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Doubling up: TrekNorth graduate already has degree from Leech Lake Tribal College

BEMIDJI--A lot of graduating seniors have their sights set on a two- or four-year college degree--but Eninatig Willow Miller's already one step ahead. The TrekNorth senior already has an associate's degree in Liberal Education with an emphasis in...

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Willow Miller already has received an associate’s degree from Leech Lake Tribal College and is set to receive her high school diploma from TrekNorth High School on Friday. (Maggi Stivers | Bemidji Pioneer)

 

 BEMIDJI-A lot of graduating seniors have their sights set on a two- or four-year college degree-but Eninatig Willow Miller's already one step ahead.

The TrekNorth senior already has an associate's degree in Liberal Education with an emphasis in science, technology, engineering, and math from Leech Lake Tribal College, and then she'll get started on an environmental science degree at Arizona State University in the fall.

In between, she'll get her high school diploma from Trek on Friday.

She expects to get her degree from ASU in two years, and then thinks she might work for the Leech Lake or White Earth tribal governments or maybe the Department of Natural Resources, which has a regional office in Bemidji.

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"I always loved science, especially earth science. It just attracted me from a pretty young age," Miller said. "It's just important to get our education and us to have degrees, so maybe we can come back later to the tribe or locally... We can use that."

Miller's parents both have eighth-grade educations, she said, but her grandmother, who is pursuing a doctorate, teaches at the tribal college and impressed upon Miller the importance of education and achieving your goals. Miller's aunt is a middle school science teacher and inspired the soon-to-be-graduate to pursue a degree.

"It's not just for me," Miller said. "I'm doing it for my parents also...I want other indigenous Native American girls and boys to say that they can achieve the same goal as me. Go to college classes while you're in high school, you can achieve that goal. You have no limits."

Miller attended an Ojibwe immersion school through sixth grade and is fluent in the language now.

"Since I am Ojibwe, it's in my teaching to take care of the Earth," she said. "If I work through the DNR or through the Band of Leech lake, I can achieve those goals."

 

If you go:

What: TrekNorth High School graduation

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When: 6 p.m. Friday, May 26

Where: Hagg-Sauer Room 100 at Bemidji State University

Joe Bowen is an award-winning reporter at the Duluth News Tribune. He covers schools and education across the Northland.

You can reach him at:
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