Foster Youth recognized at Montana College Access Network Conference

     Foster Care

Reach Higher Montana nominates two Montana foster youth, they both receive the Student Achievers award

Each year at the annual MCAN conference it ends with a perennial favorite of all attendees – the Student Achiever Luncheon. We get to hear from and honor amazing students in our state.  This year MCAN recognized six students. Students who were recognized were invited to attend the luncheon held on March 11 in Polson this year. Each student can invite family and friends to see them receive their awards.  When the students accept their award they each present a 5-minute acceptance speech.  

MCAN achievers must be a current or former student who was served by and actively participated in and MCAN affiliate program. The students attest to the significant impact participating in said program had upon his/her educational and professional objectives. The students are recommended by a current member of MCAN who has had direct interaction with the nominee. The nominees that are both first-generation and low income are given preference. This is no small task as each nominee needs to write up a 1-2 page resume and a statement outlining his/her accomplishments addressing the impact of participation in an MCAN program. Reach Higher Montana nominated two students – Kaii Wilson and Shanell Lavallie – both who were chosen to receive the award.  

Kaii Wilson is a first-generation high school graduate. He will graduate this May from Paris Gibson in Great Falls.  He recently participated in several programs including The Youth Advisory Board, the Reach Higher Summit, and represented the state of Montana in a national independent living conference. He attended the Reach Higher Summit in June 2019.  He attended classes on budgets, finances, how to communicate personal needs, how to pay bills, scholarships, and raise self-confidence. He learned about scholarships and grants that could help to cover higher education costs. After that, he joined the Youth Advisory Board. This is a team of youth making a difference for youth in foster care around the state. Fall of 2020 Kaii will attend MSU Bozeman with Microbiology as his major. 

Shanell Lavallie is from the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.  Her tribes are A’Aninin and Nakoda (GrosVentre and Assiniboine). Shanell is currently a junior at Salish Kootenai College pursuing her Bachelors in Elementary in education. She aspires to pursue her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and dreams of being the superintendent of Great Falls Public schools which is the community she grew up in. Shanell is very passionate about the foster care community and has participated in a variety of opportunities provided for former foster youth. She has engaged in the Montana Chaffee youth advisory board, Foster club All-Star internship, and the National Foster Youth Institute (NFYI). Shanell was recently selected as a delegate for the Foster Youth Internship with the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute located in Washington D.C. 

The other 4 MCAN achievers are Alysa Arrowtop, Bret Bachteler, Joanne Lee, and Madison Nowakowski.