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Native American Student and Alumni Leaders

Students and Alumni Making a Difference in their Communities

Lily Boivin ’20


  • Hometown: Keshena, Wisconsin
  • Menominee
  • Major: American Indian studies
  • Minor: psychology

“There’s a strong support system here to help you get acclimated to college, especially coming from a boarding school setting. You’re exposed to so much more diversity here…it was a culture shock. I am getting exposed to more new thing every day but Morris still feels like a safe space. The bridge program, Gateway, helps provide that support and lets you get to know the feel of college early on without the big college shock. You get to meet the faculty and staff before the pressure of when campus is in full swing. It’s easy to get into student organizations at Morris, because all you have to do to get involved is to show up! And above all, Google Calendar is going to be your best friend.”

Veronica Haverkamp ’18


  • Hometown: Detroit Lakes
  • White Earth Nation
  • ​Majors: American Indian studies and psychology

Veronica is involved in a variety of American Indian events and programs on campus. She leads the Anishinaabe Language table, is the teaching assistant for the Intro Anishinaabe course, is a member of Circle of Nations Indigenous Association, and is a peer mentor for the Native American Student Success program. She plans on assisting with the 2017 Anishinaabe Language Immersion Camp and will present as part of a panel at the 2017 Native American Literature Symposium, a national professional conference where she will discuss her involvement in the #NoDAPL movement at Standing Rock.

"The community among Native students here is very welcoming. I have had many opportunities here to engage with other Native students that I don't believe I would have at another university."

Jay Vocu '17

Hometown: Pine Ridge, SD
Oglala Lakota
Major: English

“Getting to know LGBTQIA2S+ community on campus has been very important to me. They have provided a great support system for me.” Jay is very involved with the campus LGBTQIA2S+ organization MoQSIE. She also says she appreciates that UMM has a designated LGBT staff member on campus who is unbelievably supportive, and a good leader, mentor, and advocate for the LGBTQIA2S+ community. Being involved on campus has allowed Jay to meet students who were able to help with the vocabulary and support she needed while in the process of coming out. The students do so much of the work for programming and peer support and are vocal on campus; as one of these student leaders, Jay has been able to speak  and present information on Two Spirit identity and UMM’s unique student lead support group at state and national conferences such as the 2017 Minnesota Out! Campus Conference (MOCC) and MBLTACC 2017, a conference that helps celebrate identities and enabling college students and develop resiliency against personal and societal injustices. 

Jay also says that the English department on campus has been understanding, supportive, polite, and helped her get through her degree.  “I’m not sure where I would be without them.”
Jay’s advice to new students is this: “When it comes to club on campus, give them a try because you never know who you’re going to meet.”

Darren Cook '20

Hometown: Redlake, MN
Red Lake Nation
Major: Management and Communications, Media, & Rhetoric

Darren has been extremely involved in Native American student life at UMM. He is active in the Circle of Nations Indigenous Association (CNIA) and as a first year student, he volunteered to chair a committee for our 33rd annual powwow. Darren has proven himself to be a trustworthy leader being elected as a co-chair for the CNIA group on campus for the 2017-18 school year.  Darren has presented his experiences from his time in Standing Rock at the international professional conference the Native American Literature Symposium with fellow students from UMM and Sisseton Wahpeton College. Darren started our campus drum group playing with fellow students from different tribal affiliations. 

“Don’t be afraid to apply yourself and seek help as much as possible; faculty and staff are always open to help you. Make as many friends as you can. And this may sound cheesy, but step outside of your comfort zone. There’s a wide variety of opportunities in your dorm building, on campus, and in the Morris community.”


Paulette Fairbanks Molin '66, PhD

  • White Earth Band of Ojibwe
  • Majors: English, French
  • Morris's first American Indian graduate
  • 2005 UMM Distinguished Alumni Award recipient
  • PhD from University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
  • Independent Scholar/Former Assistant Dean of the Graduate College and Director, American Indian Educational Opportunity Program, at Hampton University in Virginia

Molin is an educator and writer whose books include American Indian Themes in Young Adult Literature (Scarecrow Press, 2005) and The Extraordinary Book of Native American Lists (coauthored with Arlene Hirschfelder, Scarecrow Press, 2012).

Teresa Peterson '91, PhD

  • Upper Sioux Community
  • Majors: liberal arts for the human services
  • PhD from the University of Minnesota, Duluth
  • MS from Southwest State University
  • Bush Fellow
  • Founding Director of Dakota Wicohan




Dean Parisian '76

  • White Earth Chippewa/Ojibwe
  • Majors: economics, social science, secondary education
  • Founder/chief investment officer, Chippewa Partners Native American Advisors, Inc.




Rondell Reid LeBeau II '02

  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
  • Major: political science
  • 2001 Harry S. Truman Scholar
  • 2005 Cum Laude Graduate of University of Minnesota Law School
  • Jacobson Buffalo Magnuson, Anderson & Hagen, attorney and lobbyist representing tribes in Minnesota and South Dakota


Jill Doerfler '01, PhD

  • White Earth Anishinaabe
  • Majors: American Indian studies, history
  • Department Head of American Indian studies, University of Minnesota, Duluth
  • Coauthor with Gerald Vizenor, The White Earth Nation: Ratification of a New Democratic Constitution



Larry Traversie '00

  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
  • Major: speech communication
  • Partnership manager, Positive Coaching Alliance MN Chapter

  • University of Minnesota, Morris Alumni Association Board of Directors