Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska
Nebraska Indian Community College
Marilyn and Sarah, a mother-daughter duo have overcome their challenges and are accomplishing their dreams while studying at Nebraska Indian Community College (NICC) thanks to the power of family support.
Marilyn’s journey to college was not easy. After raising three children, fostering others, and overcoming illness and a disability, Marilyn set out to pursue her academic dreams. Despite several obstacles that delayed her Human Services degree, she is a firm believer that the “third time’s the charm” and plans to provide drug and alcohol counseling and elderly care after graduating this year. Marilyn has only one complaint about school—the lessons and classes don’t “come fast enough” to satisfy her curiosity for new knowledge. This seems to run in the family.
Sarah, Marilyn’s daughter, also had a long-standing dream to attend college and become a lawyer and tribal chairwoman. Her family’s belief in her capabilities and desire for her to succeed, Sarah says, helped make that dream a reality. As President of NICC’s student senate and a member of the American Indian Higher Education Student Congress, Sarah is making the most of her dream. Yet her accomplishments did not come without struggle, and she says only through learning to juggle her responsibilities has been able to succeed.
Although attending college with family members is not always easy, the women say they have a unique opportunity to encourage and motivate each other. Marilyn admires her daughter who “sets her mind to do something” and then “sticks with it until she accomplishes what she has set forth to do,” despite obstacles. She adds, “Sarah certainly doesn’t get this from me.”
Yet Sarah says, “My mother is my total inspiration. She has overcome so many obstacles in life and still manages to stand strong on her own two feet,” Sarah says. She recalls when Marilyn was diagnosed with diabetes and how it affected her mother’s health. “Today, my mother is still standing strong, finishing what she started many years ago. Words could not explain the feeling when we both walk across the stage to receive our diploma as college graduates in May 2015. One thing my mother has taught me was to always finish what you have started. No matter how you finish, just finish it.”
Outside of school, Marilyn and Sarah’s worlds are intertwined. In addition to Sarah, Marilyn has two other children and four grandchildren. And all of Sarah’s children have attended or plan to attend NICC. Tribal college education truly is a family affair!
Marilyn and Sarah are continuing the progression toward graduation and their dreams, while holding both the wisdom of and respect for both past and future for their family and their community.