The Motivated, the Dedicated: St. Joseph’s Alum Proves Hard Work Goes a Long Way

If you were to call someone on the phone, the most common response you’d expect to hear upon their answer is, “Hello, this is [insert name].”

But Jacob Lacota is not your typical 22-year-old. He answers the phone a bit differently …

“The motivated, the dedicated, the Corporal Lacota of the United States Marine Corps.”

Jacob is exactly that. This alum of St. Joseph’s Indian School is motivated. He’s dedicated. And it’s partially those traits that led to his desire of a life in the military after graduating from St. Joseph’s high school program.

“I saw the way my recruiter carried himself and his demeanor and I found it really inspiring,” he said. “I wanted to be a person like that, and I thought the way to do that was to become a Marine.”

It’s a decision Jacob is so glad he made. His military path has taken him to Okinawa, Hawaii and now to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. For him, it’s been an unbelievable journey filled with new adventures, people and culture — something new and exciting nearly every day.

“Every second, every moment — I’ve enjoyed it all,” said Jacob. “It’s been a great journey so far.”

Jacob credits St. Joseph’s for helping him along the way. He said St. Joseph’s staff and programs instilled in him a high level of maturity — a trait that has definitely helped him throughout his military experience. Some of his houseparents were also veterans who helped him by listening and encouraging him whenever he needed it.

“St. Joseph’s was a huge help to me and a lot of kids who have gone to school there,” said Jacob. “I’m so thankful for my time there.”

And, even though he graduated high school four years ago, he still feels St. Joseph’s presence.

Our Transition Specialist and other staff members periodically reach out to make sure Jacob has everything he needs to be successful and just to catch-up. He also receives care packages filled with goodies and well wishes to let him know St. Joseph’s is thinking about him and praying for him.

“It makes me feel good when I hear from St. Joseph’s. Every now and then I get a care package and those bring a bit of joy and happiness to me — I can always eat, right?” he said, laughing. “But on a more serious note, it reminds me of why I joined in the first place — to help those I care about and anyone else who needs it.”

Although this ever-changing world has brought with it some unease and uncertainty, Jacob said it hasn’t stopped his motivation and dedication. In his words: the mission comes first.

Although he can’t be completely sure what the future holds for him, Jacob currently wishes to re-enlist and become a drill instructor. We have no doubt he will reach that goal and any other goal he sets his mind to …

Because, like he says in his phone greeting, this motivated and dedicated corporal marine is not likely to let any obstacle stand in his way.

A special philámayaye thank you —  to all the service men and women as we celebrate Veterans Day on November 11. We appreciate your motivation and dedication to serving our country!

Thank You for Your Service!

Did you know there are many alumni and staff members who have served in the military and received honors for their accomplishments?

Allow us to introduce you to Martina, Zach and Irene in celebration of Veterans Day this month.

Pfc. Martina Hawk, alumna

Martina attended St. Joseph’s Indian School for 11 years and was very involved in the St. Joseph’s and Chamberlain High School communities before graduating and joining the armed forces.

During her service in the Army, Martina has won numerous awards. In 2017, she was awarded the Army Achievement Medal two times for her commitment to excellence. In fact, during PTA Range Density week, Pfc. Hawk qualified on multiple weapons and weapon systems, helping raise the company’s readiness numbers. She qualified Expert on her assigned weapon, M4, as well as Expert in the CROW mounted M240B. Because of her knowledge and consistently setting the example, she was able to teach and coach two other soldiers to qualify on the CROW mounted M240B. Pfc. Hawk’s motivation, willingness to learn and dedication to her team’s success bolstered the morale of soldiers around her.

Pfc. Zach Benson, St. Joseph’s staff member

St. Joseph’s lifts up Pfc. Zach Benson, the sole recipient of the Honor Award of Outstanding Leadership at the Foxtrot Company, 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment graduation in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., on April 9, 2020. This prestigious award exemplifies honor, initiative and loyalty. Benson was one of six individuals from his class of 215 who graduated with honors. He also received a Challenge Coin presented by his commanding officer to honor his service above and beyond the call of duty.

Benson has worked at St. Joseph’s Indian School for nearly three years and is a bindery operator in the Tipi Press print shop.

Pfc. Irene Grassrope, alumna

Irene attended St. Joseph’s for 12 years — from first grade through her senior year. She was awarded the Army Achievement Medal during her station in Korea.

The medal was awarded for, “Exemplary Service while serving in the largest multi-national exercise in the world, ULCHI FREEDOM GUARDIAN 2017.” The award stated, “Your commitment to excellence, hard work and continuous professional proficiency resulted in overall mission success. Your expertise and dedication to duty are in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon yourself, the 75th Training Command, and the United States Army.”

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 90 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

16 thoughts on “The Motivated, the Dedicated: St. Joseph’s Alum Proves Hard Work Goes a Long Way”

  1. St. Joseph’s Indian School has apparently done a wonderful job training its students to become whatever they want to be. What are some other professions they have aspired to and are now involved in?

    Mary Halley

    1. We currently have alumni pursuing nursing, welding, journalism and several other fields. It’s a joy to watch each student choose their own path and we are happy to support them along the way thanks to giving people from around the country and world.

  2. It just shows how dedication and perseverance pays off. So proud of you and your achievements. Congratulations! The sky is the limit.

  3. Thank you all for your service! God bless you for servicing our country. I am particularly impressed and thankful for this young man, Jacob Lacota. When I read how he answers his phone, it rang powerfully to me. Being in Customer Service for over 15 years, I have never heard such an impressive way to answer the phone. I am truly convinced this young man can do anything he sets his mind out to do. He has an incredible attitude and that will take him anywhere and everywhere he chooses. Thanks to St Joseph’s for guiding and believing in him and others as they attend this wonderful school.

  4. While i was very imprssed with Kaiden’s letter last month and your many gifts, I asked about your not being on Charity Navigator. I also wonder now if in reading about “religious” education you neglect to teach the children Biblical principles, like having a born again relationship with Jesus Christ. i’ve been born again for over 40 yrs. now and know that it is the most imp. decision a person can make and teaching them from the Bible about God’s plan for them to me is vital. Therefore, b/f i proceed any further with a donation can you please enlighten me re your inclusion of the Bible into their studies and their study of same how it is applied to their lives. also what financial rating you get from the EFCA-Evangelical Financial Accountability organization if you don’t register with Charity Navigator. In the meantime, pls adv. Kaiden of his newsy letter and his interests in sports should i decide to end further correspondence. Thank you very muc and God’s blessings on your ministry pat dipalma

    1. To get a scoring on Charity Navigator, you have to file an I990. We are a religious organization and do not file this, and therefore do not receive a score on that rating website. We are continually rated a Top-Rated Charity by GreatNonprofits, if you are interested in looking there for more information. You can also view any of our financial and impact reports at

      Our mission is under Catholic auspices and serves children of all religions. The root and foundation of our religious teaching is based on the teachings of the Church. However, students also learn Native American traditions and how they closely correspond to the message of Christ’s Gospel. Students take both a Religion class and a Native American Studies class, and attend Mass in-person or virtually every Sunday.

    2. Pat, It is so like Christians to demand others follow their path or they can starve. It that God’s wish?Please understand the Lakota’s have their own way. As I do. It is just as great as yours. Be a great person and support others with your gift without conditions. It is a gift. Once it is given the giver should accept the Recipients wishes. God is in everyone. We are all one. So sad you force your beliefs on others in return for money.

  5. My mother was in the service,the United States Marine Corps way before I was born,and my stepdad was in the Army. I’m very proud of both of my parents. I would like to say thank you for your service to all the men’s and women’s. Deborah

  6. Good morning. I thank all of your students who went on with their service in the military. My husband went into the Submarine service way back in 1961. His sub patrolled the North Atlantic Ocean for Russian submarines during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was a scary time for me until he returned home safely. I really learned to trust our Lord during that time. Both of our sons went into the Army and the oldest is just now retiring and the youngest will be retiring with 30 years service soon.I pray for all of our soldiers and sailors. I also thank St. Joseph’s School for the training and guidance and love you receive there. I love getting the newsletters we receive and put your pictures on the door of my refrigerator. Vermont is far away and we will probably never get to meet any of you here but look forward to seeing you in Heaven. I will be mailing our Christmas donation soon. I hope your wishes come true! Sincerely, Mrs Kitchin

  7. Thank you for sharing such wonderful Messages . God bless each and everyone of you .
    Gott beschuetze Euch alle .

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