Kayla Iron Cloud ’11


Porcupine, South Dakota


Very committed to her faith, Kayla Iron Cloud spends her free time leading students in the spiritual formation department and helping out at school sweats. A member of the National Honor Society, Kayla continuously stays on honor roll while spending her summers at summer learning programs such as NASA’s Semai Program and SKIL, a program offered by the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

Throughout her four years at Red Cloud High School, Kayla has been involved with basketball, cross-country and is a student lead in the spiritual formation department. Kayla plans on attending South Dakota State University where she hopes to major in nursing.

Asked and Answered

So tell me…what is the NASA Semai Program?

It is a program hosted by Oglala Lakota College in Kyle that brings down pilots and other people from NASA to show us how planes are made and what pilots do. We are able to learn how to fly a plane in this really cool “machine”…we actually get to learn the different gears and things that the pilots used. At the end of the program, we engineer (or design) a plane that can fly using some of the lessons they taught us in aviation and engineering.

What did you like about that particular program?

It was fun. I especially enjoyed learning how to fly. It was just a really great opportunity to learn about something new.

So what is the SKIL Program?

The program is basically school during the summer, offered by South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. We take classes in math, science, English and history. It’s designed to prepare us for college.

What did you like most about the SKIL Program?

English. I love English and writing. They taught us how to be better writers.

So I take it English is your favorite class? What do you enjoy about English?

Yes it is! I love reading and learning about different places and times in history around the world. It’s great learning about the different cultures…and I just love to write. I also enjoy the art and yearbook classes, but I especially love how everything is tied together with the Lakota Spirituality and Christian faith classes. For our Gates Millennium Scholarship application process we had to do a lot of writing, but I really enjoyed the Technical Writing and Research class that Red Cloud offered because we were taught how to write the perfect paper. I had fun with it. At first I was nervous because I didn’t know what to write about, but after awhile I got comfortable and the writing started to flow as I remembered certain events in my life.

I put everything into writing my essays for Gates. I swear I must have rewrote each essay at least four times before I got them the way I wanted them. My teachers were really helpful in the whole process.

How did you feel when you found out that you were awarded the Gates?

I was surprised and really emotional. I felt really blessed because now I don’t have to worry about my future or the future of my two-year old daughter Kianni. I am very grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way because of Red Cloud. I had to miss four weeks of school when my daughter was born, but Red Cloud worked with me and I still maintained my good grades. I think everything could have been harder going to school with a child at home, but because everyone at Red Cloud believed in me, I became a better student, leader and mother.

I’d especially like to thank my teachers Matt Rama, Mike Sunderland, Anne Grass, Benji Horgan, my parents, and the counselors, especially Tara Hindman, for all the help and consideration they gave me with everything, especially the Gates. If it weren’t for their help and support, I don’t think I would be where I am today.

What are your plans now that you’ve got the Gates?

I want to go to school at SDSU and major in nursing. I hope to return to the reservation and work at Indian Health Services to help my people. Every time I go to the hospital, it looks crowded and there isn’t enough nurses or staff to immediately help everyone. I think that if IHS had more local Native nurses working for them, then they would be able to more effectively help everyone and it would be easier for them to relate to their patients.

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