PINE RIDGE, S.D. – When Red Cloud High School Senior Autumn White Eyes makes the trek each afternoon to her home on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the first thing she does is check the mail. And recently, there’s been something waiting to be opened each week – a single piece of paper that will bring her one step closer to fulfilling her goals and aspirations in life.
Now she’s got a big decision to make: How to answer those letters. White Eyes has been accepted to some of the country’s most prestigious colleges and universities: Stanford University, Dartmouth College, Loyola University-Chicago, Marquette University, Santa Clara University, Creighton University and Lawrence University, to name a few.
And of those schools, Stanford, Dartmouth and Creighton have all offered her full-ride scholarships for her outstanding achievement in and out of the classroom.
“With each letter comes more excitement and complete wonderment,” White Eyes modestly admits one afternoon after completing a science laboratory class. “I would never have thought that I would get accepted and encouraged to attend so many schools – schools I have dreamed of attending.”
But that’s what happens when you work hard and dare to dream. White Eyes has made the most of her academic career. A product of a Red Cloud education since kindergarten, White Eyes has earned a 4.0 GPA, and juggled a number of extra-curricular activities: National Honor Society, cheerleading, volleyball, Drama Club, Yoga Club and the Knowledge Bowl at the Lakota Nation Invitational. She was also nominated by Red Cloud High School Principal Nick Dressel to represent her graduating class at this year’s Governor’s Academic Excellence in Pierre last month.
She has spent the last five summers at the Indians Into Medicine Summer Institute at the University of North Dakota. Last summer, she also took part in Yale University’s weeklong College Horizons Program, where she learned more about the college application process.
“I’m so incredibly grateful to everyone who has helped me with the college application process,” she said. “Right now, the possibilities are endless.”
White Eyes hopes to major in pre-med, chemistry, Native American Studies or English.
While there are a lot of great things happening due to her acceptances, there is one downfall.
“I’ve got a tough decision ahead of me – which one to attend,” she said.
Time will tell. Until then, you’ll find her huddled around college viewbooks, Web sites and her family, weighing her options and envisioning a very bright future.