Half of Indian University of North America Students Attending USD

Image Indian University Students Indian University Students on Crazy Horse

Half of the 32 students who attended the 2015 Indian University of North America at Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills are studying at or plan to attend the University of South Dakota.

The partnership between USD and the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation offers an eight-week summer program at the memorial in which students, most of them from American Indian tribes from around the country, enroll in college courses like English, math and speech that are taught by USD instructors.

The students also attend college success strategies and work in paid internships at the mountain carving of Lakota leader Crazy Horse, a memorial to honor the culture and tradition of North American Indians that draws millions of visitors every year.

The 16 students enrolled in or planning to attend USD, their tribal affiliation, home state and area of study:

  • Rachel Barrett (Oglala); Edina, Minnesota; communication disorders
  • Shannon Davis (Misasagua); Rochester, Minnesota; English
  • Victoria Hayes (Oglala); Rapid City, South Dakota; computer science
  • Kallison Kasto (Cheyenne River); Eagle Butte, South Dakota; health sciences
  • Mia Lasley (Ponca); Omaha, Nebraska; nursing
  • Angelina Noriega (Rosebud Sioux); Wagner, South Dakota: criminal justice
  • Selena Olvera (Sisseton-Wahpeton); Yankton, South Dakota; native studies
  • Jace Plant (Rosebud Sioux); Gilbert, Arizona: exercise science
  • Roscio Rangel (Yankton Sioux); Lehi, Utah; undecided
  • Brylee Red Owl (Oglala); Kyle, South Dakota; political science
  • Bonnie Sorzano; Windsor, Colorado; elementary education
  • Carly Sternhagen; Tabor, South Dakota; social work
  • Derek VanderMay; Norris, South Dakota; medical biology
  • Denicia Walker (Winnebago); Winnebago, Nebraska; nursing
  • Daniel Whirlwind Soldier Petite (Rosebud Sioux); Saint Francis, South Dakota; sustainability
  • Erika Wounded Knee (Crow Creek); Pierre, South Dakota; undecided

Here are short bios about and videos on why four of the students chose to attend USD:

Video of Denicia Walker, a member of the Winnebago tribe, who grew up in Winnebago, Nebraska. She’s majoring in nursing with a minor in Native American studies. She’s the first in her family to go to college and wants to be a role model for her younger siblings and other native students. Denicia hopes to become the first female Native American nurse at her local Indian Health Service hospital.

Video of Selena Olvera, a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton tribe, who is from Yankton, South Dakota. She’s majoring in Native American studies at USD. Selena is excited for the student life like living in a residence hall and taking part in student clubs and activities like the Tiospaye Student Council for native students and the USD Wacipi, or powwow, held every March in the DakotaDome.  

Video of Daniel Whirlwind Soldier Petite, a member of the Rosebud Sioux tribe, who is from Saint Francis, South Dakota. He’s studying sustainability at USD. He wants to help ease the world’s pollution problems and encourage better use of its resources. Daniel chose USD largely because it’s close to home and family. He plans to make use of the Native American Cultural Center while on campus.

Video of Angelina Noriega, a member of the Rosebud Sioux tribe, who grew up in Phoenix and Wagner, South Dakota. She’s studying criminal justice at USD and plans to be a detective. Angelina is the first person in her family to go to college and says she wants to be a good example to her younger siblings and cousin.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 205 undergraduate and 73 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 17:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 17 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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Michael Ewald
USD News