I just returned from the AIHEC student conference in Bismarck, North Dakota, where I had the opportunity to meet with many of our students from all across Indian country. It is a busy, noisy, and fun time, as old friends meet again, new friendships are formed, and students compete in one-act play competitions, Knowledge Bowl, and traditional hand games. Students also display their scientific research, and compete in an art competition.
It is always a wonderful experience to meet with students and learn about their lives, their challenges, and their determination to improve their lives and communities through education. At the conference students continually approach the Fund staff and tell us, “I wouldn’t be here without your support.” I am humbled by this as I am reminded that we are doing sacred work.
It is my wish that every student in Indian country who wants an education can have this opportunity. There is nothing like seeing the excitement in a mother’s face as she told us she has completed her associate’s degree and has earned a 4.0, and has inspired her young adult daughter to pursue and education as well. The desire for an education in Indian country is becoming contagious–in a good way! As families see what is possible with an education, they are catching the excitement and pursuing their educations as well. And there is nothing like witnessing the glow of someone who has realized their own potential.
At the AIHEC student conference, I was reminded that like spring, education renews the spirit, and enables the passage to the full growth of human potential.