Learning about leadership

Mandaree seventh-graders Maytaya Sheppard and LaDawna LaPointe both want to become pediatricians when they grow up. Eighth-grader Robert Cavanaugh hasn’t made up his mind yet, but he’s got a few years.

“I’ll to be the first person in my family to go to college,” he said.

All three kids were learning about all of the possibilities open to them last week when they spent two days at Minot State University as part of a youth leadership training program.

The students had a chance to stay in the dormitories and tour the college campus, which included a visit to the Native American Cultural Center on campus and the POWER Center, which helps first generation college students on campus succeed.

During the visit, they learned about scholarship options and different majors.

“We talked about our dreams,” said Maytaya.

The kids also visited some fun classes, like a screen printing presentation in art instructor Jessica Christy’s class. Arts student Takuma Abe gave each of the children a chance to try their hands at screen printing. Christy explained that the technique is used in making a lot of everyday items, including designs on T-shirts with rock music group logos. They also paid a visit to the student wellness center on campus, which is used only by university students. They took time out to see the Roosevelt Park Zoo and visit the shopping center in Minot.

The kids found that the dorms had all the expected amenities, though a bit chilly. Robert thought the mattresses looked kind of old and ripped-up.

Beatriz Martinez Kinnison, who has run the program for youth on reservations and other areas throughout the country, said it’s important to start early with college plans, which is why they like to start in middle school. Martinez said similar programs have been held for youngsters in all 50 states and in Puerto Rico.

Principal Carolyn Bluestone said this is the first time Mandaree has held the program, but she hopes to get even more kids involved in the student leadership program next summer.

Maytaya, LaDawna and Robert will have a chance to give a presentation to their classmates on their experiences at Minot State University when they head back to school this fall.

Perhaps even more students will become aware of all the possibilities open to them in college and start making their dreams a reality.