RAPID CITY, S.D. (April 10, 2017) – South Dakota School of
Mines & Technology alumnus Vaughn Vargas has been selected as a 2017 Bush
Fellow, one of 24 leaders chosen for their records of achievement and
extraordinary potential to make significant societal contributions.
Selected from 639 applicants from South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota and 23
Native Nations, Vaughn will receive up to $100,000 over one to two years to
pursue educational and leadership development experiences.
“To be selected as a Bush Fellow is truly an honor. Being a
Bush Fellow allows to me develop myself to amplify my service to my community.
I have researched areas where I need to work, and my passion matches the
challenge,” Vargas said.
As coordinator of the first-ever cultural advisory
committee for the Rapid City Police Department (RCPD), an appointment taken
while completing his degree at Mines, Vargas has worked to help cultivate a
police force that reflects the racial makeup of the community. He is currently
working to help diversify the RCPD by focusing on organizational behavior and
With his Bush Fellowship, Vargas will develop new methods
to recruit and retain Native American police officers. He will attend the
Harvard Extension School for leadership training for a certificate in
organizational behavior. He will also research historical Lakota leadership and
diplomatic relations between Native Americans and the federal government. He
plans to tie these areas of development together to design a program that recruits
and retains Native Americans in law enforcement.
"Vaughn is an exceptional young leader who is choosing
to make a difference in our community. We are very proud of him,” said SD Mines
President Heather Wilson.
Bush Fellows were selected through a
multi-stage process involving Bush Fellow alumni, Bush Foundation staff and
established regional leaders. Applicants described their leadership vision and
passion and how a Bush Fellowship would help them achieve their goals.
“The 2017 Bush Fellows are extraordinary
leaders who make significant contributions to their communities,” said Bush
Foundation President Jennifer Ford Reedy. “The Bush Fellowship is both a
recognition of their accomplishments and a bet on their potential to make an
even bigger impact on our region.”
More than 2,000 people have taken advantage of
the fellowship to become better leaders through a self-designed learning
experience, academic program or travel and research across the country to build
connections with thought leaders on topics critical to their community. The
Bush Fellowship counts among its alumni celebrated Oglala Lakota painter and
educator Arthur Douglas Amiotte, internationally renowned artist Judith Onofrio and former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson.
Vargas also won numerous awards while attending SD Mines,
before graduating with a bachelor’s in industrial engineering in 2016. He has
been awarded the prestigious Truman, Udall and Hawkinson Foundation
Scholarships and has been named among the “40 Under 40” by the National Center
for American Indian Enterprise Development.