she waited to be celebrated Friday for her professional achievements,
Audrey Bercier gathered son Tucker, 7, into her arms.
is a big part of why the physician assistant from Belcourt, N.D.,
was back on the UND campus, one of seven American Indians honored
by the university for seizing educational opportunities and moving
in UND President Robert Kelleys words into
fields of their interest, their passion, and shattering stereotypes.
30, an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and
a former nurse, received a masters degree in physician assistant
studies in May 2007. She works at a health care facility in Belcourt.
helped her as she studied anatomy and other medical subjects at
UND from 2005 to 2007.
let me practice all my examinations, she said. He was
my patient, my study aid my guinea pig. And he was the only
kid in Head Start who knew what phalanges are.
had to look it up: bone between fingers.)
of the seven men and women honored Friday is featured in a poster
that will be displayed across campus and around the country, the
second group in a series that UND started last year. Titled Beyond
Beads and Feathers, the posters aim to address stereotypes
and pigeonholing and celebrate the aspirations and abilities of
Indian student enrollment could be counted on one hand decades ago,
said Robert Boyd, vice president for student and outreach services,
and now is in the hundreds, supported by 29 Indian-related
graduates have become some of the nations best in law
and medicine, engineering and art and many other fields, he said,
all while honoring the traditions they inherited as American
ceremony opened with a cedar smudge and a Lakota prayer offered
by Doug McDonald, a professor of psychology and director of UNDs
Indians Into Psychology program, and it ended with an honor song
performed by the Rivers Edge Drum Group, whose members are
UND Indian students.
portrait posters celebrating this years class of honorees
constitute a contemporary portrayal of Indian people,
said Leigh Jeanotte, director of American Indian Student Services,
as opposed to long-held, often painful stereotypes.
addition to Bercier, they include:
Agard, a 1999 UND Law School graduate and member of the Standing
Rock Sioux Tribe, an associate judge in the Standing Rock Tribal
Eagle, a 2003 UND graduate in public administration, now assistant
director of his Three Affiliated Tribes Boys and Girls
Club in New Town, N.D.
Gonzalez, a member of the White Earth Band of Chippewa, earned
a masters degree and, in 2005, a doctorate in psychology,
and is now an assistant professor of psychology at Bemidji State
was good to come to a school and see other brown faces,
Gonzalez said in an emotional response. He lost his father and
a sister while in graduate school, he said, but supportive,
understanding people were there to help him through that and
other difficulties. Indian
life is tough, he said. Its hard to be an
Indian. But Im glad I was born an Indian.
Haskell, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux in South Dakota
and an undergraduate at UND majoring in psychology and aviation.
Both my parents taught me they didnt really care
what I did, he said, as long as I did it well.
Lawrence, a member of the Spirit Lake Nation, earned a nursing
degree from UND in 2000. She is a clinical nurse at the Spirit
Lake Health Center in Fort Totten, N.D.
Shrupp, a member of the Pheasant Rump Nakota Tribe of Saskatchewan,
earned bachelors (1990) and masters (1993) degrees
in fine arts from UND. Her work is displayed in major galleries
around the country, and she works as an artist in Lakota, N.D.
used the occasion to thank former UND President Thomas Clifford,
who died earlier this month. If it wasnt for President
Clifford, I wouldnt be here, she said. I had
run out of funding, and I went to see him. I told him, I
need five minutes of your time. At the end of the five
minutes, I walked out with a full scholarship.
offered thanks to her parents, Bruce and Raylane Parisien, for
being there for me every step of the way, and for instilling in
me a work ethic.
Parisien said her daughter was one of those kids just
like Tucker who was always so inquisitive, easily bored if
you didnt keep challenging her.
father, a carpet installer, added, She won every science fair
she ever entered, including one about allergies and bacteria in
almost broke me, he said, smiling and shaking his head. She
wanted to do away with carpet.
who has a deep interest in the American presidency (and claims to
know which one once skinny-dipped in the Potomac River), ranks John
F. Kennedy as the best because he was young and
has calculated that he could be the 50th U.S. president in 30 years
brought two new books on the presidents to the ceremony Friday and
showed them to Boyd, who said he fancies himself a presidential
knows more than I do, Boyd said.
started Head Start the same day his mother began working toward
her credential as a physician assistant.
was my inspiration, she said. He made me want to be
a person he could look up to, somebody who would make the world
a better place for him.
I feel so appreciated by my community. People say, Youre
from here? Youre going to stay? I can come back to the health
service in a month and youll still be here? They arent
used to that.
Haga at (701) 780-1102; (800) 477-6572, ext. 102; or send e-mail