New Buffalo High School graduate Rebecca Wise was among the first traditional students to receive the Pokagon Fund Scholarship. She attended Jackson College in Jackson, Michigan before transferring to Spring Arbor University to study language arts and elementary education.
Wise says her passion for teaching children began as she worked with students in New Buffalo Middle School as a high school senior. While in college, she volunteered at several schools and worked with the children living at the Union Gospel Mission Women's shelter, the Jackson Interfaith Shelter, Nepalese Refugees, and several churches.
In 2013, Wise attended the Pokagon Fund's Celebration of its 500th grant at the Four Winds Casino Resort. She was awed by how many lives the Pokagon Fund has impacted and appreciated the way the Pokagon Fund had built so generously into her own and so many others' futures.
Since her graduation from Spring Arbor University, Wise taught fourth grade at St. Stephens Indian School on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. She gained a greater understanding of the importance of trans-generational culture on the reservation--such as the basket-weaving seminar offered by the Pokagon Fund in 2015--after experiencing a Cedaring by the elders.
While she loved the Wyoming reservation, Wise says she missed her home state. Wise now teaches fifth grade at a K-12 Public Charter School in Hillsdale, Michigan. Wise says: "The Pokagon Fund gave me the opportunity to learn beyond high school, to pursue my passion, and to become a productive adult in our global community. I'm so grateful for the experiences afforded me by the Pokagon Fund, and teaching is my way to give back."