Maurissa Bigjohn is a member of the Lac du Flambeau band of Lake Superior Chippewa and a descendant of the Menominee Nation. She graduated from the College of Menominee Nation in the spring of 2009, double majoring in Accounting and Business Administration. While at CMN she interned for the Business office, Finance, and the Sustainable Development Institute. She held work study positions as the night receptionist and Business manager for the American Indian Business Leaders (AIBL) club. Maurissa was also a peer tutor for four semesters and was president of AIBL. She was also awarded a scholarship from AIBL for student of the year.
A semester before graduation she participated in the Semester in Washington program, hosted by the George Washington University (GWU). She was a part of the Native American Political Leadership Program, where she took classes at GWU in political management and interned for Senator Tester of Montana, who sits on the Senate Committee of Indian Affairs.
Upon return from Washingon, DC, Maurissa transferred to the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay where she double majored in Economics and Public Administration with an emphasis in Public Management. After her graduation in 2012, she joined the workforce with a mentor positon with the Menominee Youth Empowerment Program at the College of Menominee Nation. She remained in this position for 2.5 years and added to her resume by being the recording clerk for the WisDOT Intertribal Task Force, and the Summer Transportation Institute coordinator. During this time Maurissa was also selected to be a part of the Shirley Daly Leadership Academy.
Maurissa’s time ended with CMN in August of 2015. She accepted the position of Education Director/School Success Coordinator for Little Earth of United Tribes located in South Minneapolis. She is currently working on her Master’s in Business Administration from University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh; she is expected to graduate in Fall of 2017.
Gerald Warrington graduated from the College of Menominee Nation in 2007 with his Associate Degree in Business Administration. In 2011 he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from Silver Lake College and in 2014 his Master’s Degree with an emphasis in Project Management from Lakeland College.
Gerald states, “CMN was the beginning of my educational journey. Growing up in Keshena, I thought College was out of the question. I was encouraged by my great-aunt, Dr. Jerilyn Grignon, to attend the technical trades program (Electrical and Carpentry) at CMN. I was inspired by my experiences in those programs to go even further in my education. I am proud to be a prodigy of what my community has produced by establishing this educational institution. My family and I are grateful for this opportunity.”
Gerald worked for the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin for 17 years as Project Manager for Community Development. He also worked for the Forest County Potawatomi as the Roads Program Manager. He is currently working with the Menominee Indian Tribe as General Manager for Wolf River Development Corporation.
He has been serving on the Northwood’s NiiJii Board since 2009 and is the Chairman of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Inter Tribal Taskforce. Gerald has more than 16 years of experience working with tribal governments and in the construction trade. He has managed projects that range from $100,000 to $4.5 million.
I have lived on the Menominee reservation almost my entire life. I completed K-12 on the reservation, attending the public and tribal school. In 2009, I graduated high school at the top of my class, and was named valedictorian. After a two year break working in a family-owned business in Chicago, I moved back to the reservation in Wisconsin and enrolled at the College of Menominee Nation (CMN).
I was not entirely sure what I wanted to do, but as someone who was diagnosed at age nine with Type 1 Diabetes, I had always considered a health-related field. As a student at the CMN, I went with a pre-nursing track in Biological & Physical Sciences and immediately began searching for an internship. Finding nothing local in the healthcare field, I extended my options to include the environmental portion of biology. In that program, I was able to complete an internship with the College’s Sustainable Development Institute as an Invasive Species Research Technician.
My work was in the Menominee Forestry Department identifying and understanding the control methods of current and potential invasive plants, insects, and diseases. This prepared me for a research project studying the impacts of European earthworms on northern hardwood forests. Because of these experiences, and with continuing support from American Indian College fund scholarships, I had the opportunity to travel and give presentations at several national student conferences, including AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society). AISES became a family and my new-found passion. I became an elected officer for the College of Menominee Nation’s chapter, and in 2014 was named a Sequoyah Fellow, lifetime member.
I completed my Associate Degree in Biological & Physical Sciences in May and am now the Program Assistant for the Menominee Youth Empowerment Program at the College.
I am glad I returned to the tribal college on my reservation. I don’t believe I would have found the opportunities I have experienced elsewhere. CMN is able to provide more one-on-one instruction and engagement and offer opportunities that were more welcoming and accessible than what’s possible at a larger institution. I appreciate the integration of culture and sustainability in the curriculum. Whether it is Business, Math, or Digital Media, there was always culture incorporated into assignments and discussions.
Today, thanks to my many great experiences at CMN, my goal is to become a teacher and mentor for my community and introduce scientific research to young students. I want to become a professional mentor like those who helped me to make sure there is a light flickering at the end of the tunnel for those who do not think it is possible.
Breon “Awesome” Cree graduated from the College of Menominee Nation with an Associate of Arts Degrees in 2011 and 2012, earning honors in both degrees. He is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians of North Dakota. Breon was very active with the College of Menominee Nation’s Internship program:
- In 2009 he was a Biological Technician with Big Horn Canyon National Park Service in Wyoming/Montana.
- In 2010 he was a Wildlife Technician with the Lincoln National Forest in New Mexico.
- In 2013 he was a Fisheries Technician with Arizona Game and Fish in Flagstaff, AZ.
He is especially proud of having revived the CMN Chapter of the American Science and Engineering Society (AISES). It has always been a dream of his to start a Menominee Youth Conservation program by demonstrating to Menominee youth the various STEM careers in Natural Resources. He is still active in AISES today.
Breon was also a recipient of seven scholarships, including two grants from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He expressed his gratitude by sharing this: “I would not have had the opportunities (with the internships and scholarships) if it were not for the College of Menominee Nation. A Tribal College made this possible and what a great experience it has been.”
Today, Breon and his wife Crystal reside in Flagstaff, AZ. He is currently pursuing his Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies at Northern Arizona University and is employed by the Arizona Army National Guard as a Motor Transport Operator. He would like to come back to the College of Menominee Nation and help teach our future leaders.
Geraldine Sanapaw graduated from the College of Menominee Nation with an Associate Degree in 2001, her Bachelor's Degree from Silver Lake College and Master's Degree MBA in 2013 from Lakeland College. She says this about her CMN years: " I enjoyed my time at CMN because of the small class size and the dedication of the faculty. CMN allowed me to get started on my higher education journey with a strong foundation of course work".
She is an enrolled member of the Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe. Geraldine serves as the Registrar for the College of Menominee Nation. Geraldine enjoys camping, reading and spending time with her grandchild.
Jolene Bowman graduated from the College of Menominee Nation with an A.A. in 2011 and B.S. in 2012, earning high honors with both degrees. She is an enrolled member of Stockbridge-Munsee Community and she is appreciative that she comes from an ancestral society of community builders and survivors that persisted through eight historical moves. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, shopping, and going to pow-wows. She actively spends time and cares for her grandmother or, as Jolene observes, is it more like her grandmother takes care of her.
Growing up in a home where she was regularly asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up and how do you plan on getting there?” led her to ponder these questions. Observing her mother attain a Bachelor’s Degree is when her interest in Indian education started. The start of her own higher education journey always seemed different from that of her peers, no matter which institution she attended, but she could never figure out why. Her interest continued to grow as she worked for Mohican Nation for a total of 22 years, with the last eight years as the Director of Education and Cultural Affairs. In this position, she is responsible for supervising areas of higher education, job training, Head Start, library/museum, and two school liaison positions. When she first started as the Director of Education and Cultural Affairs she realized that she had a strong management background, but that she needed to build her elementary education knowledge. This led her to pursue a second Associate Degree and a Bachelor’s Degree from the College of Menominee Nation in Early Childhood/Elementary Education. Jolene says that this opportunity strengthened her knowledge by gaining the skill set to feel comfortable working and communicating within the elementary education arena. Bridging management to elementary education fits within her purpose in life which is to be an activist serving the Mohican Nation and all Indian people for equal opportunities in education.
On June 13, 2014, she defended her dissertation titled, “Student Voices: A Phenomenological Exploration of Stockbridge-Munsee Student’s Experiences and Strategies Related to Persisting in Wisconsin Colleges”. She graduates on May 17, 2015 with a Doctor of Philosophy Degree (Ph.D.) from Cardinal Stritch University in Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service in Higher Education. Jolene’s additional higher education background includes a Master’s Degree in Management and Organizational Behavior from Silver Lake College; a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Marian College; an Associate Degree in Human Biology from UWGB; and a vocational diploma in Medical Assistant from NWTC. She says that as she completed her doctoral program she began to realize that although she attained many degrees in higher education she still feel like a young Indian girl from a small rural town called Morgan Siding in her first year of college.
Jolene’s personal mission statement is “live to serve and serve to live for growth in Indian education.” She believes that education for American Indians is an essential factor in preserving tribal nations through adversary in this century and the centuries to come. Being an American Indian researcher gave her the natural experience and knowledge of American Indian culture. This coincided with facing the challenges that center around privilege while studying in predominately white colleges. To have the opportunity to combine both worlds is truly a blessing, Jolene says.
I am a member of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians and am also a descendant of the Menominee Nation. In 2004, I graduated from CMN with an Associate of Arts and Science degree (A.A.S.). I continued my education through Silver Lake College and graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science degree (B.S.) in Business Management. I chose to continue my education through the University of Phoenix Online and obtained a Master of Business Administration degree (M.B.A.) in September 2013.
I decided shortly after high school that I wanted a college degree. I originally started my educational journey fresh out of high school at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. I completed one semester and decided it wasn’t for me. I realized I was lacking in the English department and there was a lot I needed to learn to be successful in school. I decided to enroll at the College of Menominee Nation where I felt I would receive more one-on-one help. I credit the English department at CMN for getting me to where I needed to be with grammar and the English skills I felt I needed to be successful.
I have been married for 14 years and have three children. I have worked full-time and attended school full-time throughout my adult life. My goal is to provide the best I can for my children and show them they can accomplish whatever they set their mind to.
I have been employed with the Menominee Casino since 1997. I accepted an Associate Administrator position with the College of Menominee Nation in 2011, only to return to the Casino in October 2013. Although I enjoyed my job at CMN, I realized that I missed working in Marketing. I was hired as the Entertainment and Promotions Coordinator and was recently promoted to the Guest Services Manager. I credit CMN for giving me the confidence to continue my education and to work toward a successful career. - Jen Peters
|Councilwoman Fawn Billie, right
Fawn Billie graduated from the College of Menominee Nation in Fall 2007 with an Associate of Arts & Sciences Degree - Liberal Studies/Social Science, and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in 2011 with a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies – Business Administration and a minor in First Nation Studies. She currently serves as councilwoman for the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin.
She has served as an Administrative Assistant III to the Principal K-8, Executive Tribal Clerk to the Oneida Tribal Secretary, and Recreation Specialist.
Fawn also volunteers in may ways, such as mentoring and coaching youth sports - West De Pere Fastbreak basketball and West De Pere U10 Girls Softball and with the American Cancer Society and American Red Cross.
"I want to lead and assist to make our community a better place for everyone. I’ve learned leadership rolls from coaching and being around positive, successful people for many years. Once again, we as parents, friends and relatives have a duty to nurture and protect our youth to ensure they will reach their potential.
Justin Eagle Gauthier
Posoh, my name is Justin Eagle Gauthier and I am a proud alumnus of the College of Menominee Nation. I attained two Associate degrees: Liberal Studies - Humanities and Sustainable Development upon graduating in Spring 2011. Thanks to my experience at College of Menominee Nation and a passion for education, I’ve been driven to pursue my Bachelor’s of Letters and Science in English - Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with an expected graduation date of December 2014.
As a student I found the environment and culture of the College of Menominee Nation to be fully supportive, both personally and professionally. During my tenure at the College I made meaningful friendships and experienced a wide array of academic challenges from many talented, dedicated educators. As an enrolled Menominee tribal member, I hold a tremendous amount of pride for the revered institution the College of Menominee Nation has become in the short time it has been a part of the tribe’s community. My experiences at the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) conferences representing the College gave me a different perspective on how our tribal college is perceived in Indian country and beyond. We have so much to be proud of as students, faculty, administrators, alumni, friends, and family of the College of Menominee Nation.
Thanks to my time as a student at CMN and the professional development I experienced as an intern with the Sustainable Development Institute, I’ve found myself prepared and set up for success in my transition to the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
My educational journey started in 2002 after I was discharged from the Navy. I received my Associates degree in Business Administration in 2003 and was a part of a Silver Lake Cohort. In 2005, I graduated with my Bachelor's degree in Business Management. I worked for the Menominee tribe and the College of Menominee Nation. Recently I was certified for home health care and am working in that area. I am also taking MBA courses through Concordia University in Appleton, WI.
I am an enrolled Menominee. I have 3 children, and recently got engaged and am planning my wedding.
Sabrina James is a 2012 Nursing graduate of the College of Menominee Nation. She is a direct descendant of the Menominee tribe and says that she is truly honored to be part of the nursing program alumni for the College of Menominee Nation.
Her educational journey started in 2009 when she found herself without a job. Sabrina says that CMN taught her that with each struggle comes a greater sense of accomplishment. She says that she received honest and compassionate support from some of the nursing faculty and some of the staff such as, Al Pyatskowit, Linda Grignon, and Susan Waukau.
Sabrina mentions one comment that sticks with her to this day. Her mental health instructor, Jean Swift, “Sabrina, think about what you are asking. Do you really think I am just going to give you the answer? No, I am not. This is where learning begins. You need to answer the question after you think about it.” At the time, Sabrina says she was not searching for an answer, but rather an explanation as to why? Sabrina says this comment continues to make her think and question, and be a critical thinker.
Sabrina is currently working at Pine Manor Health and Rehabilitation Center as a registered nurse. Her educational journey is not over. She plans to pursue a Master’s Degree through the University of Oshkosh. Her family consists of husband, four children and beloved dog, Bella.
Lee graduated with his BA in Public Administration in May 2014. He was recently hired with Menominee County as their new Assistant Finance Manager. Lee states, "I am grateful to CMN for providing me with the tools I needed to be successful and I am also grateful for the opportunities for professional and personal growth that CMN has been able to provide."
He would like to thank Dr. Fowler and everyone else at CMN who has supported him and challenged him to strive for greatness and always keep an eye on the future.
Kim Hill started at the College of Menominee Nation (CMN) in 2003 after the birth of her fourth child. She knew at that point in her life she needed to go to college to provide a better living for her children and to be a role model for them. Her mother and grandmother had always encouraged academics and stressed the importance of education. It was after they passed away that Kim was inspired to go back to school. She was nervous about going back to school after so many years out of school, but says the professors at CMN were helpful and the classes were small enough that it was not as intimidating as she thought it would be.
One of the faculty, Myrna Warrington was very encouraging throughout Kim’s time at CMN, and as we all know encouragement builds success. CMN was able to give Kim the confidence and tools needed to succeed at UW Oshkosh. The highlight for Kim was being able to attend AIHEC and participate in the Knowledge Bowl in New Mexico. Her most memorable moment was graduation day and the amount of pride and success she felt having accomplished her goal. CMN further instilled confidence, inspiration and a drive to succeed, so Kim was able to move on and keep attaining her educational goals. Kim says her is honored to be an Alumni of her own Tribal College, and to be a role model for her community. She hopes to pass on the same inspiration and encouragement she received. Kim went on to obtain her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from UW Oshkosh in May 2009 and passed her state board exam in November 2009.
Kim has been a very proud Registered Nurse for the Menominee Tribal Clinic since May 2010. Her advice to those thinking about attending college: “Never be afraid to try and seek out those people that encourage you and inspire you to do better! Also I have learned through Nursing school that when classes get tough, don’t let yourself get discouraged and don’t be afraid to ask for help!”
Cedar Kakkak graduated from the College of Menominee Nation (CMN) in the spring of 2007 with an Associate Degree in Sustainable Development. While attending CMN, she received scholarships from the American Indian College Fund, Association on American Indian Affairs, and Ford Motor Company.
Cedar’s favorite memory while at CMN was attending the College Bowl in Albuquerque, NM. and traveling to Chiapas, Mexico, with the SEEDS group. Cedar said, “Beginning my education at the College of Menominee Nation opened so many other doors for opportunity. It is important for young adults of the Menominee Nation to receive higher education to not only better themselves, but to better the entire Menominee community.”
Cedar graduated from UW Madison in May, 2010, with a Bachelor of Science–Community and Nonprofit Leadership. She is currently attending UW Oshkosh for Masters in Public Administration with an expected graduation date of spring 2015, and is currently employed at MITW in the Department of Administration.
Rochelle Tourtillott, Marine Corp Veteran
Rochelle Tourtillott is a first-generation graduate who received her Associate Degree in Business Administration from the College of Menominee Nation in 2008. She served in the U.S. Marine Corp and was honorably discharged in 2004. Rochelle has taken advantage of the GI Bill, and since graduating from CMN is continuing her Bachelor’s Degree studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay majoring in Business Administration with an emphasis in Public Administration. Rochelle expects to graduate in Spring 2015.
She currently works as the Budget Analyst/Account Technician at the Menominee Public Transportation Department and is involved in the Marines Corps Birthday Committee. She is the mother of a four-year-old daughter.
Bruce Wilber, Jr., Army Veteran
Bruce graduated from the College of Menominee Nation (CMN) in 2004 with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in AODA Counseling. A U.S. Army veteran, Bruce began his college career in 2002 by participating in CMN’s Veteran’s Upward Bound Program. He is a first-generation college graduate.
He has worked professionally for the Menominee Tribe’s Maehnowesekiyah (“We will feel better”) Wellness Center as an AODA Counselor and was appointed by the Menominee Tribal Legislature to a three-year term as a Lower Court Judge.
He and his wife, Shannon, are involved in the community as sponsors of a Traditional Men’s Contest held in memory of LCPL Bradley J. Wilber at the Tribe’s Annual Sturgeon Feast. He also participates in the community as Master of Ceremony for the Winter Round House Celebrations and as a traditional men’s dancer.
The Wilbers, who are consultants in a business named Pemohnaeyha (Walking Together), have a family of seven children and seven grandchildren.
Carol has lived on the Menominee Indian Reservation all her life. She graduated from the College of Menominee Nation in 2013, earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education/Elementary Education.
She has been with the Head Start program for 17 years and is currently working with 21 pre-kindergarten students at the Middle Village site. She is looking to continue her education online studying sign language.
Carol graduated with the assistance of the Head Start Grant and was nominated for Student of the Year in her graduation year.