In honor of Native American Heritage Month, WGU is amplifying the unique voices and stories of our Native American students and alumni. Renee Crooked Arm is one of them.
Renee is a member of the Crow Tribe of Montana as well as a descendant of the Eastern Shoshone and Chippewa Cree tribes of Wyoming and Montana.
“Being Native American, education has always been held in high regard,” she says. This cultural emphasis on education is one reason Renee decided to become a teacher.
“Chief Washakie of Eastern Shoshone tribe once said, ‘I fought to keep our land, our water, and our hunting grounds. Today, education is the weapon my people need to protect them.’ That quote has stuck with me since my early years in education,” says Renee.
Renee earned her B.S. in Elementary Education from Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. After spending her first year as a teacher in Arizona, she moved back to her hometown in Wyoming where she landed her dream teaching job at her former elementary school. She had accomplished a lifelong goal, but there was still one more thing left to do—earn her master’s degree.
That’s when she found WGU.
“WGU’s flexible program allowed me to pursue my graduate degree while still maintaining my full-time teaching job. Working full-time and working towards my graduate degree was a stressful but rewarding process,” she says.
In 2019, Renee received her Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction. She says furthering her education wasn’t just for her benefit, but for her students.
“It’s my belief that Native American children need Native American teachers. It’s important they see someone like them in their schools. That’s why I decided to become a teacher and then later better my teaching skills by receiving my master's degree from WGU.”
For more information about Native American Heritage Month, as well as teacher resources, visit the Library of Congress.