 and graduation in December 2016 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation & Sports Management – having never missed a class. Upon graduation, John joined the Peoria Chiefs Front Office Staff in January 2017, in Peoria, Illinois, where he is currently employed as an Inside Sales Representative. (The Chiefs are the Class A Affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals Major League Baseball team.) Before joining the Chiefs organization, John was a Game Day Operations Intern with the Sioux Falls Canaries Baseball Club, in Sioux Falls, S.D., and worked in the St. Cloud State University Athletic Department as a Marketing and Promotions Assistant. Additionally, John has served as a Media Relations Volunteer for the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Frozen Faceoff, in Minneapolis, Minn.

John’s parents, Doug and Terri Phelps, will be accepting the award on John’s behalf.

2016 - Jennifer Bunge

Jennifer stands at the forefront of the fastest, much sought after medical careers. She has spend the past five years as a cardiovascular surgical technologist at Rapid City Regional Hospital, one of the highest-rated performing hospitals in the nation.

Throughout her five-year tenure with Rapid City Regional, Jennifer has built a reputation for handling surgical procedures with efficiency and accuracy and under sterile conditions. Her ability to work long hours and handle pressure situations with sound judgement has made Jennifer a good team member among the cardiovascular surgeons.

Jennifer is a 2011 graduate of Western Dakota Tech’s Surgical Technology program and gained her clinical experience at the Billings Montana Clinic.

Jennifer plans to fast track her medical career by attending Meridian Medical School to obtain her First Assistant degree this summer.

Jennifer is a lifelong resident of Rapid City and is married with one substitute child, her dog Maisy. Jennifer enjoys travel and all outdoor activities.


Archive
Alumni Feature- Scott Hall, Class of 2001
Electrical Trades

Role Today

Division Manager for Muth Electric, Inc. in Rapid City.

Scott started as an apprentice with Muth Electric, Inc. in the Rapid City Division in 2001 after graduating from the Electrician/Industrial Electronics program at Western Dakota Technical Institute. Shortly after obtaining his Journeyworker license, Scott became a Project Superintendent and grew in his capabilities at Muth Electric, Inc.

Story 

After graduation, I was hired on with Muth Electric, Inc. as an apprentice electrician and was fortunate to get some great mentors early on in my career.  With the help of my mentors and a great work ethic that I learned from my parents and grandparents, I was not afraid of taking on anything that was thrown my way.  I passed my Journeyman Exam and became a superintendent right after.  I was a superintendent for 10 years running all different kinds of construction projects.  In 2015 I became the project manager and held that position for 3years.  In 2018 I became Division Manager running the day-to-day operations of our Rapid City Branch and managing some projects which I am still doing that today.

WDT Experience

I chose WDT because of the location in the Black Hills.  Also, because I had a great tour of the facility with one of the instructors at the time.  He got me excited about a career in the Electrical field.  I chose to be in the electrical field because I grew up on a farm and would watch my Grandpa “try” to do electrical work.  So, I thought that would be interesting and a handy skill to offer to the farm. I had great instructors while at WDT that kept me motivated and excited about becoming an Electrician. 

Paying it Forward

Currently, I am serving on the WDT Electrical Trades Advisory Board and on the WDT Foundation Board.  I also serve as committee chair of the Alumni Committee with the Foundation. I am excited to be on both boards and be involved with the future of Western Dakota Technical College.

Encouragement

I had a great experience at WDT, and it set me up for success. I have found that, if you work hard and show initiative you will find people who are willing to teach you and help you along the way. 


Spotlight Archive

Dale Ruhoff - Welding and Fabrication, class of 2018

Role Today

Dale Ruhoff is a welding instructor at Oelrichs High School where he teaches three classes, Intro to Manufacturing for middle school students, Welding I, and Welding II.

Story

My WDT story begins when I am a sophomore at Hot Springs High School, where I just transferred back from South Beauregard High School in Louisiana. I visited with the school counselor to go over my schedule and was asked if I would like to take Welding I. Before this point, I had never taken welding before, but I was willing to learn something new. Little did I know that I would grow to love welding and make a career out of it. I would later take some sort of welding class throughout high school because it was a place for me to relax and focus. 

It was my senior year of high school, and I did not have a clue as to which college or vocational school I should go to. My welding instructor (Jonas Weiss) encouraged me to apply at Western Dakota Tech for Welding and Fabrication and to apply for the Build Dakota Scholarship - and that is exactly what I did. WDT accepted my application and I later found out that I was a recipient of the Build Dakota Scholarship and was set to begin classes in the fall of 2016. 

In the two years that I was at WDT, I remained on the Dean's List every semester. I tried so hard because I was in classes I loved taking. I do not know how Michael Prugh and Troy Barry teach so well, but I learned as much as I could from them and they made it a memorable experience. After graduation, I was offered a job from Oelrichs High School to be a welding instructor. At first, I wanted to say no and continue looking for a full-time welding career, but it took me a couple of weeks to accept the job. I went through the SD Department of Education to obtain my alternative teaching certification and now in my third year of teaching, I have my CTE teaching certification as a welding instructor.  

Paying it Forward

I feel that I am giving back to WDT and the community by teaching the next generations of welders. The knowledge I gained from WDT is helping me teach young adults a life skill they can take anywhere. When I prepare my students for post-secondary schooling, I try to encourage students into going into trade schools instead of a traditional four-year college.

Encouragement

If you can, apply for the Build Dakota Scholarship, after that, apply for every scholarship you can. Take things one step at a time, focus on yourself, and most importantly always drink water. 

Jeremy Anderson - Electronic Technology & Industrial Electronics, class of 1998

Role Today

Jeremy Anderson is a Technology Advisor with Marco Technologies.  In his role, he helps organizations navigate the complex world of Information Technology to determine the right technology solutions with a focus on IT security that contributes to their success.

Story

Jeremy grew up in Rapid City South Dakota and has always had an interest in anything technology. He received two degrees from Western Dakota Tech, one in Electronic Technology and the other in Industrial Electronics.  Jeremy had a great start with technology from an early age focusing on computer programming when he was in middle school and was “self- taught” in basic computer      programming on a Commodore 64.

Anything electronics – Jeremy’s love for technology and electronics grew as he would disassemble, repair and re-assemble any electronic devices that he could get his hands on.  In his teen years he began configuring and installing car audio systems for himself and friends. This naturally progressed into moving to higher education in the electronics arena.

WDT Experience

Western Dakota Tech was a natural transition for Jeremy from High School to higher learning.  “The atmosphere at WDT is one that facilitates a great learning experience. The instructors have a sincere interest in student success, have a strong drive in sharing their knowledge to help create a gainful and effective learning environment.  Throughout my journey with WDT, I was always met with encouragement and had the feeling that I had complete support the whole way through.”

“I would say my experience can be summed up in the following sentence: Tell me and I may forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand... a true understanding is what I gained from Western Dakota Tech.

Paying it Forward

Jeremy believes that it is important to “pay it forward” and has been giving back to our community in a variety of different ways.  He has been a mentor for the Rapid Acceleration High School robotics team for 3 years, is a Leadership Rapid City Class of 2019 graduate, serves on the Alumni Committee for the WDT Foundation, participates in various events such as food drives and other volunteer opportunities when needed.

Encouragement

“I believe, the foundation for future prosperity is built on the bedrock of good jobs and great schools... building a strong foundation one job at a time and one educated South Dakotan at a time.”

“Pursue your passion and you will never work a day in your life!”

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