SCJ school awards over $176,000 in scholarships

Wankiya Rios

St. Joseph’s Indian School recently awarded $84,350 in spring-semester scholarships to Native American students across the nation, bringing the total awards for the academic year to $176,050. This spring, the school provided 68 scholarships: 16 to alumni, 13 to family members of St. Joseph’s Indian School alumni, and 39 to others enrolled in a federally recognized tribe and pursuing higher education.

St. Joseph’s Indian School alumnus Wankiya Rios is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe – Lakota, and a second-year welding student at Mitchell Technical College. He will graduate in May. “It was love at first sight,” he says of the spark he felt at his first exposure to his trade in high school. It’s no wonder as Wankiya’s namesakes are the “thunder beings,” the wakíŋyaŋ-pȟéta whose return to the Black Hills is observed by the Lakota each spring as the season ignites with thunder, lightning and rain.

Wankiya credits the scholarships with supporting him through college life changes, living in a new town and making new friends. He plans to move to Rapid City this summer to find a job and live near his grandmother. “She always puts other people first, so it is on my bucket list to take her to Paris someday,” he said.

The school created the scholarship to benefit Native American students pursuing higher education. With the generosity of donors, St. Joseph’s Indian School has awarded scholarship dollars to Native American students since 1985. Financial need and academic performance are the basis for determining the awards. Applications are due each fall and spring and are awarded based on proof of tribal enrollment, number of applicants and available funds. Also considered are returning scholars who are continuing their education journey.

Opened in 1927, St. Joseph’s Indian School is one of the oldest ministries of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians) in the United States.