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Twelve earn degrees from tribal college

Jun 5, 2014 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

The Wind River Tribal College in Ethete graduated 12 students this year and celebrated their achievements in a special ceremony Friday at the Wyoming Indian Tech Center.

Graduates who received a bachelor of arts degree in early childhood education were Dawn Aragon, Violet Aragon, Dwan Hereford, Ronald Howard, Tillie Jenkins, Teresa Maloney, Gary Martine, Shelley Mbonu, Judith Tidzump, Christine Woolett and Alta Yellowplume-Chavez. Carrie White Antelope received an associate of science degree in Northern Arapaho studies.

The college worked in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh to provide instructors and have them teach on the reservation.

WRTC president Marlin Spoonhunter said instructors were able to incorporate the student's culture in lessons. An emphasis on traditional language also was present throughout the students' education at WRTC, Spoonhunter said, which he said is the college's goal for every student.

"Our language is sacred," he said. "We strive to learn as much as we can."

Since 2010, Spoonhunter said grants have become a boost for students attending WRTC. Keynote speaker Solo Greene, enrolled member of the Nez Perce Tribe and education specialist on the tribe's reservation in Idaho, praised the graduates for the hard work they dedicated to their education.

"They made the right sacrifices," Greene said. "Hold on to your dream, because that was given to you and nobody else."

Most students attended weekend and summer classes to complete scheduled courses, Spoonhunter said. Greene noted that the students' ancestors made choices for them years ago, and now the students are making choices for others in the future.

"You started a building a path," he said. "Sometimes you're the one that paves the road."

He recognized those who were the first in their families to graduate from college and reminded them that they were in a "position to serve" their people.

Andi Clifford, a member of the board of regents for WRTC, asked the family members and friends in attendance to remind the graduates of their sacrifices and accomplishments.

The Eagle Drum performed a flag and honor song at the ceremony, and Spoonhunter made an entry with American Legion Post 84. A reception and powwow was held for the graduating class later in the day at Blue Sky Hall in Ethete.

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