Completing the Circle

Looking to the future: RCHS students visit Black Hills State University

posted on November 26, 2012

by Christopher Ives

“No matter what anyone says or does, [Pine Ridge Reservation] will always be my home,” says Patrick Clark, a senior at Red Cloud High School. While this area will always be home to Clark, he has big things lined up for his future. He is one of many students who have attended college visits this year, planned with the intention of finding the best fits for Red Cloud graduates.

Nakina Mills ‘98, RCHS Director of Student Advancement and Alumni Support, has brought high school students to nine schools in four different states this semester and has more visits lined up in Kansas this spring. After working in the social services field for a number of years, Mills came back to RCHS this fall to support the next generation in their goals for post-secondary education. The visits are part of what RCIS calls “completing the circle,” providing students with the tools they need to achieve their greatest potential, from kindergarten through graduation day.

This past weekend, Mills brought students to Black Hills State University where they had a Q&A session with students, professors, and Red Cloud alumni who currently attend the University. They also received a tour of the campus and were able to eat in the student union building with current BHSU students. Finishing the day, they visited the Center for American Indian Studies and were invited to a BHSU home football game, before returning to Pine Ridge last Saturday.

“It is great to work with these students who want to succeed,” says Mills. “A lot of kids want to attend college for their families and their communities and it is very rewarding to be part of the process.” Mills has seen a number of students who found a renewed sense of purpose and direction after attending a college visit. “When I was in school we didn’t have opportunities like this,” Mills remembers. “Now these students are getting a chance to visit schools in person and they have support during the application process.” Attending a college visit gives students something tangible to work toward and inspiration for their future.

Senior William Bell has found the visits to be particularly beneficial. “Originally I thought I would have to leave the state to find the major I was looking for,” says Bell. “After visiting Black Hills State I found out that they actually have my major: genetic technology.” Bell, Clark and their classmates are now actively planning for futures at colleges around the country and taking the necessary steps to get there. Both plan to join the Marines after graduation to help pay for school before continuing on to a college degree.

“My mother always told me to be prepared for anything and to plan ahead,” says Clark. “I now know that a college education is accessible and with the G.I. bill I can take advantage of that.” Confident in their abilities and the support behind them, Clark’s study of criminal justice and Bell’s work in genetic technology are sure steps to a stronger home for them to return to someday s