Sage Cites Family as Recipe for Success

Feb 15th, 2003 | By | Category: 14-3: Your Heroes Are Not Our Heroes, Tribal College News

Intern Jasper Sage (second from left) stands with (left to right): Estevan Ramirez of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, Melinda Collier of USDA, and Katy Poth, another USDA summer intern.

Jasper Sage, a senior student from Haskell Indian Nations University, spoke on a panel last August with Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman about his internship with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The audience included nearly 9,500 USDA interns, either present in the USDA Jefferson Auditorium or connected via satellite from around the country.

Sage spoke passionately about how both his uncle and his father, a Navajo code-talker, encouraged him to seek higher education. A Navajo from Farmington, NM, Sage has interned with USDA for two summers through the Washington Internship for Native Students (WINS) program. Two years ago, Sage worked with the Natural Resource Conservation Service, and last summer he interned with the Farm Service Agency.

In his speech, Sage gave credit to his uncle for helping him understand the value of agriculture. “My Uncle Billy always talked about how corn — how agriculture — is part of our every-day Native American culture, our inner culture and values. He used to talk about corn because we use corn …for our ceremonial prayers… ‘You need to take care of your crops,’ he would say. ‘Give them water, like the way your mother nourished you when you were small. Raise them up just like your own child. Make them feel good. Talk to them. Make them feel comfortable.’ And that’s the way he used to tell us,” said Sage.

Sage’s father was also supportive of his educational goals. “He’d say, ‘You know what, if you really want to go places, stay in school. That’s the only way you can go somewhere. …You’re not doing that for us or for your mother. What you’re doing is for your kids and for tomorrow’s generation because you’re the one that’s shaping this world for the next generation. Whatever you do here is going to affect the next generation.’”

Clearly, having two family members who support and encourage him is crucial to Sage’s success in college. He summed it up simply by saying, “That’s what made me keep in school. ” He will graduate from Haskell (Lawrence, KS) with a bachelor’s degree in business management.

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