Sisseton Wahpeton Celebrates 20 YearsNov 15th, 1999 | By tcj | Category: 11-2: Teacher Education, Tribal College News
Sisseton Wahpeton Community College (SWCC) celebrated its 20th anniversary last summer. The college was chartered by the Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe in August 1979 with the unique mission of providing post-secondary education for members of the Lake Traverse Reservation. The college was first accredited by the North Central Association in 1990. The college’s accreditation was renewed last spring for seven years.
Over 450 people have graduated from the college, according to College President Elden Lawrence. Lawrence, a tribal member, is one of the college’s success stories. After dropping out of school in the ninth grade, he started at the college as an adult in 1981. Now he is working on a doctoral program at South Dakota State University.
Educational programs have expanded gradually over its history. The college now offers 13 associate degrees and 4 certificate programs. The college provides other services for the community, including a library, tribal archives, welfare reform training, adult basic education, and career counseling. The college prides itself on its Dakota studies program. Dakota language, Dakota history, and Dakota culture are required for graduation. The college is developing a CD-ROM and a textbook on Dakota studies. The president teaches history himself and conducts a tour of the tribal homelands in Minnesota. The Dakota studies department will be housed in the cultural center, which the college is building with the help of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, the American Indian College Fund, and donations from log home and other private businesses.
The college is also proud of its nursing program. Susan Hardin Palmer, SWCC director of nursing, said that 100 students have graduated from the program since it began in 1992. Of those, 69 are currently registered nurses, according to an article in the Sisseton Courier.
To meet the needs of students with children, the college is opening a daycare center, which also will provide experience for students who are studying early childhood education. Eventually, the college plans to offer baccalaureate degrees in Dakota Studies, elementary education, nursing, and in liberal studies, according to the college vision statement. “Those students who graduate from the Sisseton Wahpeton Community College will be able to stand on a firmer foundation of culture. They will know who they are, but also be prepared to live in the next millennium,” the vision statement says.