Bakken U scholarship winners named

September 12, 2017

Two students attending North Dakota University System institutions have been named as the most-recent recipients of the Bakken U scholarship.


Owen Short, a Dickinson State University (DSU) student and current oil field worker, received a scholarship from the North Dakota University System’s Bakken U initiative, a program developed in 2016 to increase access through decreasing barriers to educational opportunities for individuals, and their dependents, employed in the energy industry in North Dakota.

“Bakken U scholarships originally came as a suggestion from oil country, as to how higher education could help oil field workers and employers in the west,” said North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott. “We responded to both the students and the employers by instituting Bakken U and I am now proud how the campuses in the west can award scholarships. It’s incredible to see this scholarship come to fruition and really have an impact on students’ needs to create an affordable and accessible education to those students who are or have been involved in North Dakota’s oil field.”

Short moved to North Dakota with his family nearly six years ago from Louisiana to find work in the Bakken Shale Formation, and has since made his relocation permanent. To help fund his education, Short is working for Benz Oil while pursuing a degree in English at Dickinson State. After graduation, he plans to enroll within the North Dakota University System to obtain a law degree. “Becoming a lawyer has been a dream of mine since an early age,” said Short. “This aspiration of mine has been fostered by admiring my mother who herself was a lawyer.”

“Through collaborative efforts, Dickinson State University and the Bakken U initiative are providing great opportunities for students in the region to obtain a degree and strengthen components of the energy industry,” said Jennifer Withers, assistant dean of students at DSU.

The Academic Success Center at DSU maintains a Bakken U Student Advisor (BSA) to provide information to potential and current students about academic and student support services available to be successful in and out of the classroom. The BSA promotes student access to a variety of learning services including: connecting with content specific tutors; applying for financial aid and scholarships; connecting with academic advisors; accessing supplemental instruction services; and annual reviews of academic goals and progress.

“We are proud of our mission to serve residents of the region by offering high quality, accessible programs,” said Dr. Carmen Wilson, DSU’s provost and vice president for academic and student affairs. “The services offered through DSU for the Bakken U initiative support those who are impacted by the volatility the of the energy industry while they pursue an education that will serve them throughout their lives.”


Minot State University student Nicole Walther is one of two individuals who was awarded the Bakken U Scholarship for 2017-18, the North Dakota University System announced.

The scholarship is given through donations from the North Dakota Petroleum Council. Dickinson State’s Owen Short was named as the second award winner.

Walther, a Williston native, is currently pursuing a degree in finance. She earned a degree in math in 2012 at MSU and worked for five years for Pilot Thomas Logistics until May 2017 to return to school. During her five years with the company her duties include working with inventory, logistics and customer service. She believes that getting a degree in finance will help her become a more efficient and valuable employee.

“I am hoping with the continuation of my finance degree, I can apply my knowledge of operations to a company that helps balance their needs financially as well as operationally,” Walther said. “I want to be able to take the information I’ve learned in the classroom and utilize it in a functioning form. My dream job is to help establish proper procedures and future planning for companies that works financially, but still helps maintain a strong operational setting.”

This marks the second straight year a Minot State student has earned the Bakken U Scholarship awarded by the NDUS and the North Dakota Petroleum Council in the scholarship’s three-year history.

Along with Walter’s drive to improve her abilities on the job, she indicated a desire to continue to work and live in western North Dakota – and to support the oil industry.

“My family is based out of Williston and I’m proud to say Williston is my home,” she said. “In my family, with my brothers and myself, we are fifth generation workers in the oil field, so it’s not just a job but a way of life. With Williston being a central hub to the oil field, I am hoping to establish myself within a company to grow and make a permanent home.”

Walther is excited to return to Minot State as there is a familiarity with the university and is grateful of the opportunity the Bakken U Scholarship has provided.

“It was extremely nice to come back to Minot State. Old Main is still the same building and I know my way around,” she said. “Getting the Bakken U Scholarship made returning to school and getting a finance degree much more obtainable and will help greatly reduce my financial burden.

The North Dakota University System plans to continue to award scholarships to support energy industry employees and their dependents. More information about the Bakken U initiative can be found at