Hau! Anpetu Waste'! My English name is Valentina Makes Him First. My Lakota name is Tahochoka Waste Win (Good Center Woman). I am from Manderson, South Dakota. I am a single mother to a 6 year-old son named Bryan. He is the love of my life and he is my everything. I am Native American. I am an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation and am half Cheyenne River Sioux of Eagle Butte, South Dakota. I was born and raised in South Dakota. My parents are Babette Thin Elk of Manderson, South Dakota and William Makes Him First Sr. My Maternal Grandparents are Wilma Thin Elk of Manderson, South Dakota and the late Orlando Thin Elk of Rosebud, South Dakota. My Paternal Grandparents are Elizabeth Dearly-Makes Him First of Oglala, South Dakota and the late Ira Makes Him First Sr. of Eagle Butte, South Dakota. I am the oldest of 4 sisters and 4 brothers. I am also a aunt to 5 nephews and 3 neices.
I attended grade school at Loneman School in Oglala, South Dakota. I attended high school at Pine Ridge High School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota and I graduated high school in May 2002. I attended college at Cambridge College in Aurora Colorado starting September 2002. I got into a 15 month program at the college that would help me finish college a little faster. So I graduated college in December 2003 with my Associates of Science in Information Technology and Computer Networking. I worked a few odd jobs here and there in the Denver area, but I felt like computers wasn't really my calling. So I moved back to South Dakota in April 2004. I missed being home with my friends and family because the college program was so demanding, I hardly ever came home to visit. So I was very happy when I came home. I was a college graduate with no job when I got home. So my mother, who is also a teacher, said the school where she worked at needed a substitute teacher. So I applied, not knowing anything about teaching, but I was broke and needed income. After a month or so, I found out that teaching children was 'my calling'. That spring, I also found out that I was pregnant with my son, Bryan. I was scared and unprepared! So I decieded to take college courses at the Oglala Lakota College during the Fall 2004 semester and work on getting into Early Childhood. By the Fall of 2004, I was taking classes at OLC in Early Childhood, working full-time as a Special Education Aide at Rockyford School, and I was about to have my son! On September 23, 2004 at 3:59 a.m., I gave birth to a 5 lbs. 1 and 1/2 ounces and 17 3/4 inches long, little angel named Bryan Smith Jr.! When my son was born, my life changed. I knew then that my life would never be the same and that he would be my world for the rest of my life, and he still is. By January 2005, I got a interview for a open position as a Bilingual Teacher Trainee at the Rockyford School. I got the position and this position would change my life, again! On this program, the program paid for my books, tuition, fees, and also provided me experience in the classroom, as long as I pursued a college degree in Education. For the next five years, I pursued a dual degree in Early Childhood and Education at OLC and continued working at Rockyford School. By 2010, I had 2 Associates degrees in Early Childhood and Education and I graduated with my Bachelor's degree in Education in June 2010. I got to experience many classroom settings while teaching at Rockyford School. I got to teach for a year in a kindergarten classroom and a few times in the past summers. I needed a little change in my grade level of teaching, so in January 2011, I begin working at the OLC Head Start program in Manderson, South Dakota.
I am currently working on getting my Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood from OLC, taking classes, and I hope to be finished by June 2012. I am still employed at the Oglala Lakota College Head Start Program and really enjoy my job!