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WDT to hold Eagle Feather ceremony for Native American graduates

Western Dakota Tech will hold an Eagle Feather Ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 18, in Room ABCD at WDT in Rapid City to honor WDT's Native American graduates.

Approximately 15 native students will receive blessed eagle feathers during the ceremony.

"In Native American culture, it is a great honor to receive an eagle feather," WDT's Special Services coordinator Melanie Garstenshlager said. "It signifies that you have done something great for yourself, your family, or your community. Students have made many sacrifices during their time in school and they are making a better life for themselves and their families."

Native students coming to Rapid City from a reservation town or community have to face numerous challenges, Garstenshlager said.

"They need to adjust to life without their families, which is their main support system," she said. "Also, the adjustment to living independently, managing money, and life in the city can be very overwhelming for most native students."

WDT has services in place to help native students succeed. WDT enrolled 195 native students during the 2012-2013 academic year. Twenty-six native students are scheduled to graduate during commencement, scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

WDT invites the media to the Eagle Feather Ceremony.

Western Dakota Tech is the only technical institute that serves the western South Dakota region. WDT offers more than 30 programs in a variety of fields, including Business and Computers, Construction Trades, Health Services, Legal and Public Services, Manufacturing and Mechanical Trades, and Science and Technology. More than 98 percent of WDT's most recent graduates are working, continuing their education, or serving in the military, and 90 percent remain in South Dakota.

WDT faculty, staff, and administration focus their efforts on helping students gain the skills and experiences they need to succeed. Through hands-on learning, internships, and industry partnerships, WDT students graduate ready to make real and immediate contributions to their employers and their communities.

For information about, call (800) 544-8765 or (605) 718-2565 or send an email to Visit WDT on the web at

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