Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
Marie, a graduate from Leech Lake Tribal College in Minnesota in liberal studies with a STEM emphasis, ranks as an elite tribal college alumna. Marie was named by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as one of its 105 best and brightest interns and fellows for the NASA Student Ambassador Program. She was the only student from Minnesota nominated and joined the ranks of students chosen from Ivy League schools. NASA managers and mentors nominated the recipients from hundreds of interns and fellows engaged in research and education opportunities across the federal agency.
During her studies, Marie completed a 10-week summer internship with NASA in 2009, partnering with the late Leann Dick on a research project. She worked with Leech Lake Heritage sites to determine which of three possible routes would best serve the needs for the Leech Lake tribe to preserve its cultural resources. “I produced maps that would show where heritage sites have been found and surveyed and what areas were in need of survey. I used the ArcMap program to make maps of different soil drainage classes and helped determine where sites might be located using bathometric date of the paleo-landscape,” Marie says. She also presented the research at conferences across the country.
As a member of the NASA Student Ambassadors virtual community, Marie interacted with the agency while sharing information, making professional connections, and collaborating with peers. The Student Ambassadors also represented NASA in a variety of venues and helped the agency inspire and engage future interns and fellows.
Marie was named to Leech Lake Tribal College's Dean’s List for the fall of 2008 and the President's list for spring of 2009 and was a member of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. She worked on an internship with the Leech Lake Tribal College to study tree rings to determine if climate changes the growth of trees.
Marie says, “I plan to continue my education at a four-year college to study math, computers, and science. My main goal is to achieve a master’s degree in mathematics. I love the challenges that I face when working out equations and solving for the unknown when working with mathematics. I feel that we need more Native Americans in the math and science fields. I want to bring my education back to the reservation to help my people meet the challenges of this rapidly changing world,” she says.
Marie says succeeding academically is important to her because she serves as a role model to her five children as well as her reservation’s youth. “Going to college for the first time after being out of school for 13 years was hard, but going to school and raising five kids is a challenge in itself. Thanks to the American Indian College Fund scholarships that I received throughout the years, I didn't have to worry about expenses. Being a recipient of these scholarships made going to college easier. I was able to focus on my class work and still provide for my children without struggling to make ends meet at home. Thank you to all the donors that contribute to the American Indian College Fund,” Marie says.