ALUMNI | January Tobacco '13

Stanford scholar and aspiring law student

"Red Cloud also helped me with scholarships and applying for them. If it wasn’t for Red Cloud I wouldn’t have found out about Stanford or even what an Ivy league school is."

January Tobacco ‘13 graduated as valedictorian from Red Cloud High School and has continued to thrive in her studies at Stanford University. She is about to start her third year and will be the Ethnic Theme Associate at the Native Theme house Muwekma-Tah-Ruk. January's excitement was visible as she prepared for the busy school year ahead.


Q&A with January Tobacco '13

What was it like to move all the way to California for college?

At first it was hard. It was a really big adjustment going from the poorest county in the U.S to the basically the richest. It was a dramatic change. It’s hard being away from home and getting my own footing in the world. I just flew out to California even though I had never visited Stanford before. I’ve been having to find my way in this world. I think one thing that really helped me was the Native community on campus and the support I received from them. Also, I got involved in a lot of different things on campus.

Like what sort of things do you focus your time on?

I’m part of the Stanford American Indian Organization, last year I was the financial officer and this year I will be Stanford Pow Wow co-chair. I also am the Ethnic Theme Associate for the Native house on campus, which means I will be teaching a class in the fall and winter for them. It’s a one unit credit or no credit course. 

Teaching a class? That's fabulous. You must really be enjoying it.

I’ve loved learning about different cultures. At first it was a little overwhelming, not being around many Native cultures on campus. Actually, majoring in Native American Studies, I’m required to take some non-native studies classes and I've learn different things about other cultures and their similarities. Even within the Native cultures we're learning about the over 500 tribes in the nation and how unique they are. 

So this has really informed your field of study, too!

I’m not sure if I will minor in something or double major right now. I didn’t decide on this until the end of freshman year because I didn’t really know what I was going to do, but I was so involved in the Native community. So the professors told me to take some classes and I just fell in love with Native Studies. It worked for me so that’s what I went with.

I hope your foundation from Red Cloud helped as well!

Stanford is so fast-pace since they use a quarter system rather than a semester system, which is a whole semester condensed into 10 weeks, so I would say definitely academically it did. Red Cloud also helped me with scholarships and applying for them. If it wasn’t for Red Cloud I wouldn’t have found out about Stanford or even what an Ivy league school is. They helped me get a great scholarship, and that was a huge help, not having to worry about financial burdens so I can just focus on studying. 

Where does the road lead next?

Right now, tentatively, I would like to go to Colorado law school and be accepted into their Indian Law program. After that, I’m not too sure but I do know I definitely want to come back to the reservation eventually. I would possibly want to work as a judge or superintendent. I could do that for a few years and then do my own thing, like create a camp for girls. I came up with this idea because I see young girls don’t have many people to show them how to become women in society and teach them they can do the same things as men. I would like to have a camp to help these girls grow and learn about all the opportunities they have.


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Photo: © Red Cloud Indian School
last updated: March 28, 2016