SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Throughout the years, the campus on North Career Avenue has seen a few transitions from the University Center to the Community College of Sioux Falls.

This past summer, it became a satellite campus for the University of South Dakota, offering a new path for higher education in Sioux Falls.

Not every student seeking a higher education wants to take the traditional path of leaving home and living on campus.

“I did want to be a Coyote, but I didn’t want to be commuting,” Merari Rivera, a sophomore majoring in health science,” said.

The goal of the University of South Dakota-Sioux Falls is to meet those students where they are so they have the resources they need to earn a degree.

“Our students are located here in Sioux Falls or the region; they have work commitments or family commitments or, in some case, working adults, full-time working or returning adult learners who wouldn’t have ever made that transition to a traditional campus that Vermillion has,” Jay Perry, Vice-President of USD-Sioux Falls, said.

“It’s very nice like being at home. Growing up on a farm, I get to stay with all my animals and so it’s kind of like relaxing going home to my family and having that support system,” nursing school student Elizabeth Carda said.

Another hope is that offering a different path towards education will help bridge the gaps of workforce shortages — specifically in health care.

“We think and we hope, by expanding the pool of people that want to do this, we can train them, they’ll be excellent and they can go out into the communities and provide the health care that we’re needing,” Tim Ridgway, Vice-President for Health Affairs and Dean of USD Sanford School of Medicine, said.

Plus, the Sioux Falls campus is only thirteen minutes away from the USD Sanford School of Medicine.

“When I was down in Vermillion, we had to commute to Sioux Falls clinicals and that was kind of annoying at some points just because we had to wake up at like 4:30 in the morning in order to get there in time at 7:30,” Carda said. “But it is pretty nice to have more opportunities, like say for the summer I don’t have to move back and forth. I can just jump into a job that might eventually help me with where I want to be in the future.”

“We have literally built a simulated operating room, post operative care unit where these students actually can simulate being in an actual O.R., running these individual situations and case scenarios. And it just prepares them so much more for when they’re actually in that hospital taking care of these patients,” Ridgway said.

But health care degrees aren’t the only options at USD-Sioux Falls.

“And we’re working on some other things in the future too but we also have other high-demand-in-the-area programs in business, we’re adding elementary education to help improve the teacher shortage in Sioux Falls,” Perry said.

And once the USD Discovery District is ready to go, students will have even more opportunities right next door to campus.

“We’re going to have students here on this site that everyday will be interacting with cutting edge scientists and entrepreneurs who are working in biomedical fields, that have access to internships, have access to clinical placements, have access to things that would be hard to replicate anywhere else in the state but at this site,” Perry said. “So as the Discovery District grows, we’re going to grow with them and grow together and I think that’s going to be a powerful combinations.”

So while USD-Sioux Falls is still new to the community ….

“It’s been a great year. We’re really excited to have the USD name behind what we’re doing here in Sioux Falls. We’ve spent a lot of time just marketing to let people know that our presence here, that we are a part of USD, that we are in Sioux Falls, that we are available for students,” Perry said.

The future is bright for this new education option.

“I think it’d be great if USD kind of opened more venues for more students to come in and have more classes,” Rivera said.

“We’re in this for the long haul and so you don’t grow rapidly in higher education, you just try to grow steadily and so what I get really excited about is thinking about what this site looks like ten years down the road and what this site ten years down the road can do for the entire Sioux Falls region,” Perry said.

Tuition at USD-Sioux Falls is the same as if you are on campus in Vermillion, but without the housing and food service costs. Perry says they are already seeing more student applications than last year coming in for the Fall semester.