A Celebration of Education: Woksape Wakhuwa

Woksape Banner

When Youth Advisory Board member Bobby Pourier was named this year’s National Child Awareness Ambassador for the State of South Dakota for his service work with LCE, he proposed that LCE bring its discussions from a recent Youth Summit about the value of a strong education to all of the schools across the Reservation. Bobby’s proposal, entitled “How and Why to Become a Better Student” earned him a $1,000 grant to help fund further service activities with LCE.

Bobby wants to spark conversations about what he describes as the “indifference towards education” he sees among his peers. Bobby’s goal is to challenge youth to seek greater knowledge, so that they can help the community create a stronger future filled with greater opportunities. On January 8 and 9, Bobby led panel discussions at three different Reservation Middle Schools: Our Lady of Lourdes, Little Wound Middle School and Red Cloud Middle School.

Bobby’s presentation was awesome and inspirational! Stay tuned for more presentations coming soon to more schools!

Woksape Wakhuwa: I Seek Knowledge

Maggie SD BadlandsIntroducing the panelists, LCE President Maggie Dunne told students: “When I was in college my big goal was to work with amazing youth like you guys, and to help open doors to opportunities so that you can reach your goals. Along the way I’ve met some amazing people from your community who have done amazing things, and you’re going to hear from some of them today. We hope that these discussions will inspire you to look for ways to help yourself and others, inside and outside the classroom. Everyone here has the ability to accomplish the great things that our panelists have done — or other great things. As you will hear, you must believe in yourself, ask for help, find mentors and be prepared to put in the hard work that all successful people put in to reach their goals. It’s not always easy, but don’t let that hold you back!

Below are very brief bios on the speakers, followed by some of their take-away messages. At the end of the presentations, students at each school signed a banner, pledging to seek further knowledge and received a custom writing journal.

Bobby Headshot

Bobby Pourier
  • A co-founding member of LCE’s Youth Advisory Board, made up of young people from across the Reservation (ages 13-24), who are involved in projects that help the community.
  • From Porcupine SD
  • Junior at the Red Cloud School, where he is an honors student and has received academic honors
  • Named South Dakota’s 2014-15 NCAM Youth Service Ambassador by Youth Service America for his work with LCE
  • Interned in the summer of 2014 at the National Institute of Health, where he focused on alcoholism research.

HIS BIG GOAL: Bobby’s big goal is to get a PhD in experimental psychology and to make a positive impact on the future generations. He wants to help address some of the problems that he believes are holding back his community, including: alcoholism, suicide and indifference towards education.

HIS ADVICE: “The need for education is perhaps the greatest here on the reservation because there simply aren’t a lot of other opportunities to be successful, at least not yet. We need to take advantage of our biggest opportunity, which is to become educated.” You can read Bobby’s reflections on the project here.

Keith Headshot

Keith Martinez:
  • Chair and Co-Founding member of LCE’s Youth Advisory Board
  • Formerly from Kyle SD
  • Gates and Presidential Scholar attending Villanova University
  • Named South Dakota’s 2013-14 NCAM Youth Service Ambassador by Youth Service America for his work with LCE
  • Named a 2014 Champion for Change by Center for Native American Youth for his work with LCE

HIS BIG GOAL: Keith’s goal is to be the first in his family to graduate from college and to come back to Pine Ridge to help the community. Today, he’s a Junior at Villanova University – only one more year to go!

HIS ADVICE: If you don’t help yourself, then others won’t want to help you. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn, inside and outside the classroom.

Kiva Headshot 1

Kiva Sam
  • Graduated from Dartmouth college, currently obtaining an advanced degree from OLC
  • Formerly from Kyle
  • Taught for two years at the Little Wound High School, through Teach for America (TFA)
  • Currently running TFA’s Native Alliance Initiative, recruiting native leaders into the organization and creating more opportunities for native youth.
  • She’s the mother of two boys, Treyton and Dayton.

HER BIG GOAL: Kiva wants to continue her studies and to continue her work in the Pine Ridge community. She’s passionate about empowering the next generation to become the leaders who will transform their communities.

HER ADVICE: Set a large goal and then figure out how you’re going to get there. You may have to break down your big goal into many small steps, each of which will bring you closer to your goal. Seek out mentors, don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be afraid to fail. It’s okay to fail, but it’s not okay to fail to try!

Alicia headshot

Alicia Moussau:
  • A graduate of Red Cloud High School (2000),
  • Received a PhD in Clinical Psychology from University of Wyoming in 2012, after a whopping 23 years of school!
  • Originally from Porcupine SD
  • She’s a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe Research Review Board and a Research Instructor for University of Colorado on the Thiwahe Gluwas’akapi project on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

HER BIG GOAL: Alicia’s big goal was to learn as much as she possibly could in the field of clinical psychology and to use that knowledge to help people in Pine Ridge. It took Alicia 23 years of school to earn her PhD in clinical psychology and now she is living her dream – helping the community.

HER ADVICE: We all can and should help each other in every way, every day. If you want to get somewhere, then ask successful people how they reached their goals. Work hard, be nice and share your knowledge along the way. With help along the way, you can do anything you set out to accomplish.

TJ headshot

TJ Lynch
  • Director of Technology at Red Cloud School
  • Came to Pine Ridge as a volunteer, after graduating from college in 2000
  • While working at Red Cloud, TJ earned a MBA from USD and a Masters in Educational Leadership from University of San Francisco.

HIS BIG GOAL: TJ’s goal is to teach on the Pine Ridge Reservation and to continue learning. TJ graduated from college, came to Pine Ridge and then earned two extra degrees while working in the community! He loves working with students and helping them find their passions.

HIS ADVICE: Keep learning and keep pushing yourself. If you are not challenged in your classes, then ask your teachers to give you work that challenges you and/or look for activities outside of the classroom that will teach you valuable life skills. We all can learn from each other.

Bobby Red Cloud banner

Bobby Pourier standing by a banner signed by students at Red Cloud School who pledged to seek knowledge inside and outside the classroom.

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Kiva Sam, Maggie Dunne, Bobby Pourier, Red Cloud Middle School Principal Jennifer Sierra, Keith Martinez, Alicia Mousseau, TJ Lynch

Got some ideas of your own? Want to get involved?


This program is funded through the generosity of LCE’s donors, fiscal sponsor Running Strong for American Indian Youth and a grant from Youth Service America. Thank you to all of our supporters!


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