United Tribes NewsFrom Humble Beginnings
United Tribes AICF “Student of the Year”
29 April 2011
BISMARCK (UTN) - Bobby Crow Feather never expected to be named the American Indian College Fund "Student of the Year" for United Tribes Technical College.
"I remember telling Dr. Harriett Skye that I wouldn't know what to write for their essay," he said. "And she said, 'what about being born in a place barely on the map? You'd have your title: From Humble Beginnings.'"
It turned out to be good advice for the 27 year-old from Drumright, OK, where the population is 2,905 and he was among the eight percent who are Native American.
Drumright is in Oklahoma's Creek County, and although Bobby is enrolled at Standing Rock, his tribal heritage is also Creek (Thlopthlocco) and Yavapai-Apache.
"I am the first in my family to attend college, the third to graduate high school, and the only one to receive an academic honor," he wrote in his essay to the College Fund. "I may also be the only one to know that my education will take me places that my dreams have already gone."
Those dreams were important, because Bobby describes himself as a three-time cancer survivor and a diabetic for many years. He says it wasn't too long ago that he was told an education, and even life, was beyond his reach.
"As a cancer survivor you live it, you learn it and then you earn it," he said.
He had already turned so many stumbling blocks into stepping stones that he recognized United Tribes would be a great place to grow when he came here two years ago. He wanted to complete an associate degree and return home to work for the tribe. He called it a "simple, no frills goal."
But he changed his mind after taking one course in particular. It was "Tribal-Federal Law," taught by UTTC's in-house attorney Thomas Disselhorst, who posed some thought provoking questions in class about sovereignty and leadership.
"Those questions led me to wonder what I needed to do to make things better for my people," he said.
Bobby now describes it as "an amazing start" that he will receive an AAS degree in Tribal Management at the United Tribes Graduation on May 6.
"But I need to learn all I can to make the biggest impact," he wrote.
What began as a simple goal has grown into an appreciation for lifelong learning and a desire to earn that next degree.
"I learned amazing things about education – not only can it not be taken away, but it starts a thirst in you," he wrote.
His goal now is different: to earn a bachelor's degree and then go to work for either his mother's or father's tribe.
"I want to work on the way programs are implemented. I think tribes can be run too casually, like a grant program that spends away its last dollars. We need to think strong for the future and run things more like a business. A business designed to carry us for the next seven generations."
Bobby's more immediate next step after graduation is a trip to West Africa. He was accepted into a summer internship program with Cross-Cultural Solutions, an organization he has volunteered with before. He is scheduled to leave for Ghana on May 12. When he returns, his educational goal is to start on that bachelor's at United Tribes.
The College Fund recognition comes with a monetary award. He says it will allow him to further invest in his education by paying for books, supplies and other tools for success.
Perhaps more important, he sees the award as an endorsement.
"Just as I believe in me, it helps to know that others see the plan that is growing before me, and they too believe it can be done," he said. "That will lead me further toward my future goal of making changes for those people who matter most to me, family and friends."
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