Dominic Clichee (Navajo) often thinks on the words of Black Elk, an Oglala Lakota Holy Man, when he looks back on his life’s path. Black Elk said, “…everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles….”
In Dominic’s community, like many American Indian communities, only 65% of people graduated from high school, compared to 85% of the general U.S. population. He says the American Indian College Fund inspired him to break out of that mold and go to college by providing him with role models by sharing stories of student success on its website. Yet coming from a community where more than half live in poverty and struggle to put food on the table, Dominic’s parents couldn’t afford to send him to school. It was because of scholarships from the American Indian College Fund that Dominic had the opportunity to go to college and achieve his full potential.
As an undergraduate, Dominic’s classes at Haskell Indian Nations University instilled in him a passion to return home to his reservation to work for his community. He also worked as an intern at the Nike World Headquarters with the General Manager of Native American Business at Nike to better the health of Native people. At Nike, Dominic learned about the field of Public Health, and decided to earn a master’s degree to pursue a career in public health to address chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer in his community. Dominic graduated in May with a 4.0 grade point average, magna cum laude, from Arizona State University with his master’s degree.
Now working as a Quality Management Analyst for the Tsehootsooi Medical Center, the hospital facility where he was born, Dominic says the words of Black Elk ring true: Everything comes full circle. Dominic is now both a professional serving his community and an American Indian College Fund donor, closing the circle and helping others to help achieve their dreams.