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Leech Lake Tribal College graduate Dylan Chase juggles school, work and family

Leech Lake Tribal College graduate Dylan Chase has a lot on his plate. Aside from his studies in LLTC’s law enforcement program, Chase juggles being a father to his three children -- ages 7, 5 and 1 -- as well as driving a bus for the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School District.

Dylan Chase Class of 2022 LLTC.jpg
Law enforcement student Dylan Chase will graduate as part of Leech Lake Tribal College's class of 2022 at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 14, at the Northern Lights Casino in Walker.
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CASS LAKE — Leech Lake Tribal College graduate Dylan Chase has a lot on his plate.

Aside from his studies in LLTC’s law enforcement program, Chase juggles being a father to his three children — ages 7, 5 and 1 — as well as driving a bus for the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School District.

“The biggest challenge I’ve faced throughout college has been scheduling,” Chase said. “Working full-time, going to school and being a parent is pretty tough, but I got through it.”

The college experience

A member of the Leech Lake Nation, Chase chose LLTC because of its proximity to his home in Bena as well as its law enforcement program. However, he initially considered becoming a conservation officer before changing his mind to becoming a tribal police officer.

“I wanted to be a conservation officer because I enjoy being outside, hunting and fishing and all that,” Chase said. “I just ended up changing my mind and when I did, I was already halfway through the program.”

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Chase also completed a summer internship with the Leech Lake Tribal Police, which more or less sealed the deal of what he wanted to do.

His post-graduation plans are laid out plainly enough.

“The day after graduation, I’ll have to do some more skills training for defense tactics and other things as part of a ‘mini-academy,’” Chase added. “After that, I’ll do a post-test to become licensed as a police officer in the state of Minnesota. Then after that, I plan on applying with the tribal police.”

Chase appreciates his college experience and even credited the coronavirus pandemic for making his life a little bit easier schedule-wise when most classes switched to online delivery.

“It would’ve been nice to be in class having hands-on lessons (during the pandemic), but it didn’t really affect me too much,” Chase said. “It actually helped me more than anything.”

His time at LLTC also enabled him to learn more about his Anishinaabe roots given his favorite class, Intro to Anishinaabe Studies.

“Though the class wasn’t even for law enforcement, I learned a lot,” Chase added. “It was fun learning about our history.”

Continued support

This school year, Chase was recognized at an April 4 virtual ceremony as one of 35 students of the year for the American Indian College Fund , which provides financial support for Native American college students across the country.

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Chase had been nominated for this award, after which he filled out an application to be considered by the American Indian College Fund.

“A week later, I found out I got it,” he said. “It felt good getting some recognition for all the hard work, so I was pretty happy about it.”

Chase credited his parents as his biggest mentors, noting their continuous support throughout his education.

“My parents have always pushed me to do what I have to and they provide words of encouragement when I need it most,” he said.

Providing this same support for his children, Chase looks forward to one less commitment that will come with graduation, though his spare time will still be limited.

“I’m just happy that I’m going to be done honestly. I’m kind of tired of school,” he left off. “When I am done, I may be more open to watching movies with my kids or playing video games, but I generally don’t have much spare time.”

LLTC's graduation ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 14, at the Northern Lights Casino in Walker.

Daltyn Lofstrom is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer focusing on education and community stories.
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