Red Cloud Student Inspires Classmates to Pursue Higher Education

posted January 10, 2015

In the article below, Bobby '16 explains his motivation for becoming involved in his community and working to inspire his classmates and future generations of students at Red Cloud Indian School and across the reservation. On January 8 and 9, Bobby, a Youth Advisory Board member of Lakota Children's Enrichment, joined the President of Lakota Children's Enrichment (LCE), Maggie Dunne, Red Cloud's IT Director TJ Lynch, Dr. Alicia Mousseau '00, and community members Kiva Sam and Keith Martinez (a fellow LCE Youth Advisory Board member) for an informative panel discussion on setting achievable academic goals and getting the most out of your education. Bobby is a shinning example of empathy and academic determination—we are very proud to cheer him along on his journey.

By Bobby Pourier ' 16

My father has been a teacher for more than fifteen years on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and everyday he faces a startling amount of indifference towards education. When he told me about this I wanted to know why. I wanted to know is why there is apathy towards education, where it comes from, and ultimately, how to change it. This summer I was named a #NCAM Ambassador by Youth Service America and earned a grant to do more service in the community, in my capacity as a Youth Advisory Board member of Lakota Children's Enrichment (LCE). My proposal for further service was to address the indifference towards education on the reservation.

This January, with mentorship and support from LCE, I formed a panel consisting of individuals with inspiring and meaningful messages about the importance of education for students. I wanted to specifically focus on the importance of having a goal and using education as a means of achieving it. This program was funded by LCE, its fiscal partner Running Strong for American Indian Youth and in part by the grant I earned for LCE.

College is a gateway to the jobs that will sustain our families. If we as a people aren’t able to make it to college and finish with a degree, we will continue to be at a disadvantage. It takes an educated community to efficiently grow and succeed. And, the need for education is perhaps greatest here on the reservation because there simply aren’t a lot of other opportunities to be successful, at least not yet. We need to take advantage of of our biggest opportunity, which is to become educated.

Beyond my panel presentation, I think support systems need to be built outside of school at the home. To have some kind of support coming from your home makes a world of difference to a student trying to be successful at school. Unfortunately, not every kid is going to have that support system—such as both sober parents that have jobs—so as a community we need to think about how to support student in other ways. I hope to get this conversation started.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to make my community better and address an issue that I think is very important to today’s youth and tomorrow’s future. In the future I want to go to college and receive my PhD and become an Experimental Psychologist. Ultimately, I want to make a positive impact on future generations of my people and help fix some of the problems that plague my home such as alcoholism and suicide and indifference toward education.

When I am an old man and I see that the generation below me has gone on to higher education and have given back to the community, I will be proud. I want to see that my people are thriving in a modern world. I want to see that we are taking advantage of opportunities that are given to us. I see a bright future for my home.