LCSC graduate earns nontraditional student award
Mary Oatman-Wak Wak, a 2006 graduate of Lewis-Clark State College, has been selected as the University Continuing Education Association West Region’s Outstanding Nontraditional Student and was honored during a luncheon Thursday in Palm Springs, Fla.
Oatman-Wak Wak is one of six finalists for the national award.
Oatman-Wak Wak served as student body vice president for a year at LCSC and also was active in other areas of student government. She graduated in May of 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Justice Studies and a Minor in Nez Perce Language. She regularly made the Dean’s List and President’s List. She was involved with both Ambassador Honor Society and Mock Trial at LCSC.
In June, she was appointed as Idaho’s first Indian Education Coordinator by Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna. Her role is to serve as a liaison between Indian tribes and the state, and Oatman-Wak Wak said in an interview with the Lewiston Tribune this summer that it is her mission to help close the achievement gap between tribal and non-tribal members.
Prior to enrolling at LCSC, Mary worked as a Conservation Enforcement Officer for the Nez Perce Tribe.
In nominating Oatman-Wak Wak for the award, Randy Harper, LCSC’s Director of Summer School and Special Programs, said Mary has been an inspiration to her family and friends.
“Mary Jane Oatman-Wak Wak is a truly unique individual, a role model, and an inspiration,” Harper wrote on the nomination form. “She has achieved against all odds and exceeded beyond all expectations. Along with the challenges of her new job, relocation of her family to Boise, the responsibilities that come with being a wife and mother, she is now just 12 credits away from a Masters Degree in Anthropology from the University of Idaho. Mary’s story is the kind of story that provides material for a great movie or hard-to-put-down novel – because her story is true – and, to all who know her, truly inspirational.”
This award is for the UCEA Region West which covers Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. The national winner will be selected at the UCEA national conference, which is March 26-28 in New Orleans.