Create room to learn

Linda Baker
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum

Our mom, Diana Baker, was honored with a star quilt during a give-away at Black Hills Powwow in Rapid City, South Dakota. Tyler Yellow Boy and his mom, Lois White Whirlwind, recognized our mom as an elder life-long learner, because it was important to her to enroll in classes at San Juan Community College. 

Our father, Archie Baker, received his GED and a college degree as a grandfather. He was provoked toward these educational accomplishments because a relative said he was “nothing.”

I completed a bachelor’s degree, attending one or two classes a semester, at a “slow but sure” pace. I crossed the graduation stage with daughter Sage, two months’ old, in a cradleboard.

What would motivate you to become a life-long learner or to complete a degree? Do you have a particular interest, hobby, or curiosity? What about cultural crafts and language classes?

As a former college academic advisor and cultural crafts instructor, I offer two suggestions to get ready to learn: 

  • Develop a Routine: By planning, practicing, and applying a new routine, you are slowly but surely creating room to learn. Recognize what time of day is best for different styles of learning: concentration (reading, studying, homework) or creativity (beading, sewing, applique).
  • Begin Reading: Reading is like training for a marathon – be disciplined, start slowly and consciously, and cover more ground with practice. Not a reader? Begin with a magazine – read the stories you like, read the stories you skipped and read the captions for photographs. Read the magazine cover-to-cover, including all publication information. Then do the same with a book. Any book. Preferably a book about Utes.

For those in high school or college, the end of a semester means the beginning of summer courses, summer employment or summer vacation. Enhance your education with an internship and valuable hands-on experience. Tribal members can contact our tribal education department for information, deadlines and funding opportunities for internships, vocational school, certificate programs, and college.

Most importantly, congratulations to those graduating this spring and summer! By completing high school, college, vocational school, or a certificate program, you have finished what you started. Keep moving forward on your educational journey – following the path of those who have travelled ahead of you – and leading for those behind you.

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