WAYNE, Neb. -- The Wayne State Career Scholars program recently celebrated one of its top students and recognized one of its business partners for its support of the College’s cooperative education program.

The first event, a mixer for 159 students in the program’s three cohorts, honored Abbie Gardner with the 2021-2022 Excellence in Experiential Learning - Cooperative Education Award. The second event, a Sophomore Parent-Student dinner, presented the 2021-2022 Employer of the Year - Cooperative Education Award to Midwest Bank.

This year, the Wayne State Career Services office implemented a recognition program called "Cat Tracks Signature Awards". The awards are designed to recognize outstanding students, faculty, staff and employers for their commitment to promoting the career readiness and experiential learning of WSC students, school officials said.

The first all-cohort connection brought all three cohorts together to mix, meet and learn. The junior class presented members of the incoming freshman class with their Career Scholars Challenge Coin and co-op T-shirt, to signify a sense of belonging and unity within the program, cohort, and among their peers.

Gardner was selected for her leadership and activities in the Growing Together Career Scholars program. She is the president of the Wayne State Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO) Chapter. Gardner is an ambassador for the co-op program, a mentor to incoming freshmen, and a role model for experiential learning. She completed an experiential learning internship with Norfolk Iron & Metal during the summer and continues to work there part-time in finance. 

The annual Career Scholars Sophomore Parent-Student dinner was an opportunity to bring together parents, community leaders, and Wayne State leadership to recognize the class, celebrate the program’s wins, and provide an update on the program and curriculum, school officials said. 

Midwest Bank was selected for its contributions made to the Growing Together Career Scholars co-op program, early student engagement, sponsorship of curriculum and events, and recruitment of Wayne State career scholar students for experiential learning. Midwest Bank consistently participates in WSC Career Services campus-wide activities, Wayne State spokesperson Jay Collier said.