BROOKINGS, SD- The American Indian Student Center (AISC) focuses on welcoming and supporting Native American students at the start and end of their university studies. Resources and activities for students inclusiveness and academic success.
“So when our students arrive on campus, we are first and foremost a home away from home,” says Stephanie Johnson, director of the American Indian Student Center. “And so, whatever that means for students, we try to provide academic resources, social resources, cultural resources.”
Additionally, on-campus students who are not from Indigenous backgrounds can learn more about the cultures of their classmates. “You know, in the state we live in, 10% of the population is Native American, Native American, Native American, and so we want that to be represented here on campus. We’re not there yet with our numbers, but we welcome all students, all faculty, and we’re a very inclusive building and space. The opportunities we provide are for everyone, you know, for any student who wants to participate, for any faculty member, for any staff member. We welcome those people to come in,” Johnson says.
Cante Skuya Lonehill grew up in Pine Ridge and decided to pursue studies in animal science at SDSU. “At the end of the day, I’ve always had that kind of connection with animals since I was younger. They’ve kind of always been there, and on my booking, that’s a really big deal with people who don’t have the money or the resources to take their pets to the nearest vet clinic, which is about 45 minutes out of town. So I guess just growing up in the environment I have growing up made me really want to give back to my community.
She says AISC helped her find a new community far from home. “I think one of the main things that I enjoy is coming here and seeing all the different people who come here and enjoy spending time with them because when you come here you see a lot of the same people , but you also see a lot of different people. So it’s a bit like the community.
Skuya Lonehill adds that the events are also fun bonding experiences. “We all come here and we all get together and do different things, and it’s just kind of an opportunity for all of us to get together and meet each other and know who our community is,” she said.
More information about the American Indian Student Center can be found here.