indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Dynamic Homes
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Native Sun News: Cheyenne River student is NASA Ambassador

Filed Under: Education | National | Technology
More on: cheyenne river sioux, nasa, native sun news, south dakota
   

The following story was written and reported by Christina Rose, Native Sun News Staff Writer. All content © Native Sun News.


Delaena Uses Knife in class at the South Dakota School of Mines.

Uses Knife wins NASA Internship, becomes NASA Ambassador
By Christina Rose
Native Sun News Staff writer

RAPID CITY - Winning singing contests, art contests, being a model and an accomplished hoop dancer might be enough for some, but not for Delaena Rae Uses Knife, 27, of Eagle Butte, SD, who fully intends to reach her dream of becoming an astrophysicist. Uses Knife is looking forward to a summer internship with NASA and she has also been named one of five of South Dakota’s NASA Ambassador. “It’s a surreal moment for me,” Uses Knife said.

“A NASA Student Ambassador is an honor offered to selective internship/fellowship students,” read an email from NASA headquarters. As an Ambassador, Delaena will have access to employment opportunities and educational experiences that will increase her skills while she continues to work towards her degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, or STEM.

Before she graduated from her reservation high school, Delaena was told by her guidance counselors that she should not attempt to reach her goal of attending Harvard. “Everyone told me I should be a painter,” Delaena said with a wry smile.

Struggling with low self-esteem and being told she wasn’t capable of going to Harvard, Delaena didn’t apply. “At that age, we are so accepting of what the counselors tell us we can be,” she said.

However, Delaena said she has no regrets. Happy to be attending the School of Mines, she said, “When I was a kid, I wished I was smart enough to go here.” That the School of Mines “is a really good school and tops Harvard’s graduate’s salary,” has not been lost on her.

“I started out as an artist. I was a Vincent Van Gogh wannabe,” said Delaena, who had also won awards for singing. After modeling for a while, she said, “I wanted a different image, not to just be about my body. I wanted to use my mind, challenge myself, and the School of Mines is very academically challenging. A lot of students come here and drop out and there is a low rate of Native scientists and engineers. There is a great need, so this is my calling.”

Her future at the SDSMT began in 2011. “I guess I wanted a dare,” she said. Though Delaena said she struggled with low self-esteem, she got her Associates Degree in Liberal Studies at Oglala Lakota College, graduating with a 3.5 grade point average. “I wanted to become a lawyer and eventually go to Harvard, but once I qualified for this internship with NASA, it made me believe I could be anything I wanted to be. If I get the GPA I could really go the distance despite what anyone said. It’s a big come back to anyone who says a Native American can’t go to NASA or Harvard.”

Delaena transferred to SDSMT last fall, and was immediately recruited into the National Science Tiospaye Scholar Program which has programs for engineering and for science.

Professor of Industrial engineering, Dr. Carter Kerk is also the assistant to the Provost for Native American Initiative and Director of the Tiospaye Program. He said that the school’s goal is to increase the amount of Native American graduates through financial, academic, professional, cultural, and social support. To qualify, students have to be academic talented, needy according to FASA, have graduated from tribal high school or college or be an enrolled tribal member, Dr. Kerk said, “It is no secret, we want to increase our Native American students, and we recruit many kids from Central high School.”

About Delaena, Dr. Kerk said, “We are glad she is at South Dakota Mines.”

Kerk said that one of Delaena’s best traits as a student is her conscientiousness. “A lot of students don’t have those qualities. She has told me many times how much she appreciates being in the program, and I wish other students showed as much appreciation,” Kerk said. About her participation, he said, “She is one of those students who is always there, and for us that participation is so important.”

“The mentors and I just love her. She has such a high level commitment and I have great confidence in her ability to succeed,” Kerk said.

Dee LeBeau, Tiospaye Science Engineering Mentor, through the School of Mines, said, “Delaena is a little fire cracker. She is so hard working, and even though she has gotten derailed a few times, she is very diligent, and determined. She sincerely wants success for herself, and she is capable of achieving it.”

LeBeau also said that Delaena’s speech impediments, which she developed at the age of four, might be considered a setback for some, “But Delaena is doing what she needs to do to run with the big dogs.”

Delaena described her occasional stutter, which developed when she was four years old, as simply another challenge. “That has been another thing that makes me so determined to prevail, and also to challenge myself to overcome it.”

The NASA internship will take place in the summer and will include spending time in Washington, D.C. There will be a stipend that enables her to travel, stay in D.C. and accommodate other needs.

Delaena Rae is an enrolled member of Mnicojou Cheyenne River Lakota Tribe and is the daughter of Matthew and Margie Uses Knife, and descendent of Chief Low Dog, Chief Gall, and Chief Rains in the Face. She hopes to someday work in the NASA control room, counting down lift off for rockets. She doesn’t necessarily want to be an astronaut but behind the scenes. When asked if she was interested in going to Mars, she said, “It takes three years to get there, based on light instead of speed, so I would be away for a while.”

When asked what advice she might have for other students who have big dreams and equally big challenges, she said, “It’s all in your head.”

(Contact Christina Rose at christinarose.sd@gmail.com)

Copyright permission by Native Sun News


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Cobell beneficiaries still waiting on payment (7/24)
Navajo Nation president to discuss brutal murders with mayor (7/24)
NCAI President Cladoosby offers cedar hat to BIA's Washburn (7/24)
Woman waiting in line at SCIA hearing reportedly had bedbugs (7/24)
S.E. Ruckman: Tribal members share frustrations on IHS care (7/24)
Mark Rogers: System exploits misery of our nation's veterans (7/24)
Fort Belknap Tribes depend on revenue from Internet lending (7/24)
Oglala Sioux Tribe still working on plan for legal alcohol sales (7/24)
Two Native girls charged with assault for hockey game brawl (7/24)
Chickasaw Nation welcomes public to new community center (7/24)
Oregon tribe plans major development at historic village site (7/24)
Unsettled Ch. 26: Passamaquoddy dealings cloaked in secrecy (7/24)
KCAW: BLM supports Alaska Native corporation in land dispute (7/24)
Mixed martial arts fighter from Lumbee Tribe proud of heritage (7/24)
Granddaughter of former team owner condemns racist mascot (7/24)
Opinion: Chief Black Hawk was notorious leader of Ute people (7/24)
Remote tribes facing threats from drug trafficking and logging (7/24)
BIA indicates Tohono O'odham Nation can use land for gaming (7/24)
Pojoaque Pueblo wants to take state out of casino operations (7/24)
Iipay Nation started planning Internet poker games last year (7/24)
Fighter seriously injured at Trinidad Rancheria's casino event (7/24)
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe concerned about potential gaming site (7/24)
Native Sun News: Great Plains tribes call for full contract funds (7/23)
Native Sun News: Candidate wants Obama to meet with tribes (7/23)
Audio: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing on gaming (7/23)
President Obama nominates Jonodev Chaudhuri to lead NIGC (7/23)
Class III compact for Swinomish Tribe lowers legal age to 18 (7/23)
Navajo Nation officials seek meeting in response to murders (7/23)
Larry Spotted Crow Mann: Thank Indian veterans for America (7/23)
Fond du Lac Band tries to uncover cause of foodborne illness (7/23)
Man in Alabama honors Yuchi ancestor with unique memorial (7/23)
Shivwits Band sees early success with gas station and store (7/23)
Seminole Tribe launches marketing campaign for juice brand (7/23)
Mohegan Tribe breaks ground on first of 15 chain restaurants (7/23)
Water bottling plant provides usage reports to Morongo Band (7/23)
WBUR: Tribes rebury one of their ancient relatives in Montana (7/23)
KPLU: Quileute Tribe welcomes man who was rescued in 2010 (7/23)
Unsettled: Free speech costs dearly at Passamaquoddy Tribe (7/23)
MSU News: Online Native studies courses open to registration (7/23)
Opinion: Connecticut tribe deserves a 2nd shot at recognition (7/23)
Ernie Stevens joins American Gaming Association Hall of Fame (7/23)
Employees at Graton Rancheria casino vote to join labor union (7/23)
Sandia Pueblo undertakes first major casino expansion project (7/23)
Mohegan Tribe's poll points to preference for casino in Catskills (7/23)
Native Sun News: Lakota War Path team wins world relay title (7/22)
Raina Thiele: Native youth participate in My Brother's Keeper (7/22)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs looks into tribal gaming (7/22)
NIGC reports 'stable' growth in $28B tribal gaming industry (7/22)
Bail set at $5M for teens accused of murdering Navajo men (7/22)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.