After graduating high school, Rebecca McCradie was unsure about her future. Determined to find her path, she joined the U.S. Army Reserves serving as a medical specialist for three years.
Then, life happened.
But at age 50, the Mahnomen, Minn., native decided it was time to go to college. She chose MSUM because of the proximity to her hometown and the university’s reputation for having a welcoming environment. As both a first-generation and older-than-average student, she was nervous that it might be hard to find her footing. However, holding true to its reputation, MSUM welcomed her with open arms.
“I felt like I could engage and connect with my classmates and professors, despite my age,” she says.
When taking religious and cultural classes, her heritage as a member of the White Earth Reservation served as an educational tool for her peers and professors, both of whom valued and appreciated her experiences. They were also eager to hear her stories and expertise in class discussions.
She graduated in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in social work.
When it comes to finding a way to utilize her degree, Rebecca wants to work in a field close to her heart: substance abuse and addiction counseling. Faced with her own journey with substance abuse, Rebecca knows the struggle and hardships people experience when dealing with addiction. She wants to help others regain their power and find recovery. Yet, she continues to look for a position with the right fit with an organization that embodies her values and morals.
An honor to guard
In the meantime, she spends much of her time volunteering with the White Earth Veterans Honor Guard and participating in powwows, graduations, and military or sporting events. She is also involved with the Wild Rice Round-Up, AA, and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women organization. She is also taking additional classes through White Earth.
One of her roles within the honor guard includes participating in funeral honors for fallen soldiers. It’s her way of giving back to those who have given her so much. Powwows are particularly meaningful because of their connection with her heritage. They are deeply religious events that connect members of her community in one place.
Powwows include many components like carrying the staff and flags, presenting the colors, and the dancers. During the event, people constantly sing and pray for the sick and injured. Rebecca feels like this is yet another time to honor those who have lost their lives in war. Both the honor guard and powwows are constant reminders of her gratitude for the life she lives.
She will be carrying the staff at this year’s Woodlands and High Plains Powwow on Saturday, April 15 in MSUM’s Nemzek Fieldhouse.
March marked Rebecca’s 10 years of sobriety, no small feat and one she is immensely proud of.
“I’m happy to be a role model to others, especially my grandchildren, Jordan and Azalia They never had to see me smoke or drink,” she says.
It’s never too late to rewrite your story and try new things. Rebecca proves that showing up for yourself matters and keeping your promises can lead to new and honorable experiences.
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