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Darting off to Dartmouth: TrekNorth grad is Ivy League-bound

The future looks bright for TrekNorth senior Sara Schomburg, who plans to attend Dartmouth.

BEMIDJI -- Sara Schomburg beamed as she toured what will soon be her new home.

"When I was getting a (campus) tour, the people would just pass by and yell, 'Come to Dartmouth!,' and you could tell that the people there, they were just really happy, and if you're not happy, what's the point?" she said.

Sara, who come fall will begin attending Dartmouth College, is among 22 seniors at TrekNorth High School who graduate at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Thompson Recital Hall in the Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex at BSU.

She admitted that she was a bit ambitious in her college applications, applying also to Stanford and Cornell. But there was never a question as to where she wanted to go: Her heart was set on Dartmouth.

"It was always a goal," she said. "I was really nervous about applying there because I honestly didn't think I would get in."

Not only was Sara accepted, she also earned a full-ride scholarship to attend the Ivy League college she has long worked toward. Why Dartmouth? Sara said the college has a great undergraduate research program with a very strong Native American program. She plans to double-major in neuroscience and Native American studies.

"I don't so much know yet if I want to go into medicine or public health," said Sara, who is Lakota, a member of the Cheyenne River tribe. "I know there's a lot of diabetes and obesity on reservations and also my mom, her health isn't as good because she smoked all of her life. It is all kind of personal to me. ... I want to help."

Since seventh grade, Sara has been attending Trek, where she is president of the varsity choir, and has taken part is all of the school's outdoor adventure trips.

"I have loved it here," she said recently, speaking in the commons area at Trek, "just the opportunities through the outdoor program adventure program, the service-learning program they were amazing and I wouldn't trade them for anything. I've gotten to summit a 14,000-foot peak in Colorado (Mount Blanca) and I've gone hiking in the Wind River Range in Wyoming."

Similarly, she hopes to hike the Appalachian Trail while living out east and was pleased to learn that part of freshmen orientation at Dartmouth consists of an outdoors trip.

"That really correlates well to what I've grown to love," she said.

Trek, she continued, has really helped to foster and grow her love of giving back to the local community. Through the school's service-learning program, she went to Chicago, where students volunteered at food shelves and worked at homeless shelters.

She plans to continue with similar programs as her future, and her career, take shape.

"I've always thought that if I do end up in medicine, that I would really love to work for a reservation that really needs it, like maybe Red Lake or Pine Ridge in South Dakota," she said. "I'll also really strongly consider Doctors Without Borders."

She long has had a strong desire to pursue a career in the medical field, but it was strengthened even further last summer, when she was among 25 students throughout the country who were selected to attend the Association of American Indian Physicians' National Native American Youth Initiative program in Washington, D.C.

"We got to hear some really influential speakers, like the president of the (Indian Health Services), Yvette Roubideaux," she said. Other sessions focused on financial aid opportunities and career options. There, she met one friend who is now attending Dartmouth.

At Trek, Sara has taken most, if not all, of the AP classes it has offered and if she was attending elsewhere, she would already have about 30 college credits for transfer. Dartmouth, however, no longer accepts AP for credit.

That didn't seem to bother Sara, who said she's just extremely excited for the future, "to keep moving and traveling and learning."

She acknowledged that she's come a long way, as her parents, including her mom Karen, and her late father never went to college, but said she was taught to believe it was all possible.

"My mom, she always pushed me to follow my dreams," Sara said. "Growing up, in poverty and (her) not going to school, she knew it was the only way out. Me, I've always felt driven."