First-born of eight children. First female Nebraska state wrestling champion. First-generation college student.
The Winnebago Tribal member may not have started with a clear path to success, but she always knew the stakes were high.
“Everything I do is for my siblings,” Zeriah said. “I just wanted to show them that you can come from not much and build from it.”
Zeriah recently wrapped up her freshman year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), having received several scholarships. One of which was a $5,000 grant funded through Ho-Chunk, Inc.
Ho-Chunk, Inc. established a fund with UNL in 2020 to provide scholarships to enrolled members of the Winnebago Tribe, committing $25,000 in scholarships total. Zeriah was the first recipient of the program.
“Receiving this scholarship was just so heartwarming,” Zeriah said. “I didn’t expect to get this scholarship, but at the end of the day, I know that I deserved it because I worked so hard for myself. It greatly impacted my year, and it also goes to show how fortunate I am as an individual that I have these resources and Ho-Chunk, Inc. and my community behind me.”
Zeriah started her freshman year studying pre-health, but like many college freshmen, she made a change and chose a different path – criminal justice. With that, she hopes to make a difference in the Winnebago community.
“I want to further my education within the criminal justice field because my people suffer from a lot of injustices from the federal system,” she said. “Then I would like to eventually come back to Winnebago to help my people and be their voice against those injustices.”
“Also, I’d like to be involved with the Winnebago Public Schools to help break the generational cycles of alcohol abuse within the reservation,” she continued. “I really want better for our people.”
Inspired by this goal for her community and her siblings, Zeriah has forged ahead on her path as a first-generation college student.
“Making the transition from high school to a Big Ten University was very difficult, but despite the challenges I never gave up on myself,” she said. “Coming into next year, I know what to expect and I feel prepared and excited to be taking criminology classes.”
“Just like Chief Little Priest said, ‘Be strong and educate my children,’” she added. “That was way before his time, and that’s such a great way to put it.”