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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Belcourt ND Native Graduates From Harvard University At Age 20
McKayla Gourneau

As if graduating from Harvard with a degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology isn't impressive enough try doing it before you can even legally drink.

“I applied to Harvard as a joke,” said McKayla Gourneau who is now graduating Harvard.

For Belcourt native McKayla Gourneau.

“I mean, it’s Harvard. I didn’t think I’d get in,” said McKayla.

Getting into one of the top Ivy league schools wasn’t her plan..

“We’ve always been so proud of her,” said Margo Gourneau, McKayla’s Mom.

Much less at only 16 years old.

“I don’t know how you were at 16, but I thought I knew it all,” said McKayla.

McKayla graduated from Turtle Mountain High School 2-years early and now now she’s preparing to graduate college, before she can step foot in a bar.

“Looking back I don’t know if I was completely ready for it, I might have gone too early,” said McKayla.

This accomplishment didn’t come without some setbacks.

“I didn’t really know how to study, I remember getting a C- my freshman year and was like ‘oofh’,” said McKayla.

Without her family and the native community at Harvard, she wasn’t sure she could make it.

“My mom and dad always told me, it’s’ okay if you don’t finish,” said McKayla.

That unconditional support was what convinced her to never give up.

“Knowing I had that option, but the type of person I am, I was like, nah. I have to finish,” said McKayla.

McKayla has always had big ambitions.

“From the time she was 18 months old. She had this ability. we knew we were in trouble and from that Point on. There was no stopping her,” said Margo.

So don’t expect her to slow down anytime soon.

“I’m going to hopefully be applying to medical school, get a master’s in education, a masters in Public Health,” said McKayla.

She hopes her journey help inspire other kids from the reservation, because she believes with the right support system you can do anything you set your mind to.

“You’ll never get to do something if you don’t try it,” said McKayla.

McKayla graduates from Harvard on the 25th.

She’ll also be the Keynote Speaker at her old high school’s commencement on May 28th.

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