For Alumni, Time at Red Cloud Shapes the College Journey





For Red Cloud graduates, taking those first steps onto a college campus can evoke a combination of emotions—excitement for the future and nostalgia for the grounding of home. Many Red Cloud graduates become the first in their families to pursue higher education, and beginning that academic journey can feel uncertain, like navigating across uncharted territory.

But according to number of new graduates—who are all succeeding in their journey through higher education—being a part of the Red Cloud community is what gave them the resilience to overcome any obstacle in their path.

Shane Star, who graduated from Red Cloud in 2013, shared that Red Cloud’s focus on strong academics made all the difference for him.





“The education there pushed you a little harder. My mother graduated from [Red Cloud], and I wanted to follow in her footsteps in that way, too,” he said.

Now, five years later, Shane has graduated from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology with a degree in Civil Engineering. He has already set his sights on obtaining a Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering, and eventually pursuing a Ph.D. in that subject.

“I want to be a professor at the School of Mines and have my own Native American scholarship and mentoring program,” Shan said of his ultimate professional and personal goal. “I want to create a pipeline for Native American engineers.”

Shane’s desire to drawn on his academic accomplishments in order to give back to community is one that is echoed by many recent Red Cloud graduates. These young men and women say their years at Red Cloud played a central role in forming their commitment to building a better world.





“I always heard it from people growing up, from people like my grandma, and other elders in the community,” says Jacob Rosales ‘17. “I never [internalized] the responsibility of giving back until I started going to Red Cloud. It’s one of the best things about going to school at Red Cloud—learning the Lakota language, the history of the culture, and the practices. All of that made me really aware of what these responsibilities entailed. Being around other Red Cloud students who wanted to do the same thing made me mindful of what I wanted to do as a career.”

Now a sophomore at Yale University focusing his studies on the biological sciences, Jacob uses this compass to guide his choices, both academically and personally.

Many more graduates, attending colleges all across the country, say that the sense of community and shared purpose they developed at Red Cloud has followed them well beyond graduation day—and continues to guide them without fail.





When asked if Red Cloud’s system of support still touches her life today, Tatiana Stands ‘13 explained that, “Red Cloud has been the biggest support system for me.”

Tatiana recalls that her goal of pursuing a college degree began right on Red Cloud’s campus.

“If I hadn’t attended Red Cloud, I probably never would have gone to Upward Bound [a mentoring and tutoring program], and never would have gone to college to begin with,” she said.

Despite her initial doubts about college, Tatiana recently graduated with a degree in Sports Entertainment and Event Management with a Concentration in Sports Management from Johnson and Wales University, Charlotte. She says she is grateful for the relationship she maintains with the team at Red Cloud, and specifically with Nakina Mills, the Director of Advancement and Alumni Support.

“Nakina has been the greatest support system ever. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know what would have happened,” she explained. “Whenever I need her I just call her or I text her and let her know what’s going on.”

Red Cloud’s graduates draw on both their academic training and deeply rooted sense of community as fuel for their journey, through college and beyond. Red Cloud’s holistic approach to education, they explain, provided them with a reserve of personal strength and confidence to overcome the range of challenges they face.

Their hope is that the next generation of Red Cloud students will gain that same strength and confidence.

“Don’t be afraid to step outside the bubble, thinking that just because you’re from the reservation, that you won’t be successful like anyone else,” Tatiana shared, when asked what her advice would be to current Red Cloud students. “You can be as successful as anyone else could be, if you just put your mind and your heart into it.”




Photos © Red Cloud Indian School



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