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Native American graduate honored

January 1, 2013

A student graduating from Central Wyoming College’s Western American Studies program this fall was honored at a special ceremony attended by Arapaho tribal members, fellow students and staff.

Nico O’Neal Holt spent two years studying archaeology and history at CWC and is transferring to the University of Wyoming. He was congratulated by students, faculty, mentors and tribal elders, including Mark Soldier Wolf who spoke about his own struggles to attend college after service in the Korean War. Following a smudging ceremony, Soldier Wolf advised Holt to continue his hard work.

“Nico is a trail blazer,” said Professor Todd Guenther. “His graduation is a big deal. I’m really happy and proud to see him succeed as a student and friend.” Guenther said one of the goals of the Western American Studies program is to provide the knowledge and skills for tribal members to take “possession and control of their own heritage.”

Holt has turned his academic experiences into a paying job working as an archaeologist for the Bureau of Land Management, Guenther said.

To understand the complexities of how people thousands of years ago lived in various environments, Holt also studied environmental science at CWC. He plans to major in both anthropology and environmental science at UW.

"Nico has been a delight to have as a member of our undergraduate research team,” said Jacki Klancher, who teaches environmental science for CWC’s Environment, Health and Safety program. “He excels at field and lab work, is a natural leader, and can accomplish all, and everything, upon which he sets his sights.”

Mark Soldier Wolf, left, Nico O'Neal Holt, right