Student Stories: "You're doing this for the people."

Student Stories: "You're doing this for the people."
Posted on 06/30/2019
This is the image for the news article titled Student Stories: "You're doing this for the people."In 2017, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member Hosteen Smith moved to Kansas to attend Cloud County Community College. He graduated on May 17, receiving his associate of science degree in athletic training and an associate of fine arts degree. Smith is the son of LaRue Renee Smith. His maternal grandparents are Delphina Fern Burton Seota and Larry Alvin Smith. His paternal grandparents are Raymond and Jenny Begay.

Smith chose Cloud County to continue his wrestling career.

“Wrestling. This was the main force behind me going to school,” Smith said. “I wanted to inspire the kids who were younger than me that they can do more than just be really good in high school and not to be afraid to take scholarships that they receive. If I could go to college at my age and embrace the grind, hopefully it would be a catalyst for more people going to college and they can have somebody to look up to.”

Smith faced a lot of obstacles being away from home. Missing out on birthdays and holidays was a big sacrifice, but it came with a stronger mentality.

“Going back to school and wrestling at the same time was probably the biggest obstacle of my college experience,” Smith said. “Not only did I have to adjust my physical health, but I also had to keep up with my school work and my study hours. I used the mentality [I had] when I was traditional dancing. They always told us that we were dancing for the people who can’t dance—the elders, the disabled and the young children. So, every time I felt like quitting, [I was] overwhelmed, or if I just wanted to go home because I missed everybody, I thought to myself, ‘You’re not just doing this for you; you’re doing this for the people.’”

He plans on coming home to continue school for athletic training. He is still deciding between Arizona State University or Arizona Christian University. Smith’s ultimate goal is to work for the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

His advice for those who want to pursue higher education?

“Don’t be afraid to take a chance,” Smith said. “It’s probably going to be hard and scary, but when you look back at it, it will be worth it.”

With such a big decision in his life, Smith had a lot of support from those who love him. He thanks all of them for their support for this step.

“I would like to thank my mom and dad, LaRue and Maynard Jackson; my sister Arial Smith; my best friends Luis Lopez-Rocha and Elaina Gutierrez A1 since day one; and my niece and nephews, Tristan, Cameron and Tiaré. Also the rest of my family: my aunts, uncles and cousins.

“My wrestling coach, Cody Cole, for giving me a shot and being my rock when things got tough; my athletic trainer, Steve Schroeder; my training partner, Benny Hernandez III, for being there when I needed him; my teammates for going through the struggle with me and picking each other up; and my friend the late Uuhik Carpenter, for always calling and telling me to stay strong. The tribe, for always having my back and supporting me; and Erica Outcalt for helping with everything for Higher Education.

“To everyone who gave me encouraging words—you may not have realized how meaningful something as simple as ‘good luck’ was, but it meant the world to me. Finally, to Andy Jay for making all this possible. I wanted to be as good as he was at wrestling since the first day we met when I was 13; [I wanted] to have people say, ‘Man, that guy is really good.’ He taught me to embrace the grind and to always scrap, and he made sure I was mentally and physically prepared for this journey. I couldn’t have done it without him.”

This article was written by Marissa Johnson and originally printed in the June 6, 2019, issue of O'odham Action News. It is republished here with permission.

The Salt River Higher Education Program is proud to help support students like Hosteen Smith reach their academic and professional dreams. For more information about financial aid, contact the Higher Education Program today at 480-362-2547 or email HigherEducation@saltriverschools.org.

Hosteen Smith
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