By Stephanie Carter

Uintah Basin Technical College (UBTech) Foundation is a 501c3 organization that assists Utah students in changing theireconomic situations by covering the cost of tuition, books, and fees, allowing students the freedom to concentrate on completing their training in over 40 different certificate programs, including welding, electrical technician, construction technology, heavy duty diesel, automation technician, civil drafting technician and energy services.

However, to be successful, the foundation relies on partners from the business community to help them “close the gap” in education for students, especially those in the tribal community. 

Marathon Petroleum, a company with approximately 120 employees in the Uintah Basin with gas gathering and gas processing operations on tribal land, awarded $100,000 to the UBTech Foundation to help Native American students. 

The Ute Tribe subsidizes student tuition and fees for many Native American students but doesn’t cover tuition and fees for all Native American students. Marathon is assisting UBTech to ensure that financial need doesn’t keep these students from realizing their dreams of continuing their education.

“The employees and the leadership of Marathon believe in supporting education,” shared VJ Smith, Stakeholder Engagement Manager for Marathon. “We see the impact education makes.  It’s the right thing to do.”

In the spirit of their partnership, UBTech named the grant donation the Marathon Petroleum Tuition Gap Funding Program. Marathon representatives from Colorado, North Dakota, Texas and Salt Lake City along with Ute Tribe Employment Rights office Ordinance (UTERO) employees traveled to UBTech to celebrate this contribution. 

“UTERO helps tribal members and their descendants with job placement. Marathon asked how they could help, and I suggested they have a scholarship with UBTech,” added Sheila Wopsock, Director of UTERO.

“Scholarships like these help me pay my tuition and buy books,” shares UBTech Student of the Year, Valirie Serawop and a Ute Tribe student enrolled in the Administrative Assistant program. “It helps me reach my goals. And as we are examples in furthering our education, we build stronger communities.” 

The strategic partnership provides future opportunities for Native American graduates of UBTech to seek employment with Marathon. 

“We look forward to seeing UBTech graduates,” said Mike Hutton, Marathon Area Manager of Operations. “We look to UBTech as a key resource for recruitment.”

Marathon constantly seeks to expand and increase its workforce. Please visit Marathon’s website at to learn more about careers at Marathon

For more information on how to enroll at UBTech and apply for this scholarship, please visit

Marathon Petroleum donates $100,000 benfefiiting Native American students at UBTech. Pictured above includes Marathon Petroleum representatives, UBTech representatives,and representatives from the Ute Tribe Employment Rights office Ordinance (UTERO) coming together to celebrate the partnershuips and collaboration.