Shana Harming has been named as South Dakota State University’s Wokini Initiative program director. Her appointment is pending approval by the South Dakota Board of Regents.
Wokini, which means “new beginning” in Lakota, is an initiative which will offer programming and support to enrolled members of the nine tribal nations in South Dakota interested in gaining access to educational and advancement opportunities at SDSU. The initiative will also enhance research and outreach collaboration and programs with tribes, tribal colleges and other tribal organizations in the state.
“Having an opportunity to collaborate with South Dakota’s tribal communities and tribal colleges, at my alma mater, makes this my dream job,” said Harming, who is an enrolled member of the Kul Wicasa Oyate or Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, and served as a research coordinator for South Dakota State’s College of Nursing before being named director. “I have worked with students and families in Indian Country in various capacities throughout my career and this position brings those experiences together.”
“If someone wants to go to college, we need to work together to get them here,” she continued. “We need to remove the barriers for Native American students to enter and find success in higher education. I look forward to collaborating with key stakeholders to determine how we can serve the students better, help them be successful and support them.”
As a research coordinator, Harming has recently helped lead efforts in developing educational materials for Native Americans about living kidney donation and transplants. She has dedicated her career to working with Native families and communities to help close disparity gaps in both health and education. Prior to coming to SDSU, Harming was the director of the high school residential program at St. Joseph’s Indian School, a child welfare specialist for the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, and taught in the McLaughlin school district on the Standing Rock reservation and at the Flandreau public school district.
“As the state’s 1862 land-grant university, the Wokini Initiative is critical to supporting the mission of access to higher education and developing and training a workforce that can positively impact the state and the region,” said Barry Dunn, president of South Dakota State University. “Shana’s experience will be valuable in helping bridge the gap that has existed in South Dakota in terms of providing resources and access to the educational benefits provided at SDSU for the American Indian students in our state.”
The Wokini director position will have a dual reporting line to the Office of the Provost and Vice President of Student Affairs.
“Shana’s experience in education and working with tribal communities and schools brought her to the top of the candidate pool,” Michaela Willis, SDSU’s vice president of student affairs. “There is great momentum behind the Wokini Initiative as evident with the generous gift for the American Indian Student Center. Shana will continue that momentum by reaching out to communities and establishing relationships.”
Harming, a 1995 SDSU graduate, is on track to earn her master’s degree in counseling and human development in May. Harming and her husband, Mark, reside in Elkton and have four children.
About the Wokini Initiative
The Wokini Initiative will offer programming and support to enrolled members of the nine tribal nations in South Dakota interested in gaining access to educational and advancement opportunities at South Dakota State University. The initiative will also enhance research and outreach collaborations and programs with tribes, tribal colleges and other tribal organizations in the state. The initiative will align student opportunities to pursue degrees that will impact communities and their tribes while recognizing the importance of family and native culture.
Students will be given the resources and access to academic, personal, health and financial wellness knowledge needed to succeed at South Dakota State University and in life after graduation.