ALUM | Kaylynn Two Bulls, 2007

Jump Start Advisor at South Dakota School of Mines

Kaylynn Two Bulls believes that higher education holds the key to a bright future for her community. Just as teachers at Red Cloud gave Kaylynn the push to believe that college was possible, her role as a Jump Start Advisor at the South Dakota School of Mines gives Native American students there the same confidence to continue their own educations. Kaylynn, inspired by her love for her daughters and her community, has dedicated herself to helping Native American students find their own success in the college setting.

Thanks for talking with us today Kaylynn! I have heard you had a pretty excellent childhood!

I did! I grew up in the Slim Buttes area and was raised in a traditional way, participating in sweats, sun dances, and prayer. I was raised by my grandparents Sam and Feleta Two Bulls on their ranch and my main job as a child was to make bottles for the calves and feed them. It was a peaceful, happy childhood.

That sounds wonderful! Once you were ready for high school, why did your family choose Red Cloud?

Many members of my family had gone to Red Cloud High School and it is known to be one of the better schools on the reservation. Right now, my little brother/cousin, Morgan Two Bulls, is a student and more family members plan to attend. My most vibrant memories as a student were seeing my best friends everyday and having good teachers. The teachers not only helped with school work but also reached out on a personal level, which helped me stay on track. I felt like they believed in me more than I believed in myself at the time.

After graduation from high school, you attended Black Hills State University. What was that transition like?

I imagined college would be crowded and scary, and some of the freshmen general education classes were! Red Cloud helped me develop the perseverance and resilience I needed. Red Cloud was a safe place for me and it gave the push I needed to try college and to realize that I could actually be a college graduate. I knew college was not going to be easy, but I also knew it was not impossible. I was honored to be a recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholarship, which cleared the the biggest hurdle between me and college. I was determined to fully use this great gift that was given to me!

During college my major changed a number of times—from Elementary Education to Chemistry to Business—but finally I found what I loved: Human Services and Sociology! I found my passion through volunteering and community service and I realized that my goal is to serve my community. Education is also one of my passions, so in 2014 I earned a Master’s degree in Education from South Dakota State University in Counseling and Human Resource Development with a specialization in Administration of Student Affairs. I became interested in helping college students find their passion.

That interest sounds like a perfect match for your current work as the Jump Start Retention Advisor at South Dakota School of Mines.

It is. Jump Start is a transition program for incoming college freshmen with the goal of retaining low-income and Native American students. My position as an advisor includes everything from recruitment, to program planning, to teaching a two-credit course, to “intrusive advising” during the academic year. I follow and track my students for three years and I think of my job as an “educational parent” or life coach. I give my students a different perspective and I help them identify their strengths and weaknesses. When the hard times come, I stand beside them for support. I encourage my students to find their own voices, but sometimes I speak on their behalf. The most motivating part of this work is helping students find their passions and realize their amazing capabilities. These students will make important contributions to their field one day, and knowing I helped them earn their degrees makes me feel like I am bettering the community.

And what about your hopes for your own future?

I love my career, but I also love being a mother. I have a five year old daughter, Lila Ava, and another daughter on the way. I will make my career and being a mother work so that my daughters can see that it can be done. I know that someday my daughters will go to college and graduate. I consider myself a huge advocate for higher education.

Professionally, I had the pleasure of teaching a freshman course at South Dakota School of Mines [and Technology] and I absolutely loved it. Inspired by that experience, I plan on pursuing my doctoral degree and I would love to focus on sociology or anthropology and become a college professor.

What are your hopes for young people living on the reservation now?

I hope young people can see the good in living on the reservation, because it is our home. I hope they also see education as the key and realize that, once they earn their education, no one can ever take it away. I believe that education is the answer to all the problems we face as Native people. With education, we can change our future for the better.


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Photo: Courtesy Kaylynn Two Bulls
last updated: June 6, 2017