The American Indian College Fund will honor American Indian scholarship recipients at its 2014-15 Student of the Year reception at the American Indian Higher Education Consortium Student Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The program, sponsored by the Adolph Coors Foundation, awarded each honoree a $1,000 scholarship. The program also honors a faculty or staff member at a tribal college and university for their leadership.
Michael “Mickey” Parish, president and CEO of Bay Mills Community College, received the Tribal College Leader award. Parish has been the president of the institution, located in Brimley, Michigan and serving the Bay Mills Indian Community, for 13 years.
American Indian College Fund
Michael “Mickey” Parish, president and CEO of Bay Mills Community College, received the Tribal College Leader award.
Parish is a homegrown leader. Tribal members saw his potential and asked him to consider attending law school after he completed a bachelor’s degree. With the added encouragement from his wife, he enrolled and later became an attorney, working in areas such as child welfare, land claims, and prosecution. Parish went on to serve in tribal government for many years as a member of their Executive Council. From there he made the leap into higher education.
Parish’s goal is to ensure the tribal college benefits his tribal members. He says he takes pride in seeing how well the tribal college students do when they transfer to other institutions from the tribal college, including his granddaughter, who was named the school’s Student of the Year in 2014 and now attends Lake Superior State College, where she maintains a 4.0 grade point average. They use the school as a springboard for future success.
“Many of our students are non-traditional in that they are older, with families, and they work while they go to school part-time, so they do not always finish in two to three years. But when they finish they are proud and we are just as proud of them. That makes it all worth it,” Parish said.
Thanks to Parish, Bay Mills Community College is also a leader in Michigan education. Bay Mills Community College is the only tribal college authorized by state law to charter public school academies. BMCC presently has 42 chartered academies serving over 22,000 students throughout the State of Michigan. As part of this work, Parish says student retention is a necessary focus.
“We’ve seen a lot of sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students dropping out of school. We try to identify programs and activities to retain these students. Although there is no magic bullet, smaller classrooms, closer teacher interactions, and making the schools a safe environment keeps them in school,” he says.
Poverty is a major contributor to students dropping out, and Parish says the government does not always look at the conditions that students are living in. Often children in a family do not have money for school supplies or clothing, making consistent attendance difficult for them and leading to them falling behind.
The 2014-2015 Adolph Coors Foundation Students of the Year are:
Charmayne Healy—Aaniiih Nakoda College
Audie Petrosky Jr.—Bay Mills Community College
Burton Butterfly—Blackfeet Community College
Marshall Longie Jr.—Cankdeska Cikana Community College
Danielle Freemont—Chief Dull Knife College
Elizabeth Rice—College of Menominee Nation
Carmon Rudd—College of the Muscogee Nation
Dallas Peterman—Diné College
Alisha Smith—Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College
Connie Greene—Fort Berthold Community College
Carolyn Bigby—Fort Peck Community College
Beverly Foley—Haskell Indian Nations University
Matthew Murray—Ilisagvik College
Terran Kipp—Institute of American Indian Arts
Heather Maki—Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College
Jodee LaFave—Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College
Audrianna Goodwin—Leech Lake Tribal College
Shereena Old Elk—Little Big Horn College
Wayne Vandall—Little Priest Tribal College
Myrna Mitchell—Navajo Technical University
Sarah Zavala—Nebraska Indian Community College
Sean Lawrence—Northwest Indian College
Lacey Thompson—Oglala Lakota College
Anthony Quiroga—Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College
Stormie Perdash—Salish Kootenai College
Roger Ellert Jr.—Sinte Gleska University
Melanie Seaboy—Sisseton Wahpeton College
Jody Wingate—Sitting Bull College
JoVonna Rosetta—Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute
Ina Fox—Stone Child College
Ervin Francisco—Tohono O'odham Community College
Cole Frederick—Turtle Mountain Community College
Logan Maxon—United Tribes Technical College
Isabella Griffin—White Earth Tribal and Community College