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Western Dakota Tech Announces Outstanding Student Award Winners

RAPID CITY, SD - Western Dakota Tech Outstanding Graduates and a South Dakota SkillsUSA winner were honored during a Student Awards Banquet, in the college's new Event Center, May 5. The awards banquet recognizes exceptional students in a variety of capacities.

Nineteen students received the Outstanding Graduate Award for their program. Students are chosen for this award by instructors in their program area based on criteria including academic achievement and organizational, communication and leadership skills.

Program award winners and their home towns are:
  • Jenny Van Bockel, Accounting, Pierre
  • Matthew Kerney, Business Management and Marketing, Saint Onge
  • Stephanie Bussiere, Computer-Aided Drafting, Spearfish
  • Echo Bauer, Criminal Justice, Saint Onge
  • Rebecca Kessler, Dental Assisting, Rapid City
  • Zachary Barrett, Electrical Trades, Rapid City
  • Alexander Aadland, Environmental Engineering Tech, Rapid City
  • Bailey Reitz, Fire Science, Rapid City
  • Blayne Kennedy, Health Information Management, Rapid City
  • Cash Jones, HVAC/Refrigeration Technology, Spearfish
  • CarLee Harris, Law Enforcement Technology, Rapid City
  • Michelle Porter, Library Technician, Rapid City
  • Ethan Esposti, Paramedic, Keystone
  • Tierra Rodocker, Phlebotomy/Lab Assistant, Rapid City
  • Sara Garreau, Practical Nursing, Rapid City
  • Amanda Poste, Practical Nursing, Rapid City
  • Brandy Kaiser, Surgical Technology, Rapid City
  • Shane Lutz, Transportation Technology- Heavy Duty, Faith
  • Benjamin Ovre, Transportation Technology - Light Duty, Rapid City
Exemplary Law Enforcement Technology student CarLee Harris also received the Jason Burggraff Award. Burggraff was a member of the Law Enforcement Class of 1997 who died in a motorcycle accident on April 1, 1996. The Jason Burggraff award was developed in memory of Jason. The recipient is chosen by second year Law Enforcement students each year and is someone who students believe is a class leader and will do well in the Law Enforcement career field.

Isaac Utterback, first-year Transportation Technology - Heavy Duty student who recently placed first at the South Dakota SkillsUSA contest, received the SkillsUSA National Qualifier Award. Utterback, of Sigourney, Iowa, will compete in the upcoming national SkillsUSA competition in Louisville, Ky., this June.

About Western Dakota Tech

Western Dakota Tech was established in 1968 and is the only technical college that serves the western South Dakota region.

Western Dakota Tech offers programs in a variety of fields, including Business and Computers, Construction and Manufacturing, Energy and Environmental Technologies, Health Sciences, Legal and Public Services, and Transportation Technologies.

More than 86 percent of Western Dakota Tech's most recent graduates are working, continuing their education, or are enlisted in the military.

Western Dakota Tech 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, Western Dakota Tech students graduate ready to make a real and immediate contribution to their employers and to their communities.

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

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