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Expanding Opportunity for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe: An Interview with RoseMary Clairmont, Online EdD Student

Portrait of RoseMary Clairmont

RoseMary Clairmont

RoseMary Clairmont is an educational specialist in the Education Department of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. Her professional responsibilities are wide-ranging and include working with school leadership to enhance student retention and academic performance, collaborating with experts and researchers on implementing culturally-based curriculum, and tutoring students at the Sicangu Owayawa Otipi school. RoseMary has two masters’ degrees: one from Pennsylvania State University's American Indian Leadership Program and another from Arizona State University's Curriculum and Instruction Program. 

RoseMary describes herself as an "educational advocate who loves to teach." (She is also the foster mother of two girls and the pack leader of four dogs.) We spoke to her about NYU Steinhardt’s EdD in Leadership and Innovation

When I was young, my grandfather told me it was important to go to school, 'to learn the white man's ways,' to help our people."

Why did you decide to pursue the online EdD in Leadership and Innovation?

It’s an online program:  I felt moving away for school would upend my family life. 

It’s about cross-sector learning:  I love that I get to learn from others in other fields and industries. I believe this will impact my work in education and my broader interests.

It’s a 2-year program: I didn’t want to spend a lot of time in graduate school. I was afraid if I didn't have a deadline, I would spend a lot of time researching on my own and wouldn’t finish.

It’s flexible: The degree doesn’t lock me into working in one field. It will allow me to venture into other spaces to continue to work.

It’s the future: This program is what’s on the horizon! This program is working to change the higher education landscape.

As a native, indigenous woman with a doctoral degree, I will be an important role model for my people."

Why is this degree important to you?

In American Indian education, there is work being done to change what school looks like for our Indigenous students. We are working to improve the educational opportunities, resources, and the longevity of our unique tribal identity.

In the Ed.D. program, I will be researching tribal sovereignty (the inherent right for tribes to govern themselves), as it relates to education. This work requires an understanding of the relationship between tribal, federal, and state governments, and the impact these institutions have on the quality of education that native/indigenous students experience on a daily basis. The education that Indian children receive on Indian lands can influence a student's self-identity, their plan for life after high school, and their role in their family, tribe, and community.

When I was young, my grandfather told me it was important to go to school, “to learn the white man's ways," to help our people. That family value coupled with my experience as a student gave me the drive to advocate for changes that would give our students a different experience in schools that historically have sought to alter our unique identities and ways of living. 

As a native, indigenous woman with a doctoral degree, I will be an important role model for my people. In the world outside of our community, having a degree or advanced degree gives you a seat at the table and allows your voice to be heard and your ideas to take root. 

Portrait of RoseMary Clairmont and two daughters.

RoseMary Clairmont and her daughters in Monument Valley, Utah.

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