Student President Committed to Understanding, Honesty

Volume 21, No. 2 - Winter 2009
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ALISON PAIGE STEINMEYER

PRESIDENT TO PRESIDENT. Salish Kootenai College President Joe McDonald congratulates Allison Paige Steinmeyer on being elected president of the AIHEC Student Congress.

I am an enrolled member of the Comanche Tribe and a descendant of the last leader of the Quahada Band. Currently, I attend Comanche Nation College in Lawton, OK, where I am a junior-level student majoring in both biology and chemistry with a minor in non-romance languages. This basically means I might be a student forever!

Right now, I attend school full-time and also work ful-ltime. I have four children, including two stepchildren (Zaine, 15 and Zach, 11) and two with my husband, Kelly Steinmeyer (Angelina 6, and Killian, 2). Luckily, I have a really supportive family, and we take turns with the children. My mother also spends a lot of time with her grandbabies; we are very traditional that way.

From 2007-2008, I served as Ms. Comanche Nation College, a wonderful opportunity that opened my eyes to the important differences between tribal colleges and community or state colleges. Toward the end of my term, my advisor told me about the Ms. American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) competition. I felt really good about interviewing for a title that was based solely on academic achievement, personal interaction, and community service, so I decided to run.

All of my hard work in school paid off, and I won the Ms. AIHEC title for 2008-2009. Spending that year representing all of our beautiful tribal colleges was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I was able to see places that I might never have had the opportunity to visit without AIHEC.

While I had realized there were differences between Comanche Nation College and other tribal colleges, it’s different being able to see how unique and beautiful each college really is. Believing that when one door closes, another door opens, I finished my term as Ms. AIHEC hoping to continue being involved in Native American higher education. After a lot of thought, I decided that the best way I could do that was to run for the AIHEC Student Congress (ASC).

I initially talked to Ms. Cindy Dodd (the AIHEC Student Congress advisor from Northwest Indian College) about running for any office. She ended up convincing me to run for president.

I will be honest and say that I wasn’t sure I could win, let alone do the job properly, giving the position the attention it deserves. But as I thought more about running, I realized that this was what I had been hoping to do: As president of ASC, I would be able to represent all of the students in an honorable way. This was my opening door.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love making people laugh and that I have no problem talking to people. In fact, I have the habit of making people talk to me; I kind of drag them into a conversation. I love the gift I have been given of helping people express what they believe in and what they are passionate about in a humorous way.

But I was extremely nervous during the election. Giving speeches is a totally different story from just naturally talking with people I know. It is hard for me to relax while giving a speech, but I believe that making friends with so many people at the AIHEC Conference and seeing so many friendly faces in the audience really helped me focus. I felt like I was just talking to my family about my views and plans for the future of AIHEC Student Congress.

In the end, I believe that my convictions, understanding, and honesty toward my fellow students helped me win presidency of the student congress. I am excited to work with the rest of the crew elected. Everyone is extremely cool and very easy to get along with. I am positive we will have a great year, but as Jessie MacDonald (former vice president) said, we all have extremely big shoes to fill. Last year’s officers were great; they were all willing to help out and talk to students about what they did.

No matter what, we will all do our best and I’m really excited about what the next year has in store for all of us: the friends we will make and the different ways our lives will unfold and develop. I hope that I make all of our Native people proud, and I appreciate all of the love and support everyone has shown me so far.

I really enjoy talking about the things that I feel passionate about, such as the importance of all of our Native languages, making sure our tribal colleges recognize and embrace the many different cultures being represented at our conferences, and my hope that by our next conference, we will have standardized copies of all of the student competition rules at the AIHEC Conference.

As for my personal goals, I am 28 years old, and although they seem to change every day, I would like to pursue research. I have spent a lot of time doing diabetes research. Most of all, I want to do something that will earn the respect and pride of my children and grandchildren. I don’t want them saying, “She did all these things, but she did nothing meaningful in the end.”


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