SPEARFISH, S.D. (BHSU) — After four years of dormancy, Black Hills State University has reactivated their chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES).
The newly activated chapter is led by its president, Kevin Ellis. Ellis is a SD BRIN student who graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Oglala Lakota College in 2006. He is now attending BHSU and plans to graduate with a second bachelor’s degree in biology. Ellis and fellow science-minded students were approached by the assistant director of the Native Studies program and current AISES advisor, Joe Rainboth, to reactivate the AISES chapter. Ellis said that AISES hopes to raise awareness of American Indians in the science fields.
The goal of AISES is to support students academically, culturally, and socially by providing guidance, leadership opportunities, involvement in community, and assistance in demonstrating upstanding scholastic and character values to other students. According to Ellis, the BHSU AISES chapter is already working to achieve those goals. They are kicking off the reactivation of the chapter with a star quilt raffle. They also plan on helping sponsor the 29th annual powwow with Lakota Omniciye (Native American student organization) and have reached out to the AISES chapters at Oglala Lakota College and South Dakota School of Mines & Technology.
“AISES hopes to raise awareness in the community,” Ellis said. “We also want to let other Native American students in science fields know that they are not alone and that is okay to be strong in your culture and be a science nerd.”
According to their Website (www.aises.org), AISES is the only professional society established by and for American Indian and Alaska Natives that specifically emphasizes lifelong learning and educational achievement by utilizing cultural aspects with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. The mission of AISES is to substantially increase the representation of American Indians and Alaskan Natives in engineering, science, and other related technology disciplines. Since its inception in 1977, AISES now has 177 chartered college and university chapters throughout the United States and Canada, 13 professional chapters, 150 affiliated schools that enroll more than 45000 K-12 Native American students, and nearly 3000 members. These chapters provide professional and social peer support, and serve as liaisons between the AISES national office and individual students.