Danielle Locust ’09


Pine Ridge, South Dakota

Current Location

University of Colorado-Denver in Denver, Colorado


Salutatorian. Student-athlete. Gates Millennium Scholar. All-around great person. These are just a few words that describe 2009 graduate Danielle Locust. The outstanding student leader capped off an incredible high school career with a prestigious internship at the Institute of Medicine in Washington, DC. And she hasn’t stopped there.

Danielle attended Creighton University her first semester in college, earning a 4.0 GPA. But recognizing that she wanted something different, she transferred to the University of Colorado-Denver in January, where will declared dual degrees in biology and pre-med.

Asked and Answered

You went to Creighton University and realized you wanted something different. Why did you decide to transfer?

There are many things I learned at Red Cloud, and one of those things was to recognize what you want and to follow that instinct. At Creighton, I didn’t care for some of the core courses they offered. Having experienced the internship in Washington, DC, I knew I wanted more time to focus on my major. The University of Colorado would allow me to do that. Also, my family is very important to me—and I was having a hard time being so far away from home. Denver is closer, and I have a strong support system there.

I do appreciate all that Creighton University offered, and while I decided it wasn’t right for me, I find it to be an outstanding institution with great professors.

What do you like about the University of Colorado-Denver?

The institution has more diversity, and smaller classes. I also love having my own apartment!

What made you decide to major in biology and pre-med?

I want to help people. Pure and simple. I hope to go to medical school someday, and work toward becoming one of the first Native American anesthesiologists. It’s a high bar I’ve set for myself, but I’m determined to beat the odds and achieve it. I recognize that I’ve been given an awesome opportunity to get a college education thanks to the Gates Millennium Scholarship, a program funded by Bill and Melinda Gates that pays for my entire education. I want to earn all that I’ve been given.

And after UC-Denver? What next?

Medical school. For sure. I already am eyeing an excellent program in Florida, so I’m keeping my head in the books and preparing myself for the next step in my college career.

What do you like most about college?

I really like the classes. The workload is harder, but the classes are interesting—so it’s okay. I like meeting new people and having my own schedule. It really made me feel great to get good grades. I am really grateful to Red Cloud teachers like Wendell Gehman, who continued to mentor and support me, making each new lesson a little more understandable and enjoyable.

What would you say to current Red Cloud students who are thinking about college?

Study hard. Right now. Every day. Grades do mean a lot, and they will not be given to you—you have to earn them. Work hard at all you do. Everything, and I mean everything, matters when applying for college and scholarships. Be well-rounded. Get involved in extra-curricular activities. Do community service. And when writing essays for college, write from the heart.

How about advice for college freshmen?

The first year is the hardest. Make friends and take advantage of all the resources that college has to offer—career development, tutoring, etc. Be social, but not too social. Make sincere connections with professors, and don’t be afraid to ask them for help when you need it.

Oh, and sleep is important. Very, very important.

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