Bemidji Pioneer: A new start for a new semester: BSU welcomes back students

BSU President Faith Hensrud speaks to a gathering at the American Indian Resource Center on Wednesday during the Day of Welcome. In addition to Hensrud’s comments, the program also included comments from American Indian Resource Center Executive Director Bill Blackwell and BSU Professor Anton Treuer. (Jordan Shearer | Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI—Bemidji State University leaders welcomed students back to campus Wednesday.

The school’s twice-annual “Day of Welcome” at the American Indian Resource Center featured an honor song, pipe ceremony, and a handful of speeches from university leaders.

“We basically make sure that we start off each semester just in a culturally rooted way,” said Bill Blackwell, Jr., the resource center’s executive director.

He and other school leaders said they hoped BSU students stayed safe when they travel to and from campus and prayed for a great day, great semester, and great year.

“We’re kind of all like a big family and we’re all here to help each other out.”

The school also dedicated a new lounge for its Niganawenimaanaanig nursing program. The program—named for an Ojibwe word meaning “we take care of them”– encourages American Indian representation in nursing and is funded by a nearly $2 million Nursing Workforce Development grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, according to a school release.

Students participating in the program receive scholarships up to $4,000 and monthly stipends of up to $500 for meeting specific program requirements.