March 13, 2013

Cheyenne River student is NASA Ambassador

Uses Knife wins NASA Internship, becomes NASA Ambassador

By Christina RoseWinning singing contests, art contests, being a model and an accomplished hoop dancer might be enough for some, but not for Delaena Rae Uses Knife, 27, of Eagle Butte, SD, who fully intends to reach her dream of becoming an astrophysicist. Uses Knife is looking forward to a summer internship with NASA and she has also been named one of five of South Dakota’s NASA Ambassador. “It’s a surreal moment for me,” Uses Knife said.

“A NASA Student Ambassador is an honor offered to selective internship/fellowship students,” read an email from NASA headquarters. As an Ambassador, Delaena will have access to employment opportunities and educational experiences that will increase her skills while she continues to work towards her degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, or STEM.

Before she graduated from her reservation high school, Delaena was told by her guidance counselors that she should not attempt to reach her goal of attending Harvard. “Everyone told me I should be a painter,” Delaena said with a wry smile.

Struggling with low self-esteem and being told she wasn’t capable of going to Harvard, Delaena didn’t apply. “At that age, we are so accepting of what the counselors tell us we can be,” she said.
Comment:  Another example of how people--the poor, women, minorities--are told their place in society. In other words, another example of how racism and sexism holds people back. Overcoming these obstacles requires these people to be stronger and more determined than the average white male who has centuries of advantages behind him.

For more on Native science students, see Navajo Nation Science Fair and Native Students in Science Bowl.

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