AIGC alumnus: Why did I return?
Published: Thursday, April 24th, 2014
In March 2008, during a major operation, my heart stopped. I had a NDE [near death experience]. I met the Creator and was told, ‘You’re not finished. You still have work to do.’”
An AIGC alumnus, Dr. AC Ross (Sichangu and Santee Sioux) asked himself the question, “Why did I return?” When separated, the words in this question stand alone as simple, versatile and common. Yet, when combined, they form something profound.
Why am I here? It is an awakening question; one that begets an individual to ponder his or her own meaning or purpose. The response to “Why am I here?” might change for some, as life experiences drive new motivations and wisdom awakens dormant passions. It is an introspective question demanding an equally thoughtful answer.
For Dr. Ross, the answer to that question began long before his first breath. His mother was a scholarly trailblazer. After high school, she attended Haskell Institute and, in 1930, obtained her two-year teaching degree. She advanced to a bachelor’s/master’s program, completing her graduate degree from Northern Arizona University. Her doctorate was received from Oglala Lakota College.
“She taught for 28 years on Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservations. She was instrumental in getting the Oglala Lakota College started,” Ross proudly recalls. “When she retired from the school system, she became the first woman tribal chair person in modern times. She had four sons and inspired all of us.”
And inspire she did. Each of his three brothers hold advanced degrees. Dr. Ross has a doctorate in Education Administration, from Western Colorado University, a Master of Arts in Education, from Arizona State University, and a Bachelor of Science in Education, from Black Hills State University. “Her influence has permeated down and spread,” he explains.
Dr. Ross spent the majority of his career serving a range of capacities in the education industry and watched as his mother’s influence continued to spread through three generations. “My siblings and I have 12 children in education. We have five teachers, a counselor and one principal. One wrote a grant and started her own program – The Coalition for Healthy and Resilient Youth – to prevent high school dropouts. Another is head of Indian Education at Oglala Sioux Tribe. One of my granddaughters just stared teaching school. Three granddaughters are currently seniors in college majoring in education,” Dr. Ross declares. “We are a family of educators.”
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