Montana American Indian Student Scholars

The Commissioner sought liaisons in each of the MUS campuses to identify currently enrolled American Indian students for a unique pilot designed to provide support for American Indian students and their families. Each of the MUS and Community College campuses submitted names for program liaisons.

City College - MSU-Billings


Josh Tarango

  My name is Josh Tarango. I’m 28 years old and originally from a very small town in Northern California called Burney. I moved to Billings three years ago with my wife and three daughters. I’m Navajo and Blackfoot as well as a little bit of Filipino, Spanish, English and Irish mixed in. I’m currently in my second year of the welding program at MSU. I’ve received the Horatio Alger scholarship for two separate semesters, as well as the Gianforte Manufacturing scholarship, the Facilities Services scholarship and the Brad James Black Memorial scholarship. With my maintained GPA of 3.5, I received the honor of being inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. I’ve also been lucky enough to become President of the Beta Upsilon Rho chapter of PTK. When I graduate, I will become a member of the local 30 pipe fitters’ union and hope to gain employment as a welder at a local shop, railway or mill. In my free time I enjoy fishing, swimming, being outdoors, at home DIY projects and family game nights with my girls.

Jonethyn Collins

 


Hello, my name is Jonethyn Collins. I am Oglala Lakota (Runsabove) and Nez Perce (Blackeagle), but my uncle James Wick and many others raised me as a Northern Cheyenne. I am from Ashland, MT. I’m currently a freshman in the Diesel Technology program at Montana State University-Billings and in my second semester. My current GPA is 3.24. My academic goal is to graduate with my associate’s in diesel technology and pursue a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering at Montana State University.

 

Flathead Valley Community College

Adelaid Boeck   Ta'c meeyi, my name is Adelaide Boeck. I am an enrolled member of the Nez Perce Tribe, a direct descendent of Chief Joseph, daughter of Chief Levi McCormack. We originated in the Wallows of Oregon and reside on the Lapwai Indian Reservation in Idaho. I attend Flathead Valley Community College for preparation of the Surgical Technologist Program in fall of 2017.  I have over twenty years of experience in emergency medicine, fire, security, and hazardous materials response.  I currently serve two Judges appointed positions at the Flathead Valley District Court.  I am the Native American Representative on the Youth Placement Committee for Youth Court, and am on the Foster Care Placement Review Committee for Child Protective Services.  I plan to one day attend Rocky Mountain College to graduate as a Physician Assistant and return home to provide health and wellness care for the ongoing health needs of Native Americans.  During my summers I visit my brother in Joseph, Oregon and attend his Longhouse Ceremony and my sister in Pendleton to help in her restaurant (during Round-Up days).  We celebrate our family reunion at our lake cabin on Spirit Lake in Idaho.  This is important to me because we are one of the last families of Chief Joseph and keeping our connections are what will help to pass down our traditions and heritage. I am grateful for this opportunity as a Montana American Indian Scholar and am looking forward to tackling any challenges ahead.  Qe'ti'yewyew'

 

Great Falls College Montana State University

Charmaine Engum  

My name is Charmaine Engum. I was born in Browning, MT to Christina Wetzel and Carl Heavy Runner. I ended up moving to Helena, where I grew up with my grandparents until I was 12. I moved up to Great Falls to live with my Mother and went to school at the Lady of Lourdes. I eventually attended Great Falls Central Catholic High School where I went through a stage of not caring about life or people for a good while, feeling like my life had no purpose. I decided at this point, to make a better person out of myself and, over all, make the changes needed for a better life. I met my amazing husband in 2010, he currently works as a Tech Sargent for the Montana Air National Guard. He encouraged me to get my GED at the Great Falls College through adult education in 2013. We got married in May of 2014 and soon after that I applied to be a student at the Great Falls College. I officially started in 2017, working on my nursing prerequisites needed to apply for the BSN transfer program to Bozeman in the spring of 2019. This semester alone I have learned so much more about myself though the people at GFC. It is truly an amazing experience seeing people around me improving their lives every day. My biggest inspiration comes from the students, who are constantly striving to be better and reaching their goals. My goal is to continue to extend myself to guide and help others around me, to help draw out their passions.

Gary Trotchie  

I am 28-year old native (Little Shell) filmmaker that is attending college for my generals. I just want to prove to myself that I can get through my education and get a degree. I lost my father when I was 13 and that was the start of when my education career took a dive, it caused issues in high school from being bullied to becoming a bully. I left Great Falls High and got into Paris Education Center and got my GED, there I went through a growing period I got involved with the church and by the grace of God I forgave those who hurt me, and I made amends with those I hurt. Now I strive to help those that are in my old shoes so that way they don’t have to go to the same issues I did.

Michele Uhrich  

Hello! My name is Michele (Good) Uhrich and I am originally from Wolf Point, MT.  I attend Great Falls College MSU and I’m working on my associates in accounting. For years I have been a bookkeeper and I decided to “up my game” by getting my associates and possibly going on to get my bachelors. I am an associate member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine/Sioux Tribe and a descendant of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Tribe.   It is a privilege to be part of the Native American Student Group!


Shawn Arbunkle  

Oki, Hello, I’m Shawn Arbuckle and I am 41 years old. I was born in Whitefish Montana. I am married and have a beautiful daughter, Alyssa Rose; she is three years old. I’m an enrolled tribal member of The Blackfeet Nation. I am a descendant of Cecile Laststar. I currently live in Great Falls and I attend GFCMSU, where I am studying to complete a Montana University System Core Certificate. I am an active member of the Native American Student Group and Phi Theta Kapa. I will transfer to Bozeman MSU, to complete a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. Prior to attending GFCMSU, I gained 20 years of construction experience. My experience in the field, and the memory of my dad, motivate me to become an engineer.


Theresa Ground  

I am a mother of 5, with all five still living at home. I am Blackfeet. I moved to Great Falls with my husband and our son 18 years ago from Browning.  I did not go to college after high school because I wanted to be a mom and a wife, not a college student. I did not think financially we could afford for me to go to school, but I now know God will take care of us financially. I look back at my decision to wait and it was the best thing I could have done for myself and my family. By waiting I was able to see my strengths and start creating a goal or dream for myself. My end goal is to become an Elementary teacher preferably  1st -5th. I don’t want the tiny little guys fresh into school, and I don’t want the kids who think they are top dogs of the school. Going back to school I was scared, now I am so glad I made the choice to further my education. I have a lot going on with 5 kids, sports, concerts, and life. But, I do not let that stop me from being a role model to my kids who are watching what I can accomplish. This is my second year and I have managed to earn and maintain straight A’s.  I am currently a part of Native American Students, Native American Scholars, Student Government and Phi theta Kapa. By being a non-traditional student I can see that my education is not just for me, but for my kids. I know I am making my kids proud with every step I push to the finish line. School is hard at times and when you add the stresses of life it can feel overwhelming, but with the support from my husband, my friends, and family I will continue to keep going.

Terra Goss  

Hi, my name is Terra Goss. I’m an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes from New Town, North Dakota. I attend the Great Falls College MSU and I’m taking my prerequisites for Addiction Counseling.


Helena College University of Montana

Kyle Racine  

Kyle Racine is a current student at the Helena College University of Montana. He earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Diesel Technology through Helena College in 2018. He is now continuing his studies toward a bachelor’s degree. The accomplishment he most proud of while going through college was earning his A.A.S. with a 4.0 GPA. The things that interest him the most is the learning process of his current work in heavy-duty trucks and attending community events with his family. His wife and two kids are his driving force behind everything that is positive in his life. When there is some free time, he can often be found at the many lakes and rivers fishing with his family.

Thea Ostwald  

Hello everyone! My name is Thea Ostwald. I'm part of the Cowesses First Nation of Canada.  I'm a Montana native and proud of that. Our state has so much to offer. I love taking the back roads and seeing our states beauty. I'm currently finishing my A.S at Helena College. At Helena College I help build a club. The Montana Student Education Association. This club volunteers at local elementary schools and creates comradery with peers. I will soon be transferring to the University of Montana-Missoula. There I will finish my bachelors in Elementary Education and minor in Native American Studies. My goal is to keep the Native culture alive by integrating Indian Ed for all in my classrooms. By being a mentor, I wish to encourage empowerment and giving back to communities.



MSU-Billings

Kaitlin Hugs

 

My name is Kaitlin Hugs and I am a member of the Crow Tribe of Montana. My Crow name is Ihkawiia, which means “Star Woman.” I am going into my third year at Montana State University- Billings with a major in History Education and a minor in Native American Studies. My goal is to teach high school, hopefully in the Billings Public Schools system so that I can help Native American students that are coming off-reservation. I would also like to teach off reservation to help non-Natives become more culturally sound and aware of not only Native American culture but also their own culture. As a person who is half Native American and half Norwegian, I have always had to dance between the tightrope of two cultures. I am very proud of my heritage, as everyone should be. Being a history major, I also think that one’s heritage is one of the most important and key factors in life.

I am very thankful, blessed and honored to be a scholar in the American Indian Minority Achievement Office. I am also very proud to be representing my Crow Tribe and also my Norwegian roots! Aho.

 

Montana State University-Bozeman

Eric Marceau   My name is Eric Marceau and I’m a Montana WWAMI medical student at the University of Washington School of Medicine. I am a first descendant, Salish, originally from Charlo Montana on the Flathead Indian Reservation. I first started college at Salish Kootenai College back in 2010. While at Salish Kootenai College I obtained my associate's degree in general science. After graduation, I attended Stanford University where I graduated with my Bachelors of Science in 2017. I enjoy working with students and want to continue to see students succeed and to reach their goals of obtaining their degrees.
Connie Brownotter   Hello! My name is Connie Brownotter. I am an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. I graduated from Phillips Academy in 2014 and I am a Gates Millennium Scholar. I am currently a sophomore majoring in Early Childhood Education and minoring in Native American Studies. I want to attend graduate school someday and I plan to return to the Standing Rock Reservation to work with and for my people. I am passionate about working with individuals within my community to improve the quality of life for all of the members of my tribe. I am particularly interested in helping youth combat suicide, substance addiction, and mental health disorders. I am also interested in language revitalization, immersion school programs and bison restoration.
Dawson Demontiney  

My name is Dawson Demontiney and I am from Rocky Boy, Montana. I am a junior in civil-engineering and I am married and have three children, all boys. When I graduate I want to become a Project Engineer. After working under a Professional Engineer, I want to obtain my Professional Engineering Licence(P.E). After I obtain my P.E, I will start my own Design-Build company.

I want to become an engineer because, I would ultimately like to help improve our Native People’s way of life. One thing we lack on the reservation is engineers. I want to improve infrastructure, and buildings.

I enjoy being involved in college events. I have a passion for obtaining a large American Indian student center at MSU Bozeman. MSU has taught me how to become a problem solver. I am beyond grateful for the support I receive at MSU, I am also grateful for the people who have been mentoring me through college.

Rikki Ollinger  

My name is Rikki Ollinger I’m a senior at Montana State University. I’m proudly enrolled Blackfeet from Browning, Mt. My major here at MSU is Microbiology. I have had many challenges throughout my academic career, as have many Native students, however persistence and faith have guided me through this hard path. My future goal is to attend dental school, return home and join a team of Native dentist to aid in a future of outstanding oral health care.  I’m proud to be representing and encouraging other Native Students Across Montana, and give a special thanks to the American Indian Scholars program at MSU for the recommendation and encouragement to share my career obstacles and achievements with other Native students.

 

Montana Tech

Taymee Brandon   My name is Taymee Brandon, and I am a proud member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians community. As a Montana Native, I love the state and have lived here my entire life. I was born in Havre, Montana, and spent my childhood there. I graduated from C. M. Russell High School in Great Falls, Montana. I then attended the University of Montana to pursue my passion for science, and in May of 2016 I graduated cum laude with a Chemistry, B.S., University Scholar Distinction. My research and thesis were related to water quality, so I am continuing my work at Montana Technological University by pursuing an Environmental Engineering, M.S. with a water quality focus. I intend to use my degree and my research as a tool to improve the water quality in Montana and its reservations. Upon graduation, I will pursue a PhD in Analytical Chemistry or Oceanography. I am a Gates Millennium Scholar, Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership Scholar, and a member of the PNW-COSMOS community. I’m grateful that as an American Indian Student Scholar I have the opportunity to use my knowledge and my story to encourage and mentor other Native students to pursue higher education.
Kile Denny  

 

My name is Kile Denny. I am a Junior at Montana Tech. I was born and raised near Lame Deer, Montna on my family ranch. As a Northern Cheyenne descendant, my family and I understand the importance of staying connected to the land, as well as, maintaining what we have. I love where I live and couldn’t imagine calling any other place home. From the values of my past combined with my desire to preserve the future, my decision to pursue a degree in Environmental Engineering was founded. I am currently working towards my Bachelors degree and plan on getting my Masters degree. I’m a member of AmeriCorp, our campus AISES chapter and Environmental Engineers of Montana Tech. Each club understands the importance of volunteering and giving back to the community. From this, I look forward to the change and difference I will be able to make in other students’ lives.

Jessica Elliott  

Hello! My name is Jessica Elliott and I am a non-traditional student earning a bachelor’s degree in Mathematical Sciences and a minor in Biology at Montana Tech, and I am also studying at the University of Montana Western online to earn a teaching degree for K-12 education. I graduated with honors from Highlands College in May 2017, where I was active in social science research and traveled the state of Montana to present my research at community colleges. I am a descendant of the Blackfoot tribe, and I also have Spanish, German, Norwegian, and Scottish ancestry. My academic goal is to graduate in the Spring of 2020 with a Math major, Biology minor, and U of M Western education degree, so I can focus my energy toward guiding our nation’s youth on their journey to academic success.

 

The University of Montana Western

Emanuelle LaChance  

My name is Emanuelle LaChance, I am 20 years old.  This is my third year at the University of Montana Western and my second year of being a Native American Scholar for Western. I am an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. I also identify as Lower Brulé Lakota. My major is Secondary Education English and I plan to minor in Native American Studies.

Augustina Wofford  

My name is Augustina Wofford and I am a senior at the University of Montana Wester.  I am double majoring in Visual Art and Psychology and am planning to attend graduate school to focus on experimental psychology.  I chose to become a Native American scholar to help others, and have a chance to use what I have been learning in my psychology coursework.

Micah Bisbee  

My name is Micah Bisbee. I am 20 years old and am an enrolled member of the Nez Perce Tribe. I am from the Nez Perce Reservation, which is in Lapwai, Idaho. I am a transfer student coming from Pendleton, OR. I am a junior at the University of Montana Western and my major is Interdisciplinary Social Science. I love learning about my culture and other Native American tribes. I also enjoy having the chance to educate others about my culture. I plan on getting my degree and then continuing on to get my Master’s degree. I want to work in Washington D.C. to help with all Native American issues and help the Native people get the resources they deserve.

 

University of Montana

Photo of Sage Stone  

My name is Sage Stone. I’m an enrolled member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe in Rocky Boy, MT. I am in my second year of college. I like to hang out with my friends and play sports especially football and basketball. I’m involved in Greek life and my fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon.


Photo of Jordynn Paz   Hello! My name is Jordynn Paz. I am a sophomore at the University of Montana. I am from Garryowen, Montana and a member of the Crow Tribe. I am vice president of the Kyi-Yo student organization, a member of the American Indian Business Leaders, and I am in the Beta Phi Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma. I like to watch movies and sleep.
Photo of Shalbilyn Tall Whiteman  

My name is Shalbilyn Tall Whiteman. I am part of the Blackfeet Nation. I grew up in Browning, Montana on the Blackfeet Reservation. I am currently a sophomore majoring in Political Science and minoring in Social Work. Some of the student groups I participate in are the Kyi-Yo student organization, American Indian Business Leaders, Trio and American Indian Student Services Mentor.

Photo of Cody Campbell   Hau, My name is Cody Campbell. I am an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Central South Dakota. I'm a transfer student from Sinte Gleska University. I plan on pursuing a Psychology degree with a minor in Native American Studies. I enjoy playing/watching sports, fishing and spending time with family and friends. My future goals are to eventually help the Native community and youth to achieve their goals and encourage higher education.  Anpétu wasté yuhá po.

 

See Past Scholars...