BHSU student to take part in Washington, D.C. political leadership program

Author: BHSU Communications/Saturday, October 25, 2014/Categories: 2014

Black Hills State University student Michaela Stroup, political science major from Pierre, was accepted into The George Washington University's Semester in Washington Politics (SIWP), as a participant in the Native American Political Leadership Program (NAPLP). Stroup will spend the spring 2015 semester in Washington, D.C. where she will attend classes and complete an internship.

Black Hills State University student Michaela Stroup is fueling her passion for politics and knack for leadership into a prestigious political program in the nation's capital.

Stroup, a political science major from Pierre, was accepted to attend The George Washington University's Semester in Washington Politics (SIWP), as a participant in the Native American Political Leadership Program (NAPLP) for the spring semester.

Although Stroup is studying political science at BHSU, she grew up with a strong dislike of politics.

"I believed politics were a man's attempt to control what he can't control," she said. "It wasn't until I visited Washington, D.C. as a junior in high school that I discovered a love for politics."

During her trip to Washington, D.C., Stroup encountered protesters outside the White House. Their passion and dedication is something Stroup saw in herself.

"My whole life I've been a passionate person. I realized the only real way to make a difference is through policy," Stroup said. "It just clicked. I found it fascinating to talk with these protesters and see them so passionate about something they'd be willing to stand up for it like that."

When Stroup returns from Washington she hopes to bring with her a more concrete idea of what she wants to do upon graduating from BHSU, as well as apply what she's learned to Student Senate and other University organizations.

The NAPLP is a full scholarship program for Native American, Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian students who want to take part in Washington Politics for a semester. Stroup, who is a member of the Lower Brule Sioux tribe, was chosen for her academic abilities, leadership potential and passion for politics.

"Michaela is a bright, industrious, and articulate student," said Dr. Ahrar Ahmad, professor of political science at BHSU. "She demonstrates a high degree of sensitivity in terms of her social and academic commitments, is passionate about politics, deeply aware of the challenges that Native American people face, and is eager to be engaged in the process that may lead to equity and justice not only for her people, but for America as a whole."

Stroup will attend classes at George Washington University and complete an internship program. The program covers the full cost of tuition up to nine credit hours, university housing and transportation to and from Washington, D.C., and provides a stipend to cover general living expenses during the semester.

"Michaela will benefit greatly from this program because it will give her the chance to take classes from, and be associated with, a very well respected program at GWU, allow her to intern with relevant individuals and entities that will give her experience and confidence, and provide her with relevant knowledge to help her be a more effective spokesperson for the issues and concerns that are important to her," Ahmad said.

Stroup currently is working with an internship coordinator to find an opportunity that best benefits her professional aspirations. Stroup said she would like to work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs or a political advocacy group in Washington, D.C.

Stroup is actively involved on the BHSU campus. She has been part of the Gay Straight Alliance, Student Senate, and debate team. This past summer Stroup interned with the South Dakota Democratic Party and went door to door advocating for the raise in minimum wage.

"When I joined the debate team at BHSU, that's what really pushed me the most," Stroup said. "I learned how to express my views in a way others can better understand."

Ahmad said Stroup's experience will provide as inspiration to other students and pave the way for future student leaders.

"She can, and will, be a role model for Native American students and for political science majors," Ahmad said. "This is a success story we can all be proud of."

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