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Thomas is Student of the Year
15 March 2007
By Karla Davis, UTTC Scholarship Committee

      Perseverance and inspiration are two gifts of character from family members that guide the success of Sylvester H. Thomas (Oglala Sioux Tribe) who was named Student of the Year at United Tribes Technical College.

      The 27-year-old from Wanblee, South Dakota was selected by the United Tribes Scholarship Committee for the singular honor for the 2006-07 academic year and a cash award from the American Indian College Fund.

Sylvester H. Thomas
Sylvester H. Thomas, AICF Student of the Year at UTTC

      "I'm honored and humbled to receive the award," said Thomas. "And I'm also excited and proud that hard work has paid off."

      Thomas is a second year UTTC student in Small Business Management. He was selected from a group of nominees because of his outstanding record as a student. He carries a 3.6 GPA, is very serious about his studies, and takes care of his responsibilities. He works part-time as a computer support technician for a local business and applies for scholarships to help pay for tuition. Members of the committee believe he is a good role model who represents the college very well.

      "My main motivation is my mother," said Thomas. "She gave me the drive to succeed in life. She built the foundation for my success."

      His mother, Mavis Bad Cob, is a single parent. She raised two boys and seven girls, who learned by her example of working hard to support the family. It was through her encouragement and positive attitude that Thomas learned to persevere no matter what the circumstance.

      As far as inspiration, Thomas got that from his uncle, Patrick Eaglestaff, who inspired him to use education to go somewhere in life.

      "He was my role model growing up. He has a great work ethic," said Thomas. "While working on his master's degree, he worked full-time and raised a family."

      Thomas lived on the reservation most of his life and graduated from Crazy Horse High School in 1998. In 2005 he moved to Bismarck to attend UTTC and earn an Associate Degree. After graduation he plans to go on for a Bachelors Degree and, eventually, a Masters at South Dakota State University.

      "After I reach my educational goals I want to move back to the reservation and open up a business," he said.

      His fiancée, Nicole White (Three Affiliated), a student in Business Office Technology, shares his goal to provide a better future for themselves and their two girls, Savannah (7) and Jaseyona (6).

      Having applied for many scholarships, being named Student of the Year is a welcome honor. The American Indian College Fund award of $1,000 will be used to help with educational expenses.

      Thomas's advice to other students: Stay focused and keep your goals in mind; work hard for what you want and always remember the reason you are here.


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