Mines News

Release Date Monday, April 10, 2017

Mines Alumnus Vaughn Vargas Selected for 2017 Bush Fellowship

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 culture. 

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.


About SD Mines  

Founded in 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a science and engineering research university located in Rapid City, S.D., offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university enrolls 2,654 students with a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1. The SD School of Mines placement rate for graduates is 97 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $61,300. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat

Contact: Dani Mason, (605) 394-2554, danielle.mason@sdsmt.edu

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