Haley Seven Deers was ten when her family lived in the basement of Hamburg’s Museum für Völkerkunde (Museum of Anthropology) in Germany while her father consulted on an exhibit featuring Indigenous cultures in the Americas. It was during these formative years when the curious youngster was able to roam the empty hallways at night that her academic pathway was paved.
After two years of studying in Selkirk College’s School of University Arts & Sciences, Seven Deers is getting set to move onto the University of British Columbia-Okanagan (UBCO) in Kelowna. Starting in September, the 18-year-old will arrive to class as a UBC Centennial Scholars Entrance Award winner after it was announced she will receive $20,000 in financial assistance to complete the final two years of her undergraduate degree.
Haley Seven Deers completed two years of her undergraduate degree in Selkirk College’s School of University Arts & Sciences by the time she was 18. The winner of a UBC Centennial Scholars Entrance Award, Seven Deers will now work towards completing her undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia-Okanagan (UBCO) starting this September in Kelowna.
“History makes you understand the background and Anthropology makes you able to understand everything else,” Seven Deers says of the double major she has chosen to study.
Homeschooling Provides Vital Foundation
Seven Deers grew up on a ranch near Greenwood, BC where she was homeschooled with three younger siblings by her mother Sanna. Her father, David Seven Deers, is a well-known Indigenous sculptor and consultant whose work can be seen all over the world.
“Homeschooling was important for me because it allowed for individualization with the learning experience,” she says. “It gave me a different perspective to the homeschooling experience because growing up in the Indigenous culture is going to influence what we were learning.”
Seven Deers graduated from high school when she was 16 and immediately enrolled at Selkirk College. Being at least a couple years younger than her post-secondary peers, Seven Deers says the adjustment in the first few months was challenging.
“The teachers I had in the first year, they were people who I could approach to help me improve in areas where I was having a more difficult time,” Seven Deers says of her introduction to college life. “It takes a bit of time to get used to learning in the classroom setting and during that period it was very important to have teachers you could talk to and feel comfortable with.”
Instructors Who Make a Difference
Seven Deers says that all her School of University Arts & Sciences instructors helped her achieve lofty academic goals, but singles out Lori Barkley (Anthropology), Takaia Larsen (History) and Almeda Glenn-Miller (Creative Writing) as vital influences.
“I admire them and respect them so much,” Seven Deers says of her former instructors. “Growing up, my mother is someone I really looked up to as a strong female figure. Her values and the way she supports our family, it’s what I see in Almeda and Lori and Takaia. I trusted them and respected how they were trying to help me along.”
The UBC Centennial Scholars Entrance Award program supports academically qualified students who show an interest in the school, but would not otherwise be able to attend without significant financial assistance. The renewable award is payable over two years and will provide Seven Deers the opportunity complete her degree.
“It takes off a lot of pressure,” Seven Deers says of the scholarship. “We come to learn, but there is always the outstanding pressures of finances which means sometimes people study something they think will get them a job so they can pay back all of these loans. Having a scholarship like this means a lot because it eliminates the pressure, so I can feel free to learn whatever I want.”