My name is Bethany O’Connell and I am a 2015 graduate of Dupree High School on the Cheyenne River Lakota Reservation in South Dakota. I am a TRIO Talent Search alumnus who is continuing on her educational path. This fall, I plan to attend the University of Minnesota, Morris to pursue a four year degree in Environmental Science. In the future I hope to use my education to bring awareness to environmental issues on my home reservation as well as across the country.

Although my final year of high school was somewhat stressful, with help from my school guidance and my TRIO Talent Search counselors and my parents I decided to apply for a number of scholarships. I am happy to have received a couple of local scholarships, but the best one I was awarded is the Gates Millennium Scholarship. I am so grateful because now I will be able to realize my long term goals!

I am also very interested in joining the Peace Corps and working with youth in developing countries. If that doesn’t work out, at least I want to be a motivator and mentor to children and teenagers on my reservation. Through my example, I want to be able to model how important it is to get a college education and follow a career path that will have a positive influence on the people and community. I feel that many young people do not learn at home how essential a high school education is, much less how important it is to earn a college degree.

In conclusion, my advice to incoming seniors is to apply for as many scholarships as possible so your academic dreams can be accomplished.