Avera, Dakota Wesleyan University Announce Sponsorship Program

MITCHELL, SD – Avera Health and Dakota Wesleyan University (DWU) are pleased to announce a new education funding program to support nursing workforce needs in the region.

Through the Avera Achieve Sponsorship Program, Avera will support selected sophomore DWU nursing students with $20,000 in education funding for their junior and senior years as long as they successfully complete their studies and commit to working as nurses at Avera for three years following graduation.

The first cohort of six were announced at a press conference held on the DWU campus on Tuesday. Student recipients include:

  • Tessa Kilber, Ipswich
  • Nora Nelson, Rapid City
  • Elisabeth Ortiz, Sturgis
  • Jasmine Salcido-Santos, Mitchell
  • Connor Tapia, Tea
  • Alexis Tilton, Mitchell

“DWU has been a wonderful partner in educating and training nurses to meet the needs of our region. This is an opportunity to assist these students and to help them grow in their profession while addressing our need for more professional caregivers,” said Doug Ekeren, Regional President and CEO of Avera Sacred Heart Hospital in Yankton and Avera Queen of Peace Hospital in Mitchell. “Avera provides a great environment for both new and experienced nurses in a wide array of specialty areas. The organization strives to support its employees and to be the employer of choice in the communities we serve. I’m excited for these students to experience all that Avera has to offer.”

Dakota Wesleyan and Avera have been natural partners and collaborators in many efforts, especially in development of future workforce.

“The Avera Achieve Sponsorship is exactly what Dakota Wesleyan and our region need right now,” said DWU President Dan Kittle. “This is a wonderful example of how DWU works to partner with local businesses and organizations to meet the employment needs of our state. The ability to provide much needed financial support for nursing students, along with the benefit of guaranteed employment after graduation, will ensure that Avera will continue to offer high quality health care delivered through nursing excellence. We are looking forward to following the first cohort of 2024 graduates who will be sponsored through this program.”

DWU and Avera have a long history of partnership. In addition to the many clinical experiences in which students in health programs may participate, the health system also has visibility on the campus. The DWU/Avera Sports and Wellness Complex opened in 2016, and Avera Queen of Peace helped fund completion of the Corrigan Health Sciences Center in 2013.

“Avera is proud to employ many Dakota Wesleyan graduates. They have contributed much to our health care ministry, and we are excited to see that continue,” Ekeren said. “We also look forward to building relationships with these talented students as they begin their academic journey and progress into their careers.”

The Avera Achieve Sponsorship is only available to DWU nursing students who have completed their first two years of the four-year curriculum. To learn more about enrolling in the Nursing program at Dakota Wesleyan University, call the Admissions office at 605-995-2650.