Up Close with the Students of the Year

Balancing grades, social life, and extra circular activities is challenging for just about every college student. Throwing a child into the mix and juggling multiple jobs could easily be a recipe for academic failure, but two student leaders at Haskell have worked hard at navigating their way to success. Sami Milk and Marcell Grant have been recognized this year for outstanding academics and their involvement in campus and community.  Sami Milk is the Haskell Student of the Year and Marcell Grant is the American Indian College Fund (AICF) Student of the Year.  In a Q & A session, both students discuss their accomplishments, post-graduation plans, and what it means to each of them to be selected as Student of the Year.

Sami Milk, Haskell Student of the Year

Haskell Student of the Year, Samantha Milk.

Samantha “Sami” Milk is the daughter of Orville and Theresa Milk. She was born in Rapid City, SD but moved around South Dakota for about 6 or 7 years with her family before deciding to move to Lawrence.  Sami will graduate this semester with a Bachelor degree in Environmental Science. Sami has a 2-year old daughter, Kili who attends Haskell Little Nations Academic Center.

What do you consider your greatest Haskell accomplishment?
I would consider being hired with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) as a student trainee to be my greatest accomplishment while attending Haskell. Had it not been for the opportunities I had taken advantage of throughout my undergraduate career with Haskell, I would not have obtained the skills that eventually led to my being hired with the USGS. Not only do I absolutely love my job, but I look forward to representing myself as a Haskell Alumna throughout my career.

What are your plans after graduation?
My immediate plans following graduation would be to take a vacation! This has been one tough semester. But my long-term plan is to work as a Hydrographer with the USGS for as long as possible. In this position, I hope to build stronger relationships between the USGS and nearby tribes. I also plan to learn as much as possible while in my position in order to, one day, apply the knowledge I gain to problem solve issues involving indigenous peoples.

What does it mean to you to be selected by Haskell as Student of the year?
Being selected as Haskell Student of the Year means so much to me! I am so honored to be chosen for this achievement not just for myself, but for my daughter, my family, my friends, and all of my relations. With this honor I hope to show all of my mentors that they truly have made a difference and also bring a sense of pride to both of my parents. Most importantly, this achievement means so much to me because it serves as a reminder to my daughter that she has strong bloodlines, and were it not for that strength I may not have finished college following my pregnancy.

What advice do you have for other students who may have future Student of the Year potential?
My advice is to keep pushing forward and always remember why you are here at Haskell. Whether it be to provide a better life for yourself, your tribe, your family, or your children. Keeping this in mind, especially during times of doubt, is what will motivate you to succeed.

Marcell Grant, American Indian College Fund Student of the Year

Marcell Grant, American Indian College Fund Student of the Year.

Marcell Grant is an enrolled member of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and is also Yankton Sioux. She is the daughter of Monica Drapeau-Grant and George Grant. Marcell’s mother is a 2004 Haskell graduate. Marcell grew up in Lawrence and on the Haskell campus for the majority of her life, but moved back to the Omaha reservation in 2008 where she completed high school. Marcell graduates this semester with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management.

What do you consider your greatest Haskell accomplishment?
The biggest accomplishment I have achieved while being at Haskell was being selected as a Student Ambassador. This had a big impact on helping me get out of my comfort zone and have a chance to give back to my school and student body that has had helped open doors for me.

What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation, my plans are to continue my internship at the American Indian Records Repository as well as looking into graduate programs for me to pursue my MBA. I want to find a graduate program that will offer the best benefits financially and a good business program.

What does it mean to you to be selected by AICF as Student of the year?
Being selected as the AICF Student of the Year has helped show me that no matter what battles I am facing that pushing through them and continuing to strive for my degree will pay off. This is such an honor having been selected because I never would have thought that I would receive such an award. In my mind, there are so many students who are well deserving of this award and I want them to know to keep applying because your chance will come!

What advice do you have for other students who may have future Student of the Year potential?
The advice that I would give students with the potential to be named student of the year is to be involved on campus from various clubs to volunteer work. Creating these relationships with your peers, instructors, staff and faculty helps build opportunities for yourself. Always continue to fight some days are more stressful then others but there will always be light at the end of the tunnel.

Grant was recognized by the American Indian College Fund at the Coca-Cola Scholar’s Banquet at the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) Student Conference in March 2017.  Milk will address her fellow graduating classmates in a speech at the 2017 Haskell Commencement Ceremony on May 19, 2017. Congratulations to both students!

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