LEWISTON, Idaho – The Work Scholars program at Lewis-Clark State College, the only one of its kind in Idaho, received strong support from the Idaho State Board of Education when it was first conceived and is now receiving rave reviews from both the students and supervisors involved.
Launched this fall thanks to $209,000 in annual funding from the Idaho Legislature, and modeled after the Work College Consortium, the program pairs high-achieving LCSC students with on-campus jobs with a goal of alleviating the financial burden of higher education. It provides students the opportunity to accrue valuable work experience and professional skills in addition to a degree.
Eleven students (nine of which are shown above) are participating this fall and program administrators say the cohort of students will be bumped to 20 by the spring semester. Students in the program, who are selected based on an extensive set of criteria and must maintain a 3.0 GPA, receive a full tuition scholarship for the academic year and a $750 stipend per semester.
“If it wasn't for the Work Scholars program, then I would not still be in school right now,” said Peter Jensen, a senior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology at LCSC. “The Work Scholars program has allowed me to continue to pursue a very important goal in my life – receiving a bachelor's degree in a subject that not only interests me but excites me as well.”
Supervisors and worksites, also selected based on extensive criteria, are tasked with providing jobs that are meaningful, necessary, and separate from work-study positions already offered. The program requires students to work a minimum of 10 hours per week at their assigned positions while fulfilling their regular class schedules. All students are required to participate in community service projects as well.
“The Work Scholars program is an innovative solution to the age old riddle of ‘how to creatively fund a meaningful education,’” LCSC Technical and Industrial Division professor and position supervisor Rob McDonald said. “It is commendable in that it combines the dual aspects of providing a gratifying work experience for our students, while simultaneously rewarding them with the ability to continue their education.”
Positions in place this semester include a marketing assistant, simulation lab assistant, student housing coordinator, machine shop assistant, Learning Garden coordinator, and peer mentor. Ten positions are housed in departments on campus, while the 11th, an off-campus pilot, is a diesel technology job at a local business.
As the program settles in and additional relationships are formed with area businesses, administrators say more off-campus entities will serve as worksites. Work Scholar applications for the spring semester will be accepted beginning Oct. 12. For more information visit www.lcsc.edu/work-scholars or call 208-792-2084.
“It is a uniquely valuable experience that I’m certain will have a lasting impact on (the students) lives,” McDonald said.