College Admissions Decisions. Accepted and Rejected? Me too… Part of the Spiritual Journey of Life


We have all been there……Through rejection I have become the person who I am today . Remember the path in life is guided through rejection. Through rejection I knew that opportunity was not my calling or the way my dreams could become a reality.  But it doesn’t mean I enjoyed the process of rejection or thought it was the greatest experience. Never! It was hard! I know!

Through Acceptance I learned where my life was being spiritually guided.

It is the unfortunately apart of my job and literally the worst aspect to my job as Admissions Recruiter  at UCLA. Especially to work in an institution that cannot accept everyone. I loved every Native Application I read; many of them were incredible. After spending months reading 1000 essays for the UCLA Admissions cycle Freshman Application Admissions. The bitter sweet reality is that both Acceptances and Denied letters will soon roll in this Spring or for some already have. We can only hold so many spots.

To all High School Seniors and anyone who applied to graduate programs or phDs.  I just want to say know whatever your story maybe; the college acceptance or Gates Millennium scholarship acceptance (or any other scholarship) does not define your value or prove your worth.

I believe in the bigger picture and greater purpose to our lives and that we are guided spiritually. As long as you try your best the Universe has listened to your dream and has asked you to give back to others. Know college acceptance is only an opportunity that is calling for you saying “I heard your dream and this is where you can accomplish it.” The Denial Letters are only the way the greater universe is saying “this is not where I need you or where I think your dreams can thrive.” Trust that no matter what happens you will be guided to your greater calling in life even if it doesn’t look like everyone else.

The Universe does not forget you! Or your Dreams!!

Do not follow the norm if your heart says “No”. Do not chase big names because of the name but choose “fit” and if you will be happy. You know your own happiness more than anyone else does. I say this especially when Gates Millennium Scholars news is coming. I have seen the devastation and hurt from my former students. I have experienced the rejection, confusion and anxiety of not knowing what is going to happen. I know I have been there but I promise we make it with “Rejection” and “Acceptance”

I have both a Bachelors Degree and Masters Degree in Education and I was not awarded the Gates and or Daniels Fund. I can even find those students for you who made it through college without Gates and the Daniels Fund without Debt or with little to no debt. Some of us have had to take out Debt in College loans to go through college and have had to pay loans back while serving our Native communities. Many students I knew had to put their college dreams on hold because of finances or life circumstances. Yet, that never meant they gave up on their dream. I saw many students come back from the dark ready and determined as ever before.

I have even seen students who never dreamed of college later in life went back for their degrees and slayed. Our paths look different and it is meant to be like that for whatever reason we are asked to experience our lives differently from each other.

Everything comes in full circle.  I have spiritually experienced that everything will all work out exactly how it needs too. It is apart of our spiritual journey and growth. We become who we are through our experiences.

Again I need to emphasize the universe does not forget you.

Truth is in High School UCLA was my #1 choice until I saw the price and thought I could never afford it! So instead of trying, I never applied. Now I work here in the Admissions office as the Native American Recruiter. The Universe does not forget you I promise everything will be Ok!

Be proud you applied and looked for opportunities. If you didn’t apply then you would never know where the universe is asking you to go to especially if you do nothing. It is ok to be emotional, disappointed, and feel you could have done more but know that dream you had will still be there to guide you on to your next decisions. It is ok to change paths if it will make you happy. Be gentle on yourself and to others. Please support each other during these next months.

Take a Deep Breath in and Breath out and say “Thank you”. 3 times again. Life is precious and worth living for there is hope, there is light and there is life.

Let us celebrate our opportunities and be grateful we have been asked to be apart of the journey to who we are meant to become. Whatever your education journey maybe; I celebrate your life, your journey and the connections we make to our communities.

#madeitwithoutmrgates #madeitwithoutmrdaniels #notagatesscholars #danielsfundreject #DearNativeYouth



Real Life Indian Relocated…….to Los Angeles

I never imagined in my life I would move to Los Angeles. For those of you who don’t know me I am from Denver, Colorado and definitely a die hard for my home town. I was given a new opportunity to start my new position as the official UCLA Native American Recruiter for Undergraduate Admissions. Higher Education has been my passion and access for Native students has always been the focus of my work. It has been busy in which case, I know I have been neglecting my website and delaying my project. Not to worry folks this Fall I am hoping to bring it back to speed with the new people I meet, the community here and telling the stories I encounter…….Here is to new beginnings!!!!! We will be up and running before Heritage month! And who knows maybe I will have a new sub team out here soon! 1172534_10151781375195865_958959209_o

Riding into the Rez Sunset

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I figured I needed my own “Real Life Indian” photo, so to speak. This was taken by me sometime over the Summer. My cousin, Cord (on the bike), wanted to ride my mom’s Harley but, after being left in the open all Winter and Spring, the battery was dead and it wouldn’t start. Jumping the battery didn’t work so we thought we would try push-starting it. The other two in the photo are my other cousins, Pressler and Skyler. We started laughing after a while because we said that it looked like to any people passing by this was how we ride the motorcycle. Taking turns pushing each other and that this was “how a real native drove a Harley-Davidson”. The real significance in this picture, however, comes from the guys in it. I’m an ex-military brat so I’ve moved around a lot and lost a lot of friends because of it. The friends I’ve kept the longest have been these cousins that I grew up with.

-Christian “WarHorse” Phelps

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(This came from an assignment I gave to have student to pick 3 favorite photos and write about it.-Viki)



Inspired by many Natives Across the Country in Academia. Here’s to the reality, change and never staying silent. University of Denver-NSA Thanks to my team for being wonderful, supportive, encouraging and speaking out.

Emily Jean Francis Wayka



Meet Emily Jean Francis Wayka and her photo bomber . A local vendor at many Colorado Pow Wow’s. Growing up she learned how to beadwork from her Southern Cheyenne mother and learned silversmith skills from her Navajo father “It’s a hobby for me, I spend mainly nights work on things and it helped me get pocket money when I attended the Institute of Art Institute of American Indian Arts.” She received an associate in 2D And. 3D arts while she was there.

Currently, she works as a Medical Procedural Coder. Her passions are to be creative and be able to create. But, she also loves music, singings and playing her guitar.

The growing trends of authentic Native American art and the many controversies of “fake” Indian art. Real Life Indian encourages you all to purchase from your local Native American vendor and businesses. Talk to them, shake their hands, and thank them for the work they do.

“The Story of Rebuilding a Foundation from Nothing”

Rebuilding a Trailer

Story from Shane Star

Edited and Photography by Viki Eagle

            Growing up, I always told myself I would go as far as I can in life to support my family. At the end of the school year, my mother and I were kicked out of my grandma’s house in Wolf Creek. I had lived there for the past 10 years. My grandmother felt I was a bad influence on my younger brothers when in reality all I wanted to do was protect them from negativity that lived in my household. I stood up to the injustice I saw and took action to protect them. Regardless of it all, she made the decision that I had to go. However, that meant to her I was not welcomed.

So we left and moved to Pine Ridge. That’s when I encountered the toughest challenges in my life such as avoiding all of the negativity that town has to offer. Pine Ridge had oppressing negativity such as alcoholism, high dropout rates, drugs, and just negativity from all the people on the reservation in general. It’s like they can’t handle seeing someone doing better than them. They always brought someone down and you needed to know people to get a good job anywhere.


Not only did I have to deal with all the negativity, I also had to live in a trailer that was in horrible shape and definitely not ready for the freezing northern winters. It was white tan color and in my eyes literally four walls put together

However, I thank God I wasn’t the only one living down there. My stepfather Jorma moved in with us when I got kicked out.

Together, Jorma and I fixed that trailer throughout the summer before the fast approaching winter. To describe the work we put into it was physical labor. Long days outside in the hot sun and while others enjoyed their time off we were working to survive.

We got the materials but the whole trailer had something wrong with it such as the lack of heat, flooring, structure and electricity. We always had to go get water from a valve outside in the back yard because the trailer did not have running water. We started to fix the vital things first, like all the ways the potential -30 degree wind chills could cut through the crack of walls during the winter.

The entire front yard was practically a jungle of plants surrounding the trailer. We chopped the plants down with one manual weed whacker. Jorma and I took turns giving as much force as we can swinging at these plants and switching off to catch our breath. We put up siding up to prevent most of the cold air from coming in the bottom. To survive the winter we put a wood stove in the living room for the source of heat.

I learned so much about life in general like how important school is and if you wanted to make it in this world, you had to work for it. Jorma always lectured me throughout the whole period we lived there because he wanted the best out of me. He taught me what he learned throughout his life. His stories meant so much to me and stuck with me in those times. All this really made me a better person in the end and now I’m thankful for my struggle because it taught me so much. It really helped me through many aspects of life. It was the tough way to learn but it definitely made me who I am.

I ended up moving out of that trailer at the beginning of 2012, outside of Pine Ridge. The trailer isn’t there any more. There is no evidence it is even there or ever existing. When I moved out I felt really sad and happy at the same time. I had so many memories in that trailer but I knew I was going to live in a better place to live so I looked ahead instead.

Shane Star is a current first year at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology studying Civil Engineering and fellow recipient of Gates Millennial Scholarship 2013. Look forward to more stories from Shane Star on his Gates experience coming up.