Tulalip grad returns to speak again

TULALIP — The woman who was the Tulalip Tribes’ first high school valedictorian 10 years ago plans to return to the Tulalip Indian Reservation to speak at a special ceremony for tribal graduates.

Nicole Sieminski graduated from Marysville-Pilchuck High School in 1999 at the top of her class. She delivered the school’s valedictory speech, and had her pick between Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University. She chose Stanford, then went on to law school at the University of California’s Los Angeles campus.

Tribal leaders asked Sieminski to speak at the annual Tulalip graduation ceremony, during which tribal members, regardless of where they graduated, gather to be honored. The ceremony is scheduled for July 11.

“I pretty much always planned on going to college and leaving home,” said Sieminski, 27.

Now, she’s ready to return to Tulalip. With a law degree in hand and experience writing constitutions for Indian tribes, Sieminski hopes to eventually work as either an attorney for the tribe or in tribal government.

Tribal leaders hope Sieminski’s academic success is a harbinger for the future of the tribe’s young people. So dedicated is the tribe to higher education that it offers to pay tuition and book costs for college students. Each student also is eligible for a stipend to cover living costs.

Sieminski is grateful for a second chance to address fellow students.

“I spoke at my high school graduation, but now I feel like I have more to say,” she said.

Krista J. Kapralos: 425-339-3422, kkapralos@heraldnet.com.

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