Please tell us about yourself.
I am from a small town in North Dakota called Rugby, which is about an hour away from the reservation I am from (Turtle Mountain/Belcourt, N.D.). I am a proud Anishinaabe and Alutiiq. I am currently a sophomore at Concordia studying to be an English/language arts teacher with a minor in psychology. In my free time, I really love being outdoors, reading, and being surrounded by family and friends.
Why did you choose Concordia?
I had actually toured a couple of colleges before Concordia, but the instant I stepped foot on campus I knew that this was where I wanted to go. The main aspect of why I liked Concordia was for the size — the community. I have formed so many various connections because of the community here on campus. I also didn’t want to be in a classroom full of 200+ people where my professor would only know me by a number for attendance. It was important to me to have that one-on-one connection with my professors.
What activities are you involved in?
What advice would you give to a student considering Concordia?
My advice to them would be to ask themselves what they are looking for in a college/education and if Concordia meets those expectations — from the size of campus to the credits needed for your major, etc. It is better to set yourself up reaching for your goals and feeling successful than stressed and buried under your coursework.
Please tell us about your Pivotal Experience in Applied Knowledge (PEAK) opportunity that was funded by a Mellon Foundation grant.
This past summer (2021), I had an internship through PEAK with the Indian Education Program in Fargo/West Fargo. I worked with Melody Staebner and Darlene Boyle (the coordinator and program assistant) for six weeks. My duties while interning were to shadow Melody and Darlene, track how many hours they put into each activity/task, and assist them in anything that they needed. I had the opportunity to sit in on meetings, help gather food/resources and deliver them to families, attend events, and more.
Did anything about your internship with the Indian Education Program surprise you?
There were two things that surprised me the most. The first is that many people in the Fargo-Moorhead area don’t know the Indian Education Program exists. The second is just how much Melody and Darlene do for the community.
The many hours, resources, researching, and planning that goes into what they do on a daily basis is incredible and yet some people don’t even know that their program exists. Or if they do know about the program, they don’t realize just how much effort and time is involved with each activity, event, meeting, etc. This is very unfortunate because I got to know Melody and Darlene personally and saw how much passion, determination, empathy, and care they have for what they do and helping the Indigenous community in Fargo/West Fargo.
How do you feel that your Concordia education has empowered you to help the future generation to spark change?
The opportunity that Concordia has given me to have been able to shadow the Indian Education Program has been a pivotal experience in my life. It has only solidified and inspired me to keep following and achieving my goals. For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to teach and during high school I knew I wanted to teach Indigenous youth. I aspire to make close connections with my students that will motivate them to prosper in life. I want to help them succeed. I want to be there for them when they may have no one. I want to watch that light bulb go off in their mind when they are learning. I want to play a smaller role in the greater picture of their life. I want the future generation to prove everyone wrong. I want the future generation to prosper. I want the future generation to take the world by their hands. I want the future generation to spark change. The future is Indigenous.
Jennifer Zachmeier Photography
November is Native American Heritage Month. Do you have any plans to celebrate?
Yes! I usually celebrate Native American Heritage Month with my family so, when I go home for break, we celebrate together. We make a big dinner with boulettes, fry bread or Nimaamaa’s (my mom’s) famous gullet, and sometimes Indian tacos. Our form of celebration is just being together as a family, eating, laughing, telling stories, and knowing that we are all there with each other at that moment. But when I am not home celebrating with them, I watch one of my family’s favorite Native American movies, “Smoke Signals.” It’s a classic that I remember my parents watching when I was just a baby. I actually think we still have the VHS version of it. I usually watch that while beading some type of jewelry or reading one of Louise Erdrich’s books.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
No, chi-miigwech! (Thank you!)
Published November 2021