Finding your own path

Preston Crow Chief did not take a typical path to university, finding his own route to success. The opportunity to join him at the U of L for the Fall Semester still exists as the application deadline has been extended to July 29. Apply by following this link.

Preston Crow Chief moves throughout the University of Lethbridge with a sense of purpose. The young Blackfoot man with an easy smile has good reason to walk with confidence; he carries with him wisdom and experiences earned only by a special few.

Known as Pookaanikapi (young man) in his native Blackfoot, Crow Chief is currently enrolled in the pre-Management program and hopes to become an accountant. He has worked hard to set himself on the path to success in a career and in life.

Preston Crow Chief was deployed to Afghanistan for a tour of duty before resuming his academic career at the U of L.

While in high school, Crow Chief enrolled in "Bold Eagle," an Aboriginal youth development program that combines military training with First Nations culture and customs, and gives participants the option of enlisting in the military after they graduate. He eventually joined the 18th Air Defense Regiment, a reserve unit in Lethbridge.

Crow Chief later began studies at the U of L in the First Nations Transition Program (FNTP), which helps students hone their writing and study skills and prepares them for the demands of university. He says the program helped him make the decision to pursue a management degree, and showed him the level of commitment required to be successful.

"I understand that I can't just get by anymore from what I remember. Now I have to read the chapter and go to the class."

After completing his first year on campus, Crow Chief accepted an opportunity with the reserve unit and deployed to Afghanistan. He was stationed in Kandahar province in the south, amid rugged terrain and an unforgiving climate.

"When I left, it was 56 degrees… I'd be standing in the shade and I'd still be sweating."

Aside from overcoming the physical challenges of the country, Crow Chief had to summon courage and composure in executing his daily tasks. His primary responsibility was patrolling the roadways to ensure safe passage for military personnel, searching the area for explosive devices.

"When I first did it, I noticed I was really nervous. Then you get so used to it, you just get worked into the routine - you just do it."

Despite the sober nature of his assignment, Crow Chief did have some enjoyable moments, including meeting local Afghans and learning about their culture and religion. He returned from his deployment with greater tolerance, maturity and self-discipline and says he has also become more goal-oriented and businesslike.

"I guess I've changed – I'm more assertive now. I don't want to be a 'yes-man' now that I've been through this."

Crow Chief had the opportunity to address students at Taatsikiisaop'p ("Little Plume") Middle School on the Blood Reserve for Remembrance Day, and believes, with his increased leadership skills, he could be a role model to others both in his community and in business. For those leaving a close community like a reserve to come to university, he has this to say:

"Get used to making new friends. Even now I have army friends, friends from school, friends from home. If you feel like a rebel among your (existing) friends when you get to university, that's OK."

This story first appeared in Management Matters. To view Management Matters in a flipbook format, follow this link.