BSU Celebrates Native American Graduates
44 graduating Native American students were honored at Bemidji State University’s 39th Annual American Indian Students Recognition Banquet. Senior Andrea Goodwin was also named Outstanding American Indian Student of the Year.
In addition, more than 100 students were recognized at the April 18 event for outstanding academic achievement, including a record 29 Native American President’s List honorees who posted perfect 4.0 grade-point averages during the spring, summer or fall semesters in 2018.
“Events like this are important for many reasons,” Bill Blackwell Jr., director of the American Indian Resource Center, said. “First, it gives us a chance to recognize the amazing academic achievements our students have. Second, it allows the families of our students a chance to come on campus as they have a large part in our students’ journeys. Lastly, the banquet is rooted in our culture.”
Goodwin, a senior social work major from Red Lake, Minn., who transferred to BSU from Leech Lake Tribal College, will graduate as a third-generation BSU alumna, joining her mother and grandmother.
Other award recipients recognized during the banquet included:
- Serena Graves, a sophomore indigenous studies major from Redby, Minn., who won the Earl Nyholm Culture and Language Award,
- Jacqueline Allen, a freshman nursing major from Flandreau, S.D., who won the AIRC Community Leadership Award, and
- Chelsey Jourdain, a junior elementary education major from Bemidji, who received the Roger Aitken Leadership Award.
The Nyholm award recognizes a BSU student who provides outstanding contribution and leadership for the AIRC’s language and cultural programs; the Aitken award recognizes outstanding on-campus leadership; and the Community Leadership Award recognizes contributions to the Bemidji community.
In addition to 29 President’s List honorees, the banquet recognized 82 Dean’s List honorees who posted GPAs of 3.25–3.99, and 28 Academic Achievement Award winners with GPAs between 3.00–3.24.
Stoles were presented to BSU’s 41 American Indian undergraduates by Harvey Roy III, president of BSU’s American Indian Alumni Association; Dr. Faith C. Hensrud, president of BSU and Northwest Technical College; and other BSU administrators and faculty. Three students who will receive master’s degrees at the university’s 100th Commencement ceremony on May 10 were also recognized.
Dennis Olson Jr., commissioner at the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, provided the keynote address. Former executive director of the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, Olson was appointed to the Office of Higher Education by Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov.-elect Peggy Flanagan in December 2018.
The Ogidaaki Singers provided the banquet’s welcome song, following the invocation led by Dr. Anton Treuer, professor of Ojibwe, and performed the honor song during the 2018-19 graduating students presentation. The evening’s dinner of Red Lake walleye was provided by Ogaakaaning Enterprises.