by Sonni Ochoa
(Havre, MT, US)
Scholarship Essay - This scholarship contains past, present, future goals and my passion for family, academic, and peer to peer ethic. I also state how I would use the scholarship if awarded, which may allow the readers to know the importance of scholarships to students, and identify what they help to promote in society.
My name is Sonni Ochoa; I am a freshman at Montana State University - Northern. I just registered for the spring semester. My major is Education. I am from the Chippewa - Cree Rocky Boy Reservation here in Montana. I lived on the reservation for a little over ten years. I now live in Havre, Montana to be closer to the college. I am originally from Las Vegas, Nevada… an entire different life to me now. I never knew about Native Americans or reservations until I moved to Montana. My Grandmother told my mother to move up here because she knew how important to us knowing our own culture would be. It took me a long time to understand that, but I am so grateful to her for introducing her grandchildren to our history. In Las Vegas I knew that I was part Native American but as a child living in the city, I didn’t know what that meant.
I graduated from a Native American school in 2008 and a week later I attended Stone Child College, which is a tribal college. I believe that being surrounded by my own culture and people I strongly benefited from the comfort of the community. I knew that I belonged there and all the teachers, staff, and students had that same comfort. Even though I wasn’t ready to tackle college a week after graduation and I did not receive any degree from Stone Child I did learn a lot and changed for the better. High school was a struggle for me; I didn’t know who I was or what direction to take. I had a lot of trouble figuring out where I fit in; sports didn’t work, music wasn’t my strong suit and prom…dear gosh prom was not a marked day in my calendar! Then when I was a junior, I had this history class. New teacher, new syllabus…and I remember when he was going through the plans for the year, he mentioned Native American History… now that was something I liked, something that interested me. I had all these preconceived views and opinions of everything, man, I really thought I knew it all! I remember what I loved most about the class was our main assignments were to identify ourselves with the people. All he asked of us was to compare our lives to how they lived. After a few weeks of doing this it hit me…I finally realized that the history we learned was my history, my family, my ancestors. Now I’m going to tell you, this plays a huge role in where I am at today in my life.
Fast forward a couple of years to when I attend Stone Child…I wasn’t quite prepared for college, I was only seventeen then and fresh out of high school. The entire college was built to express culture from wall to wall, floor to ceiling. I went in to register for classes and ended up walking throughout the college looking at everything, reading everything, to me it was beauty and art, it was incredible. So a couple of weeks later I had now started school and am in a speech class when this young kid comes in with his hat backwards, pants sagging down, and he is obviously angry. He comes in with this very demanding tone interrupting class and goes on about how he needs to register today and right now will work best for his schedule because he is court ordered to attend school, get a job, or sit out his time. My instructor looks over at him and says, “Young man, I am in the middle of a class right now, but that makes no difference to you I see, I’ll tell you what, I will sign your sheet there in half hour you come back and bring me a sheet of paper stating why you want to be here and how you ended up here ok?” The kid got upset but did as she asked. At the end of the semester he had barely passed any of his other classes, but had excelled in hers. So I went back and thought about everything she assigned ten essays, a daily journal, impromptu speeches, research from five different medias…how did he do this?! I asked him and Ill never forget what he said.. He told me, “because she doesn’t get mad at me and tell me what to do. She knows Im here to stay out of jail and she doesn’t make me pay for that, like
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