STUDENT SUCCESS STORIES

Jordan May was born and raised in North Dakota where he worked various jobs.  He always wanted to move to Red Lake to meet family he never knew and learn more about Red Lake history.  He started working for the Red Lake Homeless Shelter as an on-call advocate around the same time he enrolled at Red Lake Nation College.  In 2010, because he was a full-time employee and student,  he had to start work early and leave late to complete his work.  Jordan graduated in 2011.

In 2014, Jordan became the Executive Director of the Red Lake Homeless Shelter when the former director resigned; in 5 years he worked his way from on-call advocate to Executive Director.  This was a big transition for Jordan.  He learned his new position very quickly and saved the entire program’s grant funding, ensuring the homeless shelter remained open.  Though difficult at first, Jordan quickly learned how manage the homeless shelter, even writing grants for additional funding and much needed repairs.

As of Jan. 2018, Jordan was still the Executive Director for the Red Lake Homeless Shelter.  He has improved all aspects of the homeless shelter and plans to become more active in the community.  Jordan’s passion for helping people has motivated him to work toward running for Tribal Council as the Red Lake Representative.  He also plans on continuing his education by taking online classes with the University of Minnesota – Duluth, so he can earn his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Tribal Administration & Governance.  Jordan believes attending Red Lake Nation College was one of the best decisions he ever made because it lead to many bigger and better things in his life.

Jordan May

Born and raised in Minneapolis, Jamie King has always had a desire to attend college; however, school 

plans changed for her with the birth of her daughter at age 17. In addition to the birth of her daughter, 

Jamie moved to Red Lake and became the main caretaker of her ill Grandmother for 15 years. Life 

circumstances caused a delay in Jamie’s plan, but it did not stop her from accomplishing the goals she set 

out to at a young age. At the age of 27, Jamie earned her GED and began pursuing her associate’s degree 

at Red Lake Nation College in 2013.

Life continued to throw Jamie obstacles to overcome while she pursued her degree. During her second 

semester of college, circumstances in Jamie’s family required her to juggle school work along with 

challenging family situations. During tough times, Jamie often though to herself, “If I quit, what kind of 

example would that set for my kids? I know they’re capable of doing the same [attending college], I 

didn’t want them to see me quit.” 

Jamie went on to be an extremely successful student, receiving honors for academic performance as well 

as serving as a member of Student Council. Her dedication and commitment to Red Lake Nation College 

served her well. She has been employed by the college as the Bookstore Associate, Financial Aid Assistant, and Business Office Specialist. Jamie reminds other students, “Don’t doubt yourself. You can accomplish anything you put your mind to.”

Jamie King

Don't Doubt Yourself!

Linda Lussier

Passion for Education

Linda bore the sole responsibility of raising three children on her own. Early on, Linda worried about her children’s education more so than her own, which resulted in limited options for pursuing a degree. At one point in time, Linda had attempted college outside of the Reservation, but due to life circumstances, she was unable to complete her degree. Instead, Linda worked at the Casino for 12 years, then began working for Red Lake School District as a paraprofessional. It was while she was in the Red Lake Nation College building, assisting with absentee voting, that Linda noticed other students registering for class. It was at that moment that Linda decided to register as a part-time student. She realized that she could fulfill her desire to pursue a college degree here on the Reservation rather than commuting to Bemidji or beyond.

 

Linda pushed herself to get good grades and to be at school every day regardless of other circumstances. During her time at RLNC, Linda’s mother had severe health concerns that required her attention; however, she still managed to complete assignments, remained in touch with her instructors, and attended class. Linda is especially thankful for her supportive family who encouraged her to finish school. Linda believes that her ability to finish school is impacting others, specifically her family members. She hopes that her successful completion of college will influence not only her children and grandchildren, but others as well. As a paraprofessional, Linda continues to encourage young children to consider college. She likes to tell others, “The College is right here on the Reservation, use it.”


Linda was awarded Student of the Year and Valedictorian for the 2013-2014 school year.  Due to her leadership skills, she was also selected Student Council President.

Lucy Barrett

Lucy Barrett grew up in the Little Rock area of the Red Lake Indian Reservation, which is located in Northern

Minnesota, about 90 miles south of the Canadian border. Lucy was raised in a small, close-knit family of

three children and their parents. After high school, she worked, eventually married, and then raised four

children of her own. 


In 2005, Lucy retired from her position at the Red Lake Hospital after a long, successful career in the medical

records field. Most people look forward to a restful retirement and relaxation, traveling or enjoying their

favorite hobby. Lucy Barrett is no ordinary person, however. At the age of 66, she enrolled in college for the

first time in her life and decided to take “just one class.” “I went to the Red Lake College to sign up for one

class and I came home with three,” Lucy laughs. “I didn’t really plan on being a full- time student. I just

wanted to take a computer class so I could learn all the buttons!” However, Lucy’s excitement grew as she

learned about RLNC’s Indian Studies and other courses, and in two years, she completed an Associate in

Arts degree with a cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.73.

 

While a student at the Red Lake Nation College, Lucy inspired the entire Tribal College community by being

the “Grandma student” who was observed putting in hundreds of quiet study hours, and who was known by

all to be a serious student who worked hard on her assignments and papers. Due to her strong academic

performance at the Red Lake Nation College, Lucy was awarded a Senior Academic Scholarship from Bemidji

State University (BSU), and in typical fashion, Lucy won the hearts of BSU students, staff and faculty and

became a legend there. According to Dr. Ben Burgess, Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies, “Lucy

was a leader in her classes and one of most influential students on campus due to her willingness to share

her extensive life experiences and knowledge of Tribal history and sovereignty. When Lucy spoke in class, everybody listened.” Each semester while at BSU, Lucy was named to the Dean’s List, and in 2009, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Indian Studies.


After graduating from BSU, this amazing elder went on to earn her Eminence Credentials from the Red Lake Nation Tribe as a certified expert in Indian Studies. Lucy Barrett has been a member of the faculty at Red Lake Nation College—where her own higher education began—as well as leading community education classes, also at the college. She continues to inspire students and to use her education to keep the Ojibwe language and culture alive in her native homeland.

A Retirement Journey

Jerilyn "Nikki" Jourdain

Seeking PhD

After graduating from high school, Jerilyn “Nikki” Jourdain enrolled in a state college, but soon dropped out and began working. At the age of 26, she found herself with two children and another one on the way, working one “dead-end” job after another. Hungry for something more, Nikki walked into the Red Lake Nation College “with no idea of what I was doing,” and that day, she began an educational journey that promises to become one of lifelong learning.                                                                                     

                             

“After classes started,” says Nikki, "I found that I absolutely loved college. The instructors, the supportive atmosphere, and the fact that RLNC is only a mile from my home all played important roles in my success as a student.”

 

Nikki, who was named Student of the Year, graduated from RLNC in 2008 with a GPA of 4.0, and continued her studies in Environmental Studies (including internships and science research), earning a B.S. degree from Ashford University in 2013.


Nikki’s goal is to continue her education in the natural sciences, eventually earning a PhD, and using that education to increase science literacy on the Red Lake Reservation. “Traditionally," she says, “our culture has relied on personal observation and passed-down knowledge of things like medicinal plants, agricultural techniques, and hunting and fishing cycles. We can reclaim our position as “natural scientists” only if we make it important again in our own society—and I’m going to be a part of that in some way!”

Rob Beaulieu’s work history dates back to his pre-teen years, when he began working with family members in the fishing industry.  At the age of 13, however, Rob “got sick of fishing,” and hitchhiked from Red Lake to Minneapolis/St. Paul to live with some older sisters and to find a job.  Unfortunately, he did not yet have a Social Security number; furthermore, he discovered that, according to Child Labor Laws, one must be 14 years old to be eligible for employment in Minnesota.    
 
Not to be deterred, however, Rob renewed his job search as soon as he reached his 14th birthday, and in spite of taking three hours to complete a job application, he was soon gainfully employed. In 1996, Rob returned home to Red Lake, completed requirements for a GED, and enrolled in classes at Leech Lake Tribal College.  By this time, however, work and family responsibilities made it very difficult for him to make the daily, 55-mile commute to Leech Lake, so he dropped out of college and worked full-time. Although Rob was determined to obtain a college education, it would be some 17 years later before this strong Anishinaabe man—now a single dad with four children—would be able to complete the requirements for an Associate Degree and graduate with honors from Red Lake Nation College. 

 

This is only the beginning for Rob Beaulieu, though, for his next goal is to earn a four-year degree at the University of Minnesota Crookston and to pursue a career in Information Technology, Business Management, or Health Management Systems—and those who know him have no doubt that Rob will accomplish that dream.

Rob Beaulieu

Persistence Pays

Phyllis Norcoss

Survivor and Overcomer

At the age of 14, Phyllis’ mother died, leaving her and her nine siblings with a father, who—unwilling to care for his children—immediately placed them in foster care.  Phyllis spent her next four years in a group home, attending several high schools, but dropping out during her sophomore year.  Determined to complete her high school education, however, she graduated from a GED program in 2003, and in 2004, she moved back to the Red Lake Reservation.
 
By the time she was 18 years old, Phyllis was pregnant and working at a variety of minimum-wage jobs. She was also in an abusive relationship with her baby’s father—a relationship which, in 2008, almost cost Phyllis her life. 
After escaping that relationship, Phyllis fell in love with an intelligent, young man who has a strong work ethic and treats her with respect.  In 2010, the two of them welcomed a second child. 

Tired of having no money for childcare or other necessities, however, Phyllis decided that if she and her family hoped to “get ahead,” she must have a college degree, and in 2011, both she and her boyfriend enrolled as full-time students at Red Lake Nation College.  Both graduated with honors in the Class of 2013.

 

Phyllis next plan is to pursue a four-year degree in either Business or Education at Bemidji State University.  Phyllis has proven again and again that she will persist in accomplishing her dreams—in spite of the obstacles she may face—and the Red Lake Nation is confident that she is going to touch the lives of many on her reservation for years to come.

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