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Back to school: New DSU student receives first Bakken U scholarship

Warren Logan's first run at higher education didn't last. He said he struggled with a lack of both discipline and an external push to learn. Compounding his difficulties was the influence of his friends who bypassed higher education for the finan...

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Warren Logan, the first recipient of a Bakken U scholarship and a new DSU student, speaks at a press conference Tuesday while DSU President Mitzel, right, looks on. Logan will receive $5,000 given by the North Dakota Petroleum Council to go towards his education. (Andrew Haffner/The Dickinson Press)

Warren Logan’s first run at higher education didn’t last.

He said he struggled with a lack of both discipline and an external push to learn.

Compounding his difficulties was the influence of his friends who bypassed higher education for the financial opportunity of oilfield work.

“My high school friends that didn’t go to college went straight to work in the Oil Patch and would drop by and show off their newest toys,” Logan recalled, “and that led me from school. ... My immaturity and lust for money and property overshadowed college.”

Logan, now 28, left the University of Wyoming in search of oilfield work and eventually joined the staff of National Oilwell Varco.

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In time, he rose through the ranks at NOV to become a district manager for oilfield services and settled in Dickinson. Here, he learned of the Bakken U program through DSU’s website and applied for the scholarship, funded by the North Dakota Petroleum Council, on a whim.

He found out last Thursday that he had been selected as the program’s first awardee and, less than a week later, Logan received $5,000 from the North Dakota University System program at a Tuesday press conference at DSU’s Student Center.

Logan came to Dickinson a few years ago with his wife and their three young children, who span ages from 1 to 5 years old, through a company relocation package.

He is a member of the Northern Arapaho tribe and grew up on Wyoming’s Wind River Indian Reservation, where he realized he “had to improve my life, and to do that, I would have to attend college or get a high-paying job.”

Jerry Rostad, assistant chief information officer for core technology services at the NDUS, said at the press conference that Bakken U -- which is intended to attract both employed and laid-off oilfield workers and their spouses -- had received 30 applications total in its first round.

Of those 30, Rostad said nearly 50 percent of applicants had been in North Dakota for five years or less and about 50 percent were directly employed by an oil company.

About 30 percent of the applicants were spouses of oil workers, he added, and all but five of the applicants had some experience in higher education.

“They got out of high school, they took a few courses, and then life experiences happened and they ended up working in the oil industry,” Rostad said.  

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DSU President Tom Mitzel described Bakken U as “very much in alignment with the vision of DSU,” and said his university believed so strongly in the program’s aims that it was in the process of establishing a similar iteration of its own.

“I want to announce that we have looked to begin our own program to provide scholarships to those students who would look to enroll in Bakken U,” Mitzel said. “We’re hoping to have our program up and running by next fall.”

He began his first semester at DSU on Tuesday evening, taking the initial steps toward the goal of earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration, the same degree he hoped to pursue at Wyoming.before defecting to oilfield work.

He will be working full time while also maintaining full-time student status. He’ll be completing his courses remotely to fit them around his career obligations.

Logan said receiving the scholarship was “definitely overwhelming” and a “humbling experience.”

“The thing I’m most impressed by is the Petroleum Council, the NDUS and the state of North Dakota putting a strong foot forward saying, “We want you here, we want you to stay here,” Logan said. “ … Any downturn, for any different industry -- that’s a good time to improve yourself. There’s no time better than the present.”

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