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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


June 1, 2002 - Issue 62


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Creighton Graduation Especially Memorable for American Indians

credits: Nakima Mills of Rosebud, S.D., receives Creighton University's highest award, the Spirit of Creighton, during commencement Saturday at the Omaha Civic Auditorium. Flanking Mills are John Cernech, vice president for student services, and the Rev. John Schlegel, president of Creighton. Kurt Morrison of Littleton, Colo., was the other Spirit of Creighton award winner.
Nakima Mills of Rosebud, S.D., receives Creighton University's highest award, the Spirit of CreightonOMAHA, NE - Saturday was a happy time for the parents, grandparents, other relatives and friends of Creighton University's 1,180 graduates.

But for three American Indian families from South Dakota, the day was especially memorable.

Not only did they watch their daughters stride across the stage at the Omaha Civic Auditorium to accept their diplomas, they saw the university's highest student award - the Spirit of Creighton - bestowed on one of their own.

The awards are given each year to a man and a woman who represent the best qualities of the university's founding family, brothers Edward and John Creighton and Edward's wife, Mary Lucretia Creighton.

The winners' names are kept secret and announced right before the benediction.

So when Nakima Mills' name was called, she and her family were taken completely by surprise.

"I'm real, real proud of her," said Mills' elated mother, Rhoda, after the ceremony. "She's been a very hard worker. It's a great accomplishment."

Kurt Morrison of Littleton, Colo., was the other Spirit of Creighton award winner.

The Rev. John Schlegel, president of the Jesuit-run university, reminded the graduates that using one's talents and education to help others is at the heart of Jesuit education.

"Your Creighton education enables you to do well for yourself and do good for others," he said.

Mills and her fellow Indian classmates plan to do just that.

Mills will begin study for a master's degree in sociology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha this fall.

Jessica Graham of Rapid City, S.D., plans to get a job and then start work on a master's degree in computer science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Nicole "Nikki" Haukaas of Rosebud, S.D., a nursing graduate, will take her state board exams this summer and then work at the Ponca Tribe's health and wellness center in Omaha.

Jesuits have long ties to Indian missions. They founded the Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, S.D., where Graham and Mills went to school.

Tami Buffalohead-McGill, coordinator of the university's multicultural student services and support, said Creighton's aggressive campaign to recruit American Indians and support them once they get to campus is paying off. Creighton enrolled 53 Indians this year, she said.

The graduation ceremony was the 111th in Creighton's history.

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