University of Minnesota Native American Graduates
University of Minnesota
Pictured in the back row, from left, are: University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler and his wife Karen; Lucas Bratvold, Red Lake Band of Chippewa; Bill Rudnicki, SMSC Tribal Administrator; Michelle Haskins, Lac Courte Oreilles; Benjamin Rosaasen, Upper Sioux Community; Keith Anderson, SMSC Vice-Chairman; Rebecca Crooks-Stratton, representative of the SMSC Scholarship Selection Committee. Pictured in the front row, from left, are: Veronica Kingbird, Red Lake Band of Chippewa; Kateri Naumann-Peters, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate; Ella Robertson, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Lake Traverse; Teresa Peterson, Upper Sioux Community/Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe; Carla Big Bear, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe; Darian Ziegler, Lower Brule Sioux.

29 Natives to Graduate from University of Minnesota Thanks to SMSC Scholarship


This year the University of Minnesota will graduate 29 Native American students thanks to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) Endowed Scholarship program. Those 29 students were celebrated on April 25. This is the sixth graduating class that has received the SMSC scholarship, representing 21 tribes from across the United States.

Any student in financial need from any University of Minnesota campus is eligible for the SMSC scholarship. Scholarship recipient, Carla Big Bear, a member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe who will graduate in May from the University of Minnesota Duluth with a master’s degree, spoke at the celebration. ““The SMSC Scholarship program let me focus more on learning than on how I was going to pay for it. This scholarship is making a tremendous impact on many people in Minnesota and across the U.S.,” she said in a press release. Her degree in tribal administration and governance will aid her on her way to work in Washington, D.C. Law school may also be in her future.

Graduates at the celebration were honored by SMSC with a star quilt, and congratulated by friends and family.

“The SMSC endowed scholarship is here to ensure that deserving students like you have the chance to overcome financial hurdles and become the next generation of leaders in your communities,” said SMSC Vice Chairman Keith B. Anderson in the release.

In the past seven years almost 200 Native American students have received the SMSC Endowed Scholarship. The scholarship program was established with a $2.5 million gift from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community in 2009. The University of Minnesota matches the interest earned on the fund.

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