Years of hard work and dedication, not only to his studies but to learning more and immersing himself in his Native culture, are paying off for Flandreau senior Angel Vazquez.
The past few weeks have seen scholarship after scholarship awarded Vazquez, a young man that perhaps many in the community may not even know. He’s not been active in athletics or many of the other high profile activities where communities often get to know local students throughout their primary education years. Vazquez instead, might have been at the tribal community center, singing or in the drum group, learning the Dakota language, spending time with family and friends, or at his job at WalMart in Brookings.
But his dedication to his academics, his character, his commitment to cultural learning, and his drive to do well in whatever he applies himself to, has gotten noticed. And if you happen to know Vazquez or his mother, Gayle Stone-Arrow, it’s hard to miss photo after photo of them on social media beaming with each new letter that has come in.
This spring, Vazquez has earned;
•The Half-Housing Scholarship from University of South Dakota
•The Ullyot Lakota Scholarship from University of South Dakota
•The University of Montana Academic Achievement Scholarship
•The Horatio-Alger Denny Sanford Scholarship
•The 2022 7TH GEN-Native American Jump Start Grant
•The South Dakota Freedom Scholarship
•The Coyote Legacy Scholarship from University of South Dakota
•The Toby Taylor Memorial Scholarship
Stone-Arrow mentioned Vazquez also learned this past week that he is a finalist for a Cobell Scholarship, which is the result of the Cobell vs. Salazar settlement. It is competitive, merit and need based, non-renewable, and available to any post-secondary (after high school) student who is; an enrolled member of a US Federally-Recognized Tribe, enrolled in full-time study and is degree seeking.
A little bit more about Vazquez — he was in the Gifted and Talented Program when he was at FIS, he has attended both public and FIS schools throughout his education thus far, he recently did the Quiz Bowl, last summer he worked at Pipestone and he is there again this summer with the Youth Conservation Corp, he is attending the 7th Generation Summer Program at Crazy Horse Monument, and he will get college credit through Black Hills State College.
“Since I’ve known Angel, I have seen how he moves through his life. He carries himself very well. His respect to family, culture and himself are what will create a solid foundation for not only himself but others who will be around him. There will be challenges and obstacles in life but I know he is beyond capable to accomplish whatever he chooses to do with his life,” said Dustin Beaulieu, the Dakota Language Director for the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe.
Vazquez plans to pursue a major in Anthropology at the University of South Dakota. He also hopes to be able to study abroad and work with various cultures around the world. Among the awards mentioned above, the $10,000 Horatio-Alger Denny Sanford Scholarship he was recently awarded will certainly help him toward those goals. His letter read, in informing him that he was a recipient, “This is a tribute to your determination and hard work.”
“It feels good to be recognized and supported by the Horatio Alger Association. The scholarship and the additional resources provided by the Association will help me throughout my academic journey,” said Vazquez.
While each award holds significant meaning to Vazquez himself, the Toby Taylor Memorial Scholarship means a great deal to all of the families involved. In a Facebook post, announcing this year’s scholarship winners, Becky Cramer said, “We were able to present these two young men: Austin Kulm and Angel Vazquez with the Toby Taylor Memorial Scholarship! We are so proud of both of them, their current accomplishments, and their future goals! Congratulations to both of you!!”
When the Moody County Enterprise asked if there was anything more Vazquez would want people to know about either himself, the awards or his future plans, he answered with gratitude toward so many others — “I would like to thank Samantha Contarino, Emily Crooks, Avery Jones, Kellyn and Elisabetta James, and my mother. I would not be in this position without their guidance and support.”