Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Getting to Know Laurel Vermillion

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Getting to Know Laurel Vermillion

Article excerpt

Dr. Laurel Vermillion of the Hunkpapa-Lakota tribe is president of Sitting Bull College. Her path to leadership represents a remarkable full circle journey in her life and career. She began as one of the first students of Standing Rock Community College, now called Sitting Bull College, on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. In 1973 there were no buildings to house the newly founded school.

"We used to find a quiet corner in the community center to hold classes," she recalls.

That handful of students has since increased to more than 300. The college offers a number of associate degree programs as well as baccalaureate programs in business and elementary education. It also maintains an articulation agreement with Oglala Lakota College and Sinte Gleska University to offer other four-year degree programs. Students no longer have to scramble for classroom space. The college includes a state-of-the-art Science and Technology Center, a Family Support Center that houses education classrooms and a day care center, and a Transit Center where vocational classes will be held. An Entrepreneurial Center is currently under construction as the college works to raise the second half of its $40 million building campaign. In keeping with the college's five-year strategic plan to help build the community's economy, the center will include incubator spaces for start-up tribal businesses and a tribal business center and will house business classes.

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"Absolutely not!" Vermillion responds when asked if she ever dreamed she might one day lead the college during her days searching for classroom space.

"It's funny how life moves you forward," she muses.

Born and raised in the little town of Kennel on the Standing Rock Reservation, Vermillion attended a one-room schoolhouse. Early on, she learned lessons of responsibility as she rode a horse to the little school. …

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