Sonyah Clifford ’11


Rockyford, South Dakota


An all-around fantastic student-athlete with an expertise in graphic design, Senior Sonyah Clifford has maintained an overall GPA of 3.5 while qualifying for state in track and also winning two consecutive Lakota Nation Invitational championships in cheerleading. Among her many talents, she has designed a logo and poster for Indian Health Services and won first and second place at the Heard Museum Guild National American Indian Student Art Show and Sale. Sonyah will graduate this spring with plans in place to attend Arizona State University, where she hopes to start a career as a children’s speech pathologist.

Asked and Answered

How did you get into computer graphics?

Matt Rama’s class. I took a couple courses from him this semester and I really enjoy learning new techniques to create artwork on the computer. I like how his classes always allow me to express myself through multimedia.

How did you feel when you found out that your artwork won at a national art show?

I was happy and very excited. I didn’t think I would win, but Matt suggested that I enter so I did…and I won! I guess I was surprised because I didn’t think I could win.

So have been some of your favorite highlights from high school thus far?

Well, first there was making it to state in track with the medley, then winning the Lakota Nation Invitational for the second time. I mean, it was great winning it the first time but it was better because I was a senior and we did it again without the help of the older girls who we really depended on the year before. I think one of my most interesting memories was when the boys’ basketball team went to the state tournament and we got to cheer for them. It was interesting because there were cheerleaders there from all across the state and we were able to see what other teams were doing.

So which class would you say has been your favorite and why?

I would have to say Matt Rama’s classes. He is a good teacher because he wants all his students to do better. He doesn’t let me be lazy even though sometimes I try to be, and he encourages me in everything that I do. His video production class is really interesting because we get to record people and make videos. I also enjoy his advanced multimedia class because we have more freedoms to be creative while learning more advanced techniques. I’m also very fond of all of the Lakota culture, language and history classes offered at Red Cloud because if it weren’t for Red Cloud, I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn these things about my culture.

You’re also job shadowing at Indian Health Services? What do you do there and what is it like?

Yes. I job shadow in the radiology department. It’s great because we get to learn all about taking x-rays and the other medical careers offered at Indian Health Services. I find radiology very interesting and this whole job shadowing experience has made me think twice about my career goals.

How do you manage all your extra-curricular activities with your schoolwork?

It’s really hard sometimes because I live so far away. When I was little I went to Our Lady of Lourdes, which is a lot closer to home. Once I started high school, I had to wake up extra early just to catch the bus…even sometimes doing my homework on the bus ride home because its such a long trip. I think it takes about an hour. I think what has helped has been my family. My dad is always encouraging us to do better because he only graduated from high school. He supports me in every way that he can and even comes to all of my after-school activities. My whole family does, actually. They are very supportive.

So you’re planning on a career in speech pathology?

Yes. Speech pathologists work with people with speech problems. When I was little I had speech problems and I had to see someone all the way in Rapid City. There aren’t any speech therapists on the reservation, and I want to change that, especially for the children. I want to help children like they helped me.

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