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Coyote Career Kickstart Supplies Opportunities for Rural Students

USD’s Coyote Career Kickstart has implemented a new service for students from rural communities, thanks to a three-year, one million dollar grant from the US Department of Education. 

Launched three years ago, the Coyote Career Kickstart program aimed to support USD students with work experiences. Initially, the program focused on USD students who were first generation college students or Pell Grant recipients.

 However, in recent years, the Kickstart has adapted to involve students who graduated from rural high schools – designated as such by the National Center for Education Statistics. 

Coyote Career Kickstart’s current main goal is to experiment campus wide and bring in more applicants within the new year. Ongoing efforts include workshops and peer mentoring. 

Carol Voss-Ward, the Coyote Career Kickstar’s coordinator, said their goal is to experiment with different ways to help these students. 

She stated, “Right now we’re trying some different things, and we’ll see how they go and tweak them. Since it’s a pilot program it’s kind of our mission… Our recruiter is going to be working with the community, some rural communities to help develop some career ready opportunities for students.” 

The Academic and Career Planning Center and other offices across campus offer similar career services, but Voss-Ward said there was a strong desire to extend services to all students. 

“We got this federal funding… to do things to help students in rural communities and broaden horizons, so we can offer more things across campus… like money or opportunities to try other things that [members] wouldn’t have tried otherwise,” Voss-Ward said. “It would be super helpful if we have a bigger broader network of internships for all students instead of students in one particular major or college.” 

In previous years, the Coyote Career Kickstart balanced between 25 to 30 students. This year, they are supporting 73 freshman students in the Coyote Career Kickstart First-Year Experience and peer-mentoring program. Additionally, nine students have been paired with USD alumni mentors, while six kickstart students are serving as peer mentors themselves.

Voss-Ward assured that students who already joined Kickstart will still receive services. “We are continuing to offer services that were promised to the first two cohorts of Kickstart participants” Voss-Ward said. 

These include being paired with an alumni mentor as well as being able to take courses focused on career readiness and financial literacy. 

Prospective students can submit applications to join the Coyote Career Kickstart. Currently, applicants to the Coyote Career Kickstart can take career related courses and workshops and help internships for the summer. 

For further information, visit to Coyote Career Kickstart’s web page at https://www.usd.edu/Admissions-and-Aid/Financial-Aid/Work-Opportunities-for-Students/Coyote-Career-Kickstart or reach out to them via email at [email protected].