S.D. - Zannita Fast Horse takes care of her daughter and husband,
tutors and mentors students full time, and maintains a 3.8 point
GPA. This is all after a terrifying return to college which is now
a very pleasant and comfortable experience at Oglala Lakota College
on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Horse, a woman who has a dream and a goal that only higher education
can help her fulfill, is a mother to 4-year-old Zannita, who has
seizures and a husband who suffered brain and heart damage due to
a stroke while in the military. But she still finds the time to
study environmental sciences at OLC with the plan that one day she
will work as a park ranger.
now takes 20 credit hours a week and works an additional 20 to 40
hours as a mentor and tutor to other students while finding time
for her husband and daughter.
wasnt easy at first. "The faculty at the college center
encouraged me. Dr. Jones (speech instructor) gave me self-esteem.
the faculty are great. They make you feel comfortable. The students
are nice and make you feel comfortable. I hadnt been in school
for 10 years," she said.
voluntarily help you with problems, it becomes a family."
Horses day includes mentoring and tutoring other students
while attending classes all day; picking up her daughter from Head
Start and day care in the afternoon, preparing supper, attending
to her daughters needs and after a full day and evening, it
is time to study. That usually starts at around 9 p.m. when she
can steal the necessary time.
Horse and Corrine Zephier competed at a national gathering of the
American Indian Higher Education Association in March and won second
place in Duo Oral Interpretation. Fast Horse also took second place
at the gathering in persuasive speech communication.
two were honored with a special award for achievement by OLC staff
and faculty for their work at AIHEC.
addition to student of the year award, Fast Horse tied in vote numbers
for president of the student congress and then lost by only one
vote. The AIHEC Student Congress is an organization of 25,000 students
that attend the more than 32 tribal colleges across the nation.
Horse went into the military two years after high school and served
for seven years. She enrolled at OLC after active duty and time
spent as a reservist.
Zephier juggles a lot of tasks, yet maintains a positive attitude
that rubs off on her children and fellow students. Although far
from being a traditional student, her determination and will to
improve through the learning process has made her a popular student
who is regarded by the faculty and other students.
a full-time employee of the postal service, is raising three children
and holds down a full complement of classes with a 3.6 GPA. Zephiers
oldest son, 18, is about to head to college, her 12-year-old sixth
grade twins will follow in their mothers footsteps.
makes Zephier run? She graduated from Little Wound High School and
because of some family problems did not further her education. She
had many starts and stops in her education, but always, family or
other roadblocks showed up.
said about every five years she started and then faded out. From
1978 - 1982 she worked as a teachers aide and from 1982 -
1985 the U.S. Army commanded her attention.
wasnt until 1999 that she returned to the classroom and she
hasnt stopped since. She got her jump start with a Bill and
Linda Gates Foundation scholarship. She was nominated by many of
her instructors for the scholarship, which is awarded to full-time
students with children that have a high GPA.
the time she had a 4.0 GPA, but with the now full-time job at the
post office and the three children, she said is has taken a toll
on her grades, down to a 3.6 GPA, a more than acceptable grade for
want to be a roll model for my children and let them know you are
never too old to learn. They give me encouragement."
is studying for possibly three degrees; entrepreneurship, computers
and office technology. She takes her education a year at a time
and will not be pinned down on a possible graduation date. She speaks
like a contented professional student, who "enjoys school."
go to school for the socialization. Ive made friends in all
age groups. My kids encourage me even though they are busy. Sometimes
I miss their school activities. I tell them to be honest [about
my school] and they tell me, good job."
should someone who has a solid career with the federal postal service
push herself? "Education is a pathway to daily skills, to life
skills; an education is needed," Zephier said.
Lakota College has 10 centers and the majority of students attend
classes at the centers. Distance learning is also possible at OLC.
is one of the first tribal colleges among the 32 tribal colleges
in the country. Oglala Lakota College began as an education center
in 1971 and used the accreditation of the states colleges
and universities. The first associates degree was graduated
in 1974 and the school became Oglala Sioux Community College in
1978. In 1983 it received its own accreditation from the North Central
Accreditation Association and it now offers four-year degree programs
as well as graduate degrees in education.