Taking Steps

Things move fast in tribal college. We’ve already passed the midterm. One great benefit of attending tribal college is the individualized attention you will receive.  I’ve attended several colleges and universities, both public and private, but the attention and support I’ve received at tribal college has been second to none.

Tribal college faculty and staff are very concerned with an individual’s success; you will not just be a number, as I was at large colleges and universities.  At my tribal college, there is a student success counselor who can help with anything that isn’t working for a student.  For example, if the IT department hasn’t created an online profile yet, and the registration deadline is approaching, the student success counselor will get the student registered, and even mail a schedule of classes when registration is complete. Although I was not eligible for tribal scholarships or Pell grants, my student success counselor went above and beyond the call of duty, finding tuition waivers to cover almost all my costs.

My law enforcement advisor has been extremely supportive as well. He let me know what to expect when interviewing for placement in a Minnesota Peace Officers Skills Training (POST) program (12 credits of courses like firearms and defense tactics), which I will need to attend in the spring since our tribal college does not have skills integrated into the AAS program.  I just received the Law Enforcement Skills Program acceptance letter and have registered for two prerequisite courses, so I’m steadily making steps toward accomplishing the goals necessary to work in law enforcement in the state of Minnesota.

If you look at everything involved in studying law enforcement, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. You might even say, “it’s just too much for me.” That’s why it’s helpful to break down everything into smaller, separate goals. Your tribal college advisor or success counselor can help you to break down and prioritize tasks. You never have to feel that you are alone.

Although I do not celebrate Thanksgiving, I am very grateful for all of the assistance and blessings I have received this semester. The faculty and staff at tribal college are all so dedicated to our success, I never feel alone in this academic journey. On the job, my sergeant is so positive, supportive, and humble. He won’t allow anyone to refer to him as “boss.” He recommended me for some great overtime hours doing medical transports (usually from county jails to state hospitals), which is proving to be relevant work experience for a prospective law enforcement officer. I can recommend private security work if you’d like to get some basic experience doing patrols, surveillance, crisis management, and report writing. Private security usually provides more flexibility than local law enforcement agencies for students who might want full or part time work.

If you’ve been thinking about tribal college, the time to start is now. Spring semester starts in January, so it’s good to start early, filling out the application, sending your high school transcript or GED, and other necessary items.

Rachel Peterman, JD, is a student at Leech Lake Tribal College.

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