Dave Means ’11


Pine Ridge, South Dakota


An honor roll student all four years of high school, Dave Means has attended Red Cloud Indian School since kindergarten. Balancing academics, athletics and after-school activities, Dave participated in track, cross country, Rocket Club and was a senior leader for the Spiritual Formation Department. As vice president of the Red Cloud High School Student Council, Dave co-moderated the Oglala Sioux Tribe Presidential Debate.

During his senior year, he was awarded the Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholarship. He plans on attending the University of Arizona, where he is undecided on his major.

Asked and Answered

You have said that you are undecided on your major for college. Why is that and is there something that you might be interested in?

I want to keep my options open because I don’t know exactly what classes I may like or dislike in college. I have recently been looking into physical therapy as a possible major, but I am still unsure yet. I want to find out what fits me best.

What do you find interesting about physical therapy?

Physical therapy looks like a job that never gets boring. There are so many different ways to help people in that profession and overall, it’s just an interesting job. You get to help people strengthen their muscles and joints. There aren’t very many physical therapists around Pine Ridge and it may be a way that I can help my people because there are a lot of people around here who need it but don’t have access to it.

How did you decide on the University of Arizona?

It’s a big school with great weather and it’s close to family. I think I will have a lot more opportunities at a bigger school because they have so many more majors to offer someone like me who is undecided when they first enter college. I really don’t like winter and after I found out I was accepted to a sunny place like Arizona, it fit perfectly for me.

What was it like co-moderating the OST Presidential Debate?

It was fun but at the same time I was nervous because I felt so honored to be interviewing the next person who would be running our tribal government. I was scared that I would mess up or lose my words in front of the camera or even on the radio since it was all “live on the air.” I learned a lot from the experience though. The [candidates] knew so many facts and figures about the issues our people face, and they had so many great ideas on how to help that I think a lot of people would be better off if they really listened to them.

So what will you miss about Red Cloud?

My friends and how we were a close-knit class this year. I have made so many lifelong friends here that it feels weird to be leaving. Red Cloud is a part of who I am and I am positive that I would not have gotten the Gates scholarship or even be able to attend college if I had not spent my whole life here. I am truly grateful to everyone at Red Cloud, especially the teachers. I hope that someday I can give back to Red Cloud somehow.

What has been one of your most memorable moments at Red Cloud?

During cross country practice, I stepped on a big snake right behind the school and I took off running and screaming while my friends laughed and made fun of me. We still joke about it today. It is memories like that that make it hard to leave Red Cloud.

What teachers have helped you through your high school career?

All of them! But mostly, Clay Leonard and Mike Sunderland, aka “Suds.” Clay always pushed me to do my best in his class. At first, math was hard for me but he really took the time to help me understand it and I am grateful to him for it. Suds helped me with the whole application process for the Gates and for college.

So how did you feel when you were awarded the Gate Millennium Scholarship?

I was speechless. I was seriously the least likely to get the scholarship in my class. So I couldn’t believe that all those hours of writing and working on my essays paid off. I still can’t believe it and it feels weird to have all my college paid for but I am so grateful to everyone that has helped me and pushed me to continue trying.

Who has been your greatest influence up to this point in your life?

My mom. Being my only parent, I have relied on her a lot. She raised four kids all on her own without help or asking for help from anyone. My mom is the strongest person I know and she has always inspired me to do as best as I can in everything I do.


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