Liberal Education (2011)
Those who aren’t familiar with the Tribal College movement sometimes wonder why these institutions are needed when large state colleges and universities already exist. Leila Jones is a perfect example of the crucial role played by Leech Lake Tribal College. Leila enrolled at Bemidji State University after high school–twice–and wasn’t able to make it work either time. Leila was left with a string of bad grades and a significant amount of student debt to pay off, with not much to show for it.
Rather than giving up, Leila enrolled at Leech Lake Tribal College after being encouraged by a close friend who was already attending. The small, close-knit campus and supportive staff and faculty gave Leila the confidence she needed to grow, both academically and personally.
Leila became a terrific leader, serving on LLTC’s Student Senate and tutoring students in the Learning Center. She was elected by her peers as the Great Lakes Region representative to the American Indian Higher Education Consortium’s Student Congress.
After graduating from Leech Lake Tribal College, Leila was armed with the knowledge, skills and confidence she needed to take another shot at a four-year degree. She once again enrolled at Bemidji State University, and this time, prepared by her LLTC education, Leila found success. During her previous stint at BSU, Leila had taken a Physical Science class and received an F for her grade. This time around, she retook the same class with the same professor … and earned an A!
Leila graduated from BSU in 2013 with a degree in Chemistry and a cumulative GPA of 3.86. She secured an internship at a local pharmacy and is now enrolled in a Master’s program in Public Health. After completing her Master’s program, she plans to enroll in a doctoral program with the goal of becoming a Pharmacist and working in tribal communities.
When asked about the role LLTC played in her personal and academic growth, Leila simply says, “Leech Lake Tribal College gave me the tools I needed to succeed in life.”
This incredible before-and-after story shows the life-changing value of a Leech Lake Tribal College education.