Hannahville High School senior makes a big impact in her small community

Positively U.P.

WILSON, Mich. (WJMN) – It is not every day that a student gets a full-ride scholarship, but for one Nah Tah Wahsh Hannahville Indian Public School Academy senior, she has been offered full-rides to two Michigan universities.

Michigan State University and Western Michigan University both offered Jo Troxell full-ride scholarships for her academic excellence. Earlier in March, Troxell was surprised by school faculty and her fellow peers as they lined the hallways of the school cheering and clapping for her in honor of this news.

“I’ve always dreamed of this, like, for a really long time. I used to imagine in my head of getting full-rides for some reason and it actually happened. I’m a big believer in manifesting and I really believe I manifested it,” said Troxell.

This accomplishment was not only a big deal to Troxell, but also to her whole community. “Mama Julie” Knauf, a high school teacher at Nah Tah Wahsh PSA, was one of Troxell’s biggest supporters and inspirations.

“It’s the stuff of educators’ dreams. That’s what you want for students, to realize their own potential and to go and seize it. It’s amazing,” said Knauf.

None of this would’ve been possible without Troxell’s older sister, Ruby, who adopted her when they were both just teenagers. Although Ruby had to put her dreams on hold to raise her sister, she said she would do it all over again if she had to.

“When we were children and if you would have thought this or even said that to us when we were little, we would’ve been like ‘No way’,” said Ruby. “People thought of us that way, too. We had many adults, I mean not teachers and things like that, but friends parents, and things like that because of who our family is, would never have expected this from us either. That kind of hurt me growing up because I can do things just like anybody else and so can my sister. And so growing up and proving those people wrong was a huge accomplishment, too.”

School secretary and administrative assistant Lacey Kinnart says both Ruby and Jo Troxell are role models to the younger students at Nah Tah Wahsh PSA.

“It gave a lot of kids hope like, ‘Wow, someone from Hannahville can make it and go and leave and do big things’,” said Kinnart. “And it also shows that college is important, you know, and moving forward from high school to college is obtainable for especially kids here because there tends to be lower expectations for kids from the Rez or from Indigenous communities that they’re just not going to go far but it’s a beacon of hope for this community as a whole, not just the students here as well.”

In our web exclusive, Kinnart gives a more in-depth explanation on the success of the Troxells and what it means for Indigenous communities today and also Indigenous ancestors:

“That was one of my goals, was to inspire the younger generation, especially the younger generation in my community of Native Americans here in my community. And I’ve already gotten so much feedback, teachers are already coming up to me and saying ‘Someone in my class said they wanted to be like you’, or just when I walk down the elementary hallway I can tell that I’m really just a token for them of inspiration, that they can really do anything if they put their mind to it,” said Troxell.

Although she hasn’t decided which school she is going to attend this fall, Troxell knows she will be majoring in English. And one day, she hopes to work for a book publisher or become a journalist.

“I always prioritize education and my learning, and I’m really glad this happened because of my hard work.”

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