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Phlebotomy student shares her UpSkill experience

“Restaurants are always going to be there but that’s not guaranteed, this is a position I can travel with. I can do other things with. I can eventually be able to extend my education out and go into bigger and better things into this education. This for me I think is just a stepping stone to my future.”
Earlier this year, Governor Kristi Noem created UpSkill, a program to help those displaced by...
Earlier this year, Governor Kristi Noem created UpSkill, a program to help those displaced by COVID-19 and looking to pursue a certificate in a high-demand field. The state’s four technical colleges offered 22 of those certificate programs. Western Dakota Technical College offered three high-demand programs: plumbing, EMT, and phlebotomy.(Miranda O'Bryan)
Published: Dec. 8, 2020 at 4:11 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Earlier this year, Governor Kristi Noem created UpSkill, a program to help those displaced by COVID-19 and looking to pursue a certificate in a high-demand field. The state’s four technical colleges offered 22 of those certificate programs.

Western Dakota Technical College offered three high-demand programs: plumbing, EMT, and phlebotomy. Each of which were fit into one semester.

“It is quick, and it is kind of an intense semester for these students,” said Nora Leinen, WDT assistant director for enrollment and off sight services. “We’re hoping that if it is really focusing on students who were displaced via the pandemic, that we can work with them to really focus on getting the certificates so that within that short amount of time, they’re really entering right back into the workforce.”

One student in the UpSkill program has been out of school for 30 years but being displaced because of the pandemic actually gave her an opportunity to pursue a career she’s always dreamed of.

“It’s been a new experience for me. I haven’t been in school for a long time,” said Malekia Richardson, UpSkill phlebotomy student. ”I had 18 credits to do and it was consistent. There was no slacking off, it was all about studying, learning your work, learning your terminologies.”

Richardson, who is studying phlebotomy, said it wasn’t an easy semester but seeing the finish line feels great.

“I hear everybody else saying ‘I went to school for a year, I went to school for a year and a half’. I have people in my class now that are going to school again next semester and I’m like ‘woo, I’ve got 12 days left, I’m so excited’. They were like ‘how’d you do that’, it was all with the UpSkills program,” said Richardson.

Before the pandemic, Richardson worked in customer and food services and now is looking forward to a health-related career.

“Restaurants are always going to be there but that’s not guaranteed, this is a position I can travel with. I can do other things with,” said Rishardson. “I can eventually be able to extend my education out and go into bigger and better things into this education. This for me I think is just a stepping stone to my future.”

UpSkill is continuing for the Spring semester with phlebotomy and EMT, and the deadline for applying closes soon.

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