WILLISTON, N.D. - Stephanie Oyloe considered going back to school a few times. As her son started kindergarten this fall, Oyloe found herself eligible to receive the Williams County Graduate (WCG) Scholarship. She made the decision to join her son and is well on her way to completing her first semester at Williston State.
A single mother, Oyloe attends classes full time and works as a bartender in Williston. Oyloe has been in the restaurant and bar industry since she was old enough to have a job.
"With this scholarship I will be able to get the degree I have always wanted and start a career," Oyloe said. "I will be able to reach a level of stability that I have been striving for, not only for me, but for my son as well."
The scholarship removed the financial burden that discouraged her from going back to school. She planned several times to continue her education but as she said, "Life happens," and college was put off.
"There is this sense of someone else is picking up the tab, and so I can't disappoint. Whereas before, the only person I was letting down by not succeeding was myself," Oyloe explained. "I owe it to this scholarship to be successful."
"I want to be the best example I can be for my son to show him that hard work and dedication pays off," Oyloe added.
Passionate about her career path, Oyloe intends on being a domestic violence advocate. Understanding the struggles of domestic violence, Oyloe praises the support and empowerment provided to her by the women from the local family crisis shelter.
"We need more resources for these victims, more help, and more people to share their experiences and instill hope," Oyloe explained. "I want to be that person, someone who has walked in their shoes and can show them the way out. With this scholarship I can be."
Once Oyloe earns her associate's degree in applied science in mental health/addictions from WSC she intends to transfer to UND and take online classes for a bachelor's degree in psychology.
The opportunity the Alva J. Field trust, the North Dakota Challenge Fund, and the Williston State College Foundation provides is unprecedented. On average each student has already saved $2,817.69 in tuition and fees and $638 in books for the Fall 2015 semester. The overall dollar amount awarded for the WCG Scholarship totaled $1,229,119 as of official fall census day, September 22, 2015.
"Oyle is a great example of what a good scholarship program can do," said Terry Olson, executive director of the WSC Foundation. "In a world where the average student will now leave college after four years with debt of approximately $35,000, something like this makes our Foundation, its board and donors feel pretty good!"
"There are so many people who would jump at the chance to have this blessing handed to them," Oyloe noted. "People who are stuck in terrible environments, who may never be able to get out due to lack of funding for education. It is still hard to believe sometimes that this is really all free to me. My son and I are very lucky."
The WCG Scholarship will continue as long as revenue and earnings continue. Now, thanks to the North Dakota Challenge Fund, personal contributions will go even further. Dr. Raymond Nadolny, president of Williston State College asks anyone thinking of a charitable gift this season to consider this unique opportunity: "For every two dollars donated, the North Dakota Challenge Fund will contribute one dollar." For anyone interested in contributing to the WCG Scholarship please contact the Williston State College Foundation at 701.572.9275.
For more information about the WCG Scholarship please contact WSC at 701.774.4220.
For any information regarding WSC, please visit www.willistonstate.edu,
call 1.888.863.9455, or stop by 1410 University Avenue, Williston, ND.