When LaToya Crazy Bull thinks about her future, it’s not necessarily a scene of events that come to her mind — rather, it’s the faces of those she loves most.
At 29-years-old, she cares for her own two-year-old son and her seven-year-old brother. Her teenage little sister also joins her home from time to time.
LaToya’s dream is to give them the stable environment they need for a brighter future. And she’s well on her way …
But her road has not been easy. It’s been filled with twists, turns and setbacks … but also comebacks.
After graduating from high school in 2010, LaToya, who went to school at St. Joseph’s Indian School from first grade through 11th grade, made her way to college. She felt ready. St. Joseph’s had provided her a quality education, money management skills, personal living skills like cooking and cleaning, and other abilities she needed to be successful.
“St. Joe’s taught me a lot. It was a safe haven based on my situation at the time,” she said.
But when she moved far away from home to go to college in North Dakota, it wasn’t what she expected. After a year, she transferred to Lower Brule Community College in South Dakota. Following another year of schooling there, something still didn’t feel quite right. The school didn’t have the Early Childhood Education or Human Services classes she desired.
But third times a charm.
She transferred once more to Sinte Gleska University (SGU) in Mission, S.D. SGU had the specialty classes she wanted — the classes she needed. Within the Human Services course load, she started taking more and more criminal justice classes. A fire was ignited inside of her to help others and to make a career out of it.
As she completed her degree, she ran the Rosebud Indian Reservation homeless shelter for two years. After that, she moved on to interning for the United States Federal Probation Office.
All was well. Everything was falling into place and she just had a year of schooling to go …
Then March 2020 rolled around … and with it, COVID-19. Her internship was unfortunately cut due to decisions surrounding the pandemic.
Where others might see this challenge as an excuse to give up, LaToya kept moving forward. She got a new job with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe COVID Taskforce. She kept up her schooling. She kept caring for her family.
She kept going … because the vision of those little faces she knew were watching her.
“I really liked my internship and it was hard when it was cut,” said LaToya. “But I had kids to take care of. I couldn’t just stop.”
After more hard work, LaToya finished her degree and has now graduated with a degree in Human Services, with an emphasis in Criminal Justice. She did it!
“We didn’t have a graduation ceremony because of COVID, and I’m waiting on my degree to come in the mail, so it’s weird for me to say I’ve graduated without holding it in my hands, you know?” she said. “I want to hold it and it’ll all feel real. It’ll feel like, ‘Hey, I really did that.’”
LaToya credits the help of those closest to her throughout the journey — including St. Joseph’s. She received college scholarships from St. Joseph’s to help her with expenses during her time at school. Staff members also routinely checked in to make sure LaToya had the support she needed to keep moving toward her dream …
A dream that’s no longer a dream. It’s reality.
LaToya’s story, like so many others, is a tale of persistence and perseverance. St. Joseph’s Indian School is so proud to have an example of an alum who didn’t give-up, no matter how many roadblocks came her way.