Report date
July 2022
Learning Log

This past two years have been an amazing leadership journey. I feel very blessed and thankful to have been selected as a Bush Fellow and to be apart of the Bush Fellow family. There has been a lot of ups and downs for me and lots of learning over the past two years for me. I have honestly grown so much as person and as a leader over this fellowship journey it has been phenomenal. One of the most important goals I had for myself this leadership journey was just to grown as person in general and become more comfortable being uncomfortable with the person I present as a leader and I feel like I have achieved that. The first goal I wanted to achieve during this journey was to develop the technical side of my leadership growth by completing the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam, preparing for the Professional Engineering Exam, and completing a Master's of a Science Degree in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics field at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology using the Bush Fellowship and Scholarships. One of the first things I learned during this leadership journey and wish I would have known when I started is how plans can change and certain circumstances can force you to change your plans. I was able to achieve to my Masters degree and I graduated in the Spring of 2022, which I am very proud of but it did not come with its own set of challenges that I had to overcome. There were times when I had bouts of lack of motivation and low productivity but I am very blessed that I have a great support system from my family and friends that would pick me up and encourage me and remind of how great of a student I can be. I was able to graduate with the support from my loved ones, but l was unable to complete my Fundamentals of Engineering exam due to certain circumstances. I will achieve that goal in the near future though. I was very fortunate that the degree program I chose of Engineering Management was basically a degree program in leadership. The aspect of being a manager goes hand and hand with leadership and I was able to learn and grow my technical knowledge of leadership through my coursework. My knowledge of the technical side of leadership has grown exponentially. The second goal I wanted to achieve during this journey was to maximize my leadership growth, potential, skills, and equity by making a conscious decision and show my desire by addressing my deficiencies in communication, listening, public speaking, and relationships by growing my vision, people skills, character, and results through a leadership development process and framework. One huge decision I made to achieving this goal was to applying and being accepted into the Leadership South Dakota program of 2021. One thing I wish would have known is just how much programs like these can grow your leadership and your network. I wish knew the impact that surrounding yourself amongst other leaders can help you to grow and improve on your own leadership qualities. If I knew this before I would have participated in more of these types of programs in the past, but now knowing what I know I will continue to attend these types of leadership programs. Leadership South Dakota was a very unique experience. It opened my eyes to how little I knew about leadership and about how to grow your network. The program definitely helped me to address my deficiencies as a leader and helped me to improve my equity not only in my community but through the entire state of South Dakota. I made life long friends and vastly grew my network. I am so very happy I was able to participate in Leadership South Dakota and will remember that experience forever and take the knowledge I learned with me as I move forward and continue this leadership path in the future. The third goal I wanted to achieve during this journey was to research, study, visit, and learn from Indigenous communities and people from around the world that have embraced and promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics awareness, education, community impact, and leadership as a catalyst to bring about healing, equity, and systematic change through programs, labs, projects, and institutes. I wish I would have known that we would be facing a pandemic and lockdowns during most of our leadership journey through our fellowship. The pandemic made achieving this goal fairly hard and I had to adjust the way I completed this goal. I did lots of research on successful communities using STEAM as a catalyst to create equity. I would have liked to visit these communities but the pandemic would not allow it. On the Brightside the pandemic forced me to be more creative and adjustable to various options on how to visit these communities usually through virtual means. I myself actually caught the Covid virus and had to be restrained to my home for over 21 days straight. I was however to attend virtual meetings, conferences, and panels to learn about these amazing communities and people. The most valuable thing I learned from all this research and virtual meetings was the fact that all these ideas, dreams, and visions came from one person and the desire to make it happen. Just like all the Bush Fellows that have the same types of dreams and visions it gave me confidence to realize that I can achieve my goals and that all it takes is one leader to push and drive their ideas forward and create the impact needed to make this world a better place through leadership, and also that STEAM and education can very well be that catalyst to make change and create equity. It motivated me to continue to grow my impact as a leader moving forward. The fourth goal I wanted to achieve during this journey was to become comfortable when uncomfortable, by promoting my personal health, mindfulness, cultural competency, relationships, and healing from lifelong trauma by becoming the best version of myself I can be in the Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, and Spiritual aspects of my life. I never fully understood before how much of an impact that self-care and mental health can impact not only your leadership growth but your overall life in general. I had quite a few battles I had to deal with during this leadership journey over the past few years whether it was dealing with a traumatizing personal life event, contracting the Covid virus, battling addiction and my demons, drops in morale, low mental and physical health, facing Imposter Syndrome, or even having to face legal issues I was able to complete my goals because of this Bush Fellowship. One of the best things about being a part of the Bush Fellowship family is the importance that is emphasized on self-care and mental health. Whether it was through seminars or talks with the Bush Foundation staff they always stressed the fact that the biggest part of the Bush Fellowship leadership journey is to implement great self-care practices and mental health activities and the importance it plays in not only your leadership growth but your growth as a person. This was the most surprising thing I learned throughout my leadership journey. The Bush Fellowship support allowed me to do just that. It allowed me to concentrate on my physical health by opening up more time for activities like golf, working out, camping, and time with my family. I was able to take time from my career to grow my Intellectual health through my Masters Degree coursework and teachings from seminars and virtual meetings. Emotionally I was able to have more time to talk to therapists and life coaches. I was also able to take time to address my Spirituality through prayer and meditation. I will forever be thankful to Bush Foundation and to the Bush Fellow family for stressing the importance of self-care and mental health and taking the appropriate time to take care of yourself. Also, to understand that self-care and mental health are an everyday battle and that everyone has set backs but it’s how you bounce back which defines one’s character and leadership. Over the past two years on my leadership journey, I really felt that I have grown not only as an equitable leader and the impact I have but as a person. I would just like to say Thank You to the Bush Foundation from the bottom of my heart and for selecting me to a part of the Bush Fellow family. Mitakuye Oyasin.