We are proud of all of our RLNC students who have the courage to face their fears and attend college.  However, we would like to bring your attention to some of our outstanding Student Success Stories.  


Here are several stories of RLNC students who have overcome challenges to achieve excellence in the classroom and in life.  These unique stories show that Red Lake Members can achieve academic success if given the same educational opportunities as other USA citizens in other communities.


This is why it is so vital that the RLNC remain open to serve the RLNC reservation community.  If the RLNC were not open, many of these incredible success stories might never happen.  RLNC provides the hope and access to educational opportunity that is not present  anywhere else on the Red Lake reservation. 


We need and appreciate your help.  Miigwech for your support for our college!  

Salena Beasley

Four for Four: By Wendy Gorsskopf, Ph.D.

Red Lake Nation College student Salena Beasley is four for four: 4 courses, 4.0 grade-point average, 4 scholarships – all in her first 4 months of college!

“If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right!” Salena Beasley, 40, decided emphatically as she signed up for her first four college classes at Red Lake Nation College. Although Beasley is the sole provider of her three children and has a demanding 40-hour job as an Administrative Officer at Red Lake Chemical Health Programs, she is earning a 4.0 GPA and has already been awarded four scholarships.

If it were technically possible, her GPA would be even higher than a 4.0, as her overall grades, averaged, is 103.07%. In MUSC 1100 (Anishinaabe Music and Dance), her current grade is 106.67. In MATH 1100 (Math Reasoning), she has earned a 100.39%. In ENGL 1100, her extra-credit work put her over top, to 104.41%. And in ANISH 1100 (Introduction to Anishinaabe Studies), her grade is 101.11%. Wow.

All her hard work is paying off, literally, in scholarship money. In four short months since she began studies at Red Lake Nation College, she has been awarded a total of $5,756.00, broken down as follows: 

  • Red Lake Scholarship awarded $1800.00 on March 19, 2019;

  • American Indian College Fund/Tribal College and University Fund awarded $ 1,100.00 on March 29, 2019;

  • Minnesota Indian Scholarship Program awarded $2,000.00 on April 12, 2019;

  • Minnesota State awarded $856.00 on Apr 19, 2019.


Who IS this superstar student, employee, mother, and community member?

Salena graduated from Red Lake High School as Valedictorian in 1996. After high school she did not have the courage or financial support to enroll in college. She doubted herself. College is a big commitment, and she felt that college required more than she was capable of.  She always felt that “now” was not the right time to start; everything else seemed to get in the way. She successfully talked herself out of it for 20 years.

She finally decided to enroll in college for personal as well as professional reasons. She wants to be a role model to her children, to show them that college is not as intimidating as it appears from the outside. She wants to share with her children and fellow students her four keys to success: Sacrifice, communication, organization, and discipline. She sacrifices going out with friends and taking trips. She communicates with her professors on a regular basis. She organizes her schedule to assure she has time to complete assignments by their deadlines.

Professionally, she plans to use her education to improve the skills she already has, especially her writing skills, so she can be an even greater asset to her employer and the communities it serves. She has been working at Red Lake Chemical Health Programs since 2002, and, in her current position as Administrative Officer, she writes a lot of grants. Grant-writing is something that she taught herself by reading grants over the years, then applying the skills she learned from previous applications. She writes substance use disorder grants, grants for State and Federal funding agencies, for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and for Department of Human Services. She even partnered with Indian Health Services on a Health Resources and Services Administration grant. Improving her persuasive and research writing skills will help in all manners of grant writing, many of which require intensive data to make a case for eligibility and need. Learning the skills necessary to write successful grants is beneficial to the whole community.

After graduating from RLNC, Salena plans to transfer to Bemidji State University, where she will major in either Business Administration, or Social Work, with a minor in Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counseling. Social work is her passion because she loves helping people. To her, “It’s the best feeling ever to see someone going through their recovery journey”, and that someone thanking her months later “still gives [her] goose bumps.” Business administration will be helpful in her work of developing and implementing policy and budgets, and in submitting grant applications and reports.

Salena has every right to be optimistic about her future: “The possibilities are endless. And I’m going to figure it out.”

Liz Barrett


Elizabeth Barrett has always loved learning.  Her passion for learning and reading was instilled by her Mom who regularly read to her as a baby and toddler.  As Liz grew more interested in books, her Mom noticed “Liz” patiently savored the quiet reading and learning time.  Therefore, her Mom gradually spent more and more time reading and teaching her inquisitive child.  It all paid off with Liz talking early and doing everything at an advanced level as a child and student.


Eventually, Liz skipped the 8th grade and began taking colleges classes at RLNC at the age of 15.  She took many RLNC courses as dual high school/college credit and finished Red Lake High School early, as a 17 year old. After taking college courses at RLNC and Bemidji State University from ages 15 to 17, she applied and was accepted at Dartmouth College.  Dartmouth is one of the world’s great academic institutions, and a member of the distinguished Ivy League, along with Harvard and Yale.


Liz took many courses at RLNC to help prepare her for college.  She indicated she relied heavily on her College Algebra lessons and skills taught by RLNC math Instructor Jeff Jones to get through her Calculus I class at Dartmouth.  Liz’s mother Rose (a new RLNC Team Member, as our Student Success Counselor) even credited Liz with helping her get though the College Algebra course that they took together at RLNC.  So it looks like the student has become the teacher for her own Mom and Rose could not be more proud of her daughter Liz.


It is obvious Liz has a love of learning since she has always taken her school work and academic life very serious.  She graduated with a 4.04 GPA from Red Lake High School.  This is over an A average!  Of course, this made her the Valedictorian for her graduating class.  Recall, this is a 4.04 GPA for someone who skipped a year of school and graduated early!  Further, while a student at RLNC she was one of our very best students as a 15 and 16 year old. 


Liz is just getting started.  She is on a Pre-Med track with an interest in women’s health.  She has strong hobbies with passions for photography and writing.   Her future goals include medical school and a career in medicine.  She is already off to a good start at Dartmouth with an A and two B’s in her first term there.  Not bad for a 17 year old reservation kid at Dartmouth!


Liz Barrett is one of our greatest RLNC success stories.  We are very proud of her outstanding accomplishments at such a young age.  This shows that if our Red Lake reservation students are given educational opportunities, they can achieve amazing things, and compete in the top academic fields anywhere.

Story submitted by Dan King

James Cloud


James Cloud has always had strong determination to succeed and a desire for excellence.  This competitive flare of James had its outlet in high school as a basketball player on Red Lake’s famed Ogichidaag team.  In high school, he admits he was a descent student (a “B” average) who put more effort and energy into sports rather than academics. 


In 2009, he had a life changing experience.  His son, Jaycel, was born and college plans were put on the back shelf while his baby boy immediately became his top priority.  However, once his son started attending school, James refocused on his college plans and began attending RLNC with his life partner, fellow RLNC student, Eliza Lussier.  This is a highly effective life partnership in that they agreed to work hard to support and push each other to excel in college.  This team partnership must be working well for them since both James and his girlfriend, Eliza, have perfect 4.0 GPA’s at RLNC!


James was fortunate to have been raised in a strong cultural environment where Ojibwe was spoken in his house.  As a result of his strong cultural upbringing from his Grandpa, James was a fluent speaker and sang as a member of many drum groups.  Practicing his language and culture has always been a major part of his life.  He regularly attends spiritual ceremonies and pow wows.  James also participates as a member of our RLNC Drum Group.  The RLNC Drum Group performs at various RLNC ceremonies and special events.


Both James and Eliza are planning on graduating from RLNC in the Spring of 2018 with 4.0 GPA’s.  This would place them as Co-Valedictorians and both will give speeches at our RLNC Graduation Ceremonies.  This will be a fantastic moment for both members of this exceptional partnership.


In addition to achieving highly successful academic performance at RLNC, James is very excited that he has discovered his major life passion for the future.  He has discovered what he wants to do with his life.  He found that he loves working toward preserving and protecting our language and culture through Tribal Libraries and Archives.  His future goals are now to get advanced degrees in Library Sciences and then return to the Red Lake reservation and help preserve and manage our Tribal archives.


Once again, these are the ideals and master vision of our college – educating and inspiring Red Lake students, who will continue on and get further education, and then return to the reservation to help improve our Tribe.  We are very proud of James for his commitment to excellence and for his vision to earn more education and training to help improve our Nation.      

Story submitted by Dan King

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Stories last updated on 2.1.18

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