Published December 20, 2017
LARAMIE, WYOMING – Reinette Redbird Tendore comes from a Wind River Indian Reservation family that truly values education.
The Ethete student and Wyoming Indian High School graduate (2000) has earned two degrees from the University of Wyoming: a bachelor’s degree (2009) in elementary education, with an emphasis in cultural diversity and a minor in American Indian studies; and a master’s degree (2017) in social work.
She also was named the Student of the Year in the UW Division of Social Work and the 2017 recipient of the Dr. Willena Stanford Commitment to Diversity Award.
That background, and a desire to help other Native American students succeed, has helped Tendore in becoming UW’s first Native American Program adviser under the Dean of Students Office. Her office is housed in the new UW Native American Education, Research and Cultural Center (NAERCC) on campus. She will work directly with Native American students, focusing on recruitment and retention, especially those living in Wyoming.
“It is important to acknowledge the culture and sense of community for Native American college students and to be able to recruit others from many different reservations,” she says. “I would hope that my own personal story of being enrolled, coming from the Wind River reservation and graduating with both of my degrees at UW would encourage and inspire other students to work toward their higher education goals, also here at UW.”
She credits her family, enrolled Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribal members, for reaching her professional goal of helping others. Tendore’s inspirations are her parents, Becky Sage and Ralph Curry, who emphasized higher education, plus her own family: husband Lee Tendore and children Hudda Herrera, Rhaelle and Riquell Curry, and Rylee Tendore.
“I come from a family where education is highly valued, and I am very thankful for that. I realize the importance of passing that on to the future and current Native American students here at UW,” Tendore says. “I would like to continue building relationships with reservations, tribal leaders and tribal communities.”
Nycole Courtney, UW interim Dean of Students, says her office is “thankful and excited to have Reinette join our team,” adding she will be a good asset.
“Reinette comes to us with a plethora of experiences. She has had the opportunity to work closely with all Wyoming tribes, which has led to building many great relationships,” Courtney says. “Her job is to help Native students feel connected, stay engaged and graduate. Her position also will be instrumental in building a sense of community on and off the reservation.”
As UW’s Native American Program adviser, Tendore says it is important for her to recognize the unique culture and identity of current and prospective Native college students.
“Providing direct support and resources is what I would really like to focus on to be able to retain our students here at UW,” she adds.
Under the direction of the Dean of Students Office, Tendore will work with other programs and services across campus that focus on helping students become successful and reach their personal goals, such as the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, and Multicultural Affairs. She also will be involved with the center’s programs — American Indian Studies, the High Plains American Indian Research Institute and the student Keepers of the Fire organization. She will continue to be instrumental in the building of the Summer Institute for Native high school students to come to campus for a week and learn more about the institution.
The NAERCC, located in the facility that formerly housed UW’s Honors Program, is a “living-learning community” that helps support the academic achievement and personal success of Native American students while promoting traditional culture. The facility opened earlier in the fall semester. Tendore says the NAERCC is “crucial to the success of Native students, because it provides the safe space for them to have access to a study space, and to provide a sense of community for all students who use the center.
“Native American culture is very close-knit, and this will give the students an opportunity to feel a connection to their tribal identities and to the communities they come from,” she says. “Having the program adviser position housed in the center will be beneficial to current Native students, because I will be a support for them as they work toward their higher education goals.”
She adds that the center also provides an educational component in UW’s efforts to become a more diverse and inclusive campus.
“I am humbled to have this great opportunity to be in a position where I can assist students and the university itself in reaching their respective goals,” Tendore says. “I appreciate President Laurie Nichols for working so hard, advocating for our Native community and making the NAERCC and my position possible. Everything that I do, I put my heart into it, and this field has always been a passion of mine. I know that I will do my best as the UW Native American Program adviser.”
Courtney adds that the addition of Tendore’s position will advance the mission of helping Native students come to UW.
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This BBSNews article originally appeared on Native News Online.