College Fund Honors BMCC President and Students

Mar 23rd, 2015 | By | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive
By Dina Horwedel

Bay Mills Community College President Michael “Mickey” Parish

The American Indian College Fund honored its scholarship recipients at the American Indian Higher Education Consortium Student Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Sponsored by the Adolph Coors Foundation, each honoree received a $1,000 scholarship. The College Fund also honored Michael “Mickey” Parish, president and CEO of Bay Mills Community College (BMCC), with its prestigious Tribal College Leader award. Parish has been the president of the institution for 13 years.

Parish is a home-grown leader. Tribal members saw his potential and asked him to consider attending law school after he completed a bachelor’s degree. With the added encouragement from his wife, he enrolled and later became an attorney, working in areas such as child welfare, land claims, and prosecution. Parish went on to serve in tribal government for many years as a member of his tribe’s executive council. From there he made the leap into higher education.

Parish’s goal is to ensure the tribal college benefits tribal members. He says he takes pride in seeing how well BMCC students do when they transfer to other institutions, including his granddaughter, who was named the tribal college’s Student of the Year in 2014 and now attends Lake Superior State College, where she maintains a 4.0 grade point average. They use the school as a springboard for future success.

“Many of our students are non-traditional in that they are older, with families, and they work while they go to school part-time, so they do not always finish in two to three years. But when they finish they are proud and we are just as proud of them. That makes it all worth it.”

Thanks to Parish, Bay Mills Community College is also a leader in Michigan education. BMCC is the only tribal college authorized by state law to charter public school academies. Presently, the institution has 42 chartered academies serving over 22,000 students throughout the State of Michigan. As part of this work, Parish says student retention is a necessary focus. “We’ve seen a lot of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students dropping out of school. We try to identify programs and activities to retain these students. Although there is no magic bullet, smaller classrooms, closer teacher interactions, and making the schools a safe environment keeps them in school,” he says. Poverty is a major contributor to students dropping out, and Parish says the government does not always look at the conditions that students are living in. Often children in a family do not have money for school supplies or clothing, making consistent attendance difficult for them and leading to them falling behind.

The 2014-2015 Adolph Coors Foundation Students of the Year are:

Charmayne Healy             Aaniiih Nakoda College
Audie Petrosky Jr.            Bay Mills Community College
Burton Butterfly               Blackfeet Community College
Marshall Longie Jr.           Cankdeska Cikana Community College
Danielle Freemont             Chief Dull Knife College
Elizabeth Rice                  College of Menominee Nation
Carmon Rudd                   College of the Muscogee Nation
Dallas Peterman                Diné College
Alisha Smith                     Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College
Connie Greene                  Fort Berthold Community College
Carolyn Bigby                   Fort Peck Community College
Beverly Foley                    Haskell Indian Nations University
Matthew Murray               Ilisagvik College
Terran Kipp                       Institute of American Indian Arts
Heather Maki                    Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College
Jodee LaFave                    Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College
Audrianna Goodwin         Leech Lake Tribal College
Shereena Old Elk              Little Big Horn College
Wayne Vandall                 Little Priest Tribal College
Myrna Mitchell                 Navajo Technical University
Sarah Zavala                     Nebraska Indian Community College
Sean Lawrence                  Northwest Indian College
Lacey Thompson               Oglala Lakota College
Anthony Quiroga              Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College
Stormie Perdash                Salish Kootenai College
Roger Ellert Jr.                  Sinte Gleska University
Melanie Seaboy                 Sisseton Wahpeton College
Jody Wingate                    Sitting Bull College
JoVonna Rosetta               Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute
Ina Fox                              Stone Child College
Ervin Francisco                 Tohono O’odham Community College
Cole Frederick                  Turtle Mountain Community College
Logan Maxon                    United Tribes Technical College
Isabella Griffin                  White Earth Tribal and Community College

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