BISMARCK (UTN) – Nerds of the world, if you keep on learning, your time to shine comes eventually.  That was the message to graduates of United Tribes Technical College May 13 during the tribal college’s spring commencement ceremony. 

2016 graduates of the United Tribes Criminal Justice program, from left: Jessica F. Lindskov (Cheyenne River), Tasha L. Bordeaux (Rosebud), and Amber L. Warman (Cheyenne River). United Tribes News photo<>DENNIS J. NEUMANN


“There are benefits to being a nerd; I’ve figured that out now,” said commencement speaker Brad Hawk, the Indian Health Systems Administrator for the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission in Bismarck. “I’m always learning.”

Before joining North Dakota state government, Hawk worked at UTTC for over a decade in the college administration and raising funds for student scholarships and college support.  He grew up on the Crow Creek Nation at Fort Thompson, SD, with 12 brothers and sisters and a large extended family with members who always worked, including his parents who had full time jobs.  

“They also believed in education, pushed me to be educated; and they were supportive,” he told an audience of 300 in UTTC’s James Henry Community Gymnasium.


Brad Hawk

Hawk said he was fortunate to have a family like that, and to grow up with friends that didn’t get into trouble. They called themselves the ‘Geek Squad.’ Years later it’s sort of a ‘Revenge of the Nerds’ to have success in life, he said.  Hawk earned a bachelor’s degree in health administration from the University of South Dakota and a master’s degree in business administration from University of Mary.

The one thing I love about this college, Hawk said of UTTC, is that it’s a learning community where students and their families are supported with services that help you succeed. “Challenges are everywhere and you have to be ready for them.” He told the graduates they could adopt his motto as a theme for their lives: “Rise above challenges.”

He congratulated the class of 2016, saying: “You’ve put in all the hard work, sacrifice and dedication. Remember that learning doesn’t stop now. Be prepared to keep learning and strive always to achieve your goals.”

Message on the top of one UTTC graduate’s mortar board hat. United Tribes News photo<>ALICIA HEGLAND-THORPE

Academic Year End
The college academic year concluded with the commencement ceremony. The graduating class of 2016 represented 12 different tribal nations. Nine earned Bachelor of Science degrees, 29 Associate of Applied Science degrees, and 11 Certificates of Completion.

In addition to family members and friends, the event was attended by tribal leaders on the college’s governing board, representing the tribes of North Dakota: Three Affiliated Tribes of the Mandan/Hidatsa/Arikara Nation, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, Spirit Lake Tribe, Standing Rock Tribe, and Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.

The drum group Wise Spirit rendered ceremonial and honor songs, and a traditional meal followed. Earlier in the day, a special ceremony was conducted for three graduates of the college’s Practical Nursing program.

Honors were conferred on individual students during a student awards event May 12 that included academic and athletic awards, along with staff and faculty recognitions.

United Tribes Technical College SPRING 2016 GRADUATES

Commencement Ceremony: Friday May 13, 2016, 1 p.m., Lone Star Arena

ART/ART MARKETING/FINE ARTS (AAS): Jacinta M. Ducheneaux (Standing Rock) Bismarck; Shacqouia L. Zahn-Greene, Solen, ND; Cherikie Tillman (Easter Shoshone) Bismarck; SiMone Danielle Wilson (Lower Brule) Mandan, ND
AUTOMOTIVE TECHNOLOGY (AAS): Philip A. Battese Sr. (Lower Brule) Lower Brule, SD; Robert W. Eagle Feather (Rosebud) Rapid City, SD; Bartlett D. Wanna (Uintah/Ouray) Bismarck
BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION (AAS): Kirsten S. Clifford (Oglala Tribe) Kyle, SD; Michelle Marie Wise Spirit, Bismarck
BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION (BS): LaSheena Afraid of Hawk (Cheyenne River) Bismarck; Martha A. Allery (Standing Rock) Bismarck; Francis B. Azure (Turtle Mountain) Mandan, ND; Melissa Jade Buffalo (Standing Rock) Bismarck; Jaime Dawn Chaske (Spirit Lake) Bismarck; Caressa L. Grooms (Fort Peck) Bismarck
BUSINESS OFFICE ADMINISTRATION (AAS): Chardell W. Shoyo (Eastern Shoshone) Ft. Washakie, WY
BUSINESS OFFICE TECHNOLOGY (AAS): Lisa M. Lee (Cheyenne River) Bismarck
CRIMINAL JUSTICE (AAS): Emily F. Connor (Three Affiliated) Bismarck; Kali J. Hale (Cheyenne River) Bismarck; Jessica Faye Lindskov (Cheyenne River) Isabel, SD
CRIMINAL JUSTICE (BS): Tasha Lynn Bordeaux (Rosebud) Redmond, WA; Kimber L. Hilfer, Mandan, ND; Amber Louise Warman (Cheyenne River) Bismarck
ELEMENTARY EDUCATION (AAS): Rachelle M. Bergstram, Scranton, ND; Angela K. Buckley-Tochek (Standing Rock) Bismarck; Dakota Louise Eagle (Three Affiliated) Bismarck; Margaret A. Landin (Three Affiliated) Bismarck
ELEMENTARY EDUCATION (BS): Justyn Jade Lawrence (Cheyenne River) Bismarck 
ENVIRONMENTAL LAB TECH (AAS): Connie Begay (Cheyenne River) Bismarck; Bonita K. Claymore (Cheyenne River) Bismarck; Marlee J. Finley (Three Affiliated) Bismarck
NUTRITION & FOOD SERVICE/CULINARY ARTS (AAS): Peter D. Stone, Berry, KY; Delorise White, Bismarck
NUTRITION & WELLNESS (AAS): Toni L. Shot (Cheyenne River) Bismarck; Nathan A. Stayrook, Puyallup, WA
PRACTICAL NURSING (AAS): Alissa Ann Bass, Mandan, ND; Tyneesha Roselynn Swagger (Turtle Mountain) Mandan, ND; Sharon Lee Stoltz, Mandan, ND
HEAVY EQUIPMENT OPERATOR (CERT): Hubert D. Muller, Bismarck; Robert J. Snider (Three Affiliated) Lincoln, ND; Elijah Aaron St. Clair (Eastern Shoshone) Ft. Washakie, WY
WELDING (CERT): McKenzie Kay Bercier (Turtle Mountain) Rolla, ND; Joshua J. Chavez (Northern Arapaho) Bismarck; Anthony Gonzales (Three Affiliated) Fargo, ND; Clayton D. Steele (Oglala Tribe) Pine Ridge, SD; Vincent LaFountain (Turtle Mountain) Bismarck; Stephen Palmer (Navajo Nation) Fuitland, NM; Loren A. West (Cheyenne River) Bismarck