Four Central Wyoming College students have been selected as Native American Student Leaders for 2013-14 and will serve as mentors for current students and local Native American Youth.
Selected from Native American students enrolled at CWC this fall were Coker Haukaas, Amber Noseep, Andre Kaquatosh and Lee Tendore.
“They all received a special scholarship this year in recognition of their dedication, unique journeys to college and for their leadership skills,” said CWC Associate Vice President for Student Services Coralina Daly. “We believe in the power students have to inspire other students and look forward to people getting to know these four.”
All of the Native American Student Leaders currently reside on or near the Wind River Indian Reservation and are excited to be at CWC. “All the resources are here,” said Tendore. “You just have to tap into them.”
Tendore, 33, is an Eastern Shoshone married father of three children who served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps prior to returning to Lander. Into his third year as a part-time student, Tendore is still amazed he is a college student.
“College was never in my future whatsoever,” Tendore said. He graduated from Flandreau Indian Boarding School in South Dakota, but was not interested in college until his wife, Reinette, strongly encouraged him to enroll. “Without her I would not be in school,” he said. She earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming and serves as a prevention specialist for both the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapahoe tribes. The couple is active helping youth with the UNITY and ESCAPE organizations.
Tendore embodies many of the characteristics of an exceptional student leader, said Faculty President Matt Herr. “He is an honest, quiet, gentle, persistent student who models excellent behavior and integrity with every step he takes, each paper he composes and every presentation he delivers,” he said. “Outside of school, Lee is active in the community and keeps a sharp eye out offering to help others deal with difficult circumstances - offering his heart, home and family in some cases. Lee's previous service in the U.S. Marine Corps has only helped cement him as a positive male role model.”
Tendore is studying both Native American Studies and criminal justice. He is scheduled to graduate in May and believes in the power his degree has to help him support his family. “In this day and age to have a better future, you have to have a degree,” he said.
Noseep, 21, is the daughter of Sophia Noseep and Blake Armajo, Sr., and the granddaughter of Anna and Matthew Noseep and Genevieve and Morton Eli Armajo Sr., from Fort Washakie. She is studying pre-health and plans to attend University of Illinois College of Medicine after completing her associate’s and bachelor’s degrees. Last summer, Northern Arapaho Tribal Liaison Gary Collins nominated her to travel to the UIC campus where she spent a week with medical students and professors.
“Amber’s assertiveness to better the Native American community with her current knowledge and proposed medical training was clearly an attribute at her age,” Collins said. “She participated in the various complex discussions, expressed her awareness of culture and tradition, and impressed the medical school officials as a successful student and person.”
Noseep is excited about the program but focused on her true goal. “I want to provide stability for my daughter – to set a good example for her. I didn’t want to be a statistic. I want to prove to other young moms that you can still achieve what you want to do even with a young child, especially when you have positive family and friend support,” she said.
Kaquatosh, 21, is a Fort Washakie Charter High School graduate and is enrolled with the Menominee tribe of Wisconsin though he was raised here in Fort Washakie. He is the son of Gordon and Alice Kaquatosh and the grandson of Tony and Lillian Aragon.
An artist, Kaquatosh is interested in all forms of creative expression but especially music. He plays the guitar and is a member of the CWC handbell choir. In addition, he enjoys photography and creative writing.
“Andre is a very quiet, friendly young man, with a strong sense of duty to his family and friends,” said CWC Music Professor Bob Hussa. “He is one of the most polite students I have had in a number of years. He is very diligent about working toward his goals, and he is always considerate of others. It is a pleasure to work with him.”
Haukaas is an enrolled member of the Eastern Shoshone tribe. He was born in Fort Washakie but grew up in Northern Idaho. He enrolled at CWC soon after returning to Fort Washakie in 2011. He is pursuing degrees in business management and accounting but finds all of his classes valuable.
A recent class outside his major stirred his curiosity. “This ‘Legends and Lore’ class – I didn’t think I would like it but it sounded interesting,” Haukaas said. “Taking it inspired me to take more. Almost all classes are like that. I’m inspired to learn.”
CWC Business Professor Beth Gray has come to know Haukaas both in class and as his advisor. “Coker is an outstanding individual,” Gray said. “He is honest, hard-working, intelligent, eager to please, funny, kind, and the list goes on and on. He is an awesome student all the way around.”
Each of the four students has words of wisdom to share with fellow and future CWC students.
For Haukaas, success comes from passion and attitude: “Life is what you make of it. Live positively. Don’t give in to negativity and fear. Life knocks you down. Get back up.”
Kaquatosh believes success in college means structuring your life with as little stress as possible, creating time to study and surrounding yourself with supportive people. He also recommends staying in the present and focusing on the future. “Try not to live in the past,” he said.
For Tendore, success is rooted in discipline: “Start with small goals and move to large goals. Work on study habits. A better future depends on everyone bettering themselves. Step up to the plate and do it.”
Noseep recommends staying focused and maintaining momentum. “It is never too late to start school. Just as long as you keep going – taking a break isn’t a good idea. It’s too hard to get back into it,” she said. Balance is also key for Noseep.
“College is fun, but don’t make it too much fun,” she said.
To learn more about CWC’s Native American Student Leader program, contact Daly at (307) 855-2186.
CWC Native American Student Leaders are (back from left) Andre Kaquatosh, Coker Haukaas, Lee Tendore and in front, Amber Noseep. Photo by Lanna Rios