Almost 20 years ago, the State Farm Companies Foundation formed the State Farm Companies Foundation Teacher Training Initiative with the American Indian College Fund. This program was designed to provide scholarships to American Indian students enrolled in teacher training programs at the nation's tribal colleges and universities (TCUs). The Fund works directly with the TCUs to select students that display academic excellence, leadership skills and a commitment to community service to participate in the program.
The goal of the program is to help Native students achieve their goals so that they can help future students succeed.
Duane attended college in the past, but decided to abandon his efforts in education to provide for his two young children, ages 9 and 3. When he found himself a single parent and facing an uncertain future after a layoff after 15 years working in the construction field, Duane reevaluated his need for education.
After having coached athletic teams in the high school, junior high, elementary, and community levels, Duane says "having the opportunity to work with students and parents through coaching has brought me to believe my true calling is to work with children in the educational setting and athletics." He says he continues to be active in sports and works with youth every chance he gets.
"[When] I decided that I would re-pursue my educational goals I realized that with a teaching career, I could not only house myself and my boys but also find stability in my life with a job and doing something I truly enjoy working with youth. I realized that entering the academic quest for a degree would mean financial hardship, but figured the result would pay off a hundred fold. It has been tough to transition from a home to a dorm room, but I adapted. I realized that help is there and people do want you to succeed," Duane says.
"I find myself right smack in the middle of achieving my academic goal and cannot believe how time has flown and how many great friends, both working and personal, that I have come across and how many people share the same situation I'm in and how they, too, have persevered to attain a degree," he says.