July 18, 2003 - Bellingham Herald: Dakotah Lane bound for Africa with Peace Corps

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By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 8:42 am: Edit Post

Dakotah Lane bound for Africa with Peace Corps

Dakotah Lane bound for Africa with Peace Corps

Outstanding student bound for Africa with Peace Corps
OFF TO SEE THE WORLD: Dakotah Lane of Bellingham will travel in Europe for two months, and then in October he will be moving to Africa for two years service with the Peace Corps, teaching math. Lane recently graduated from the University of Washington in with a degree in electrical engineering. MAME BURNS HERALD PHOTO

PEOPLE: Overcoming a hearing problem took time, but talent took over after internship sparked interest in engineering.

Michelle Nolan, For the Bellingham Herald

Dakotah Lane could be making big bucks as a recent University of Washington honor graduate in electrical engineering. Instead, he is headed for a teaching position in Africa with the Peace Corps.

That helps to explain why Lane, a 23-year-old Bellingham resident of Lummi heritage, leaves his mentors with intriguing memories about the impressions he makes.

"I'll never forget this comment I received from one of our vendors when Dakotah was an intern with us," said Rick Newell, a director of data operations for AT&T Wireless Internet in Seattle.

"'Hey, it's great to be working with one of your key people,' he told me after he began working with Dakotah," Newell recalled with a chuckle. "And here Dakotah was an intern! We hired him after that."

Achievement award

Lane, one of 10 recipients of UW's Minority Achievement Award during June graduation, worked his way through three years of college, thanks to AT&T. He was hired after answering an ad in the newsletter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), from which he earned four $2,500 scholarships.

"Dakotah is amazing. He has an incredible mind," Newell said. "I feel like I raised the kid. He did three years of very intense work for us. I know what a huge impression he made as a speaker at an AT&T conference before more than 3,000 people in New Mexico two years ago."

Lane, though, recalls when he was more interested in playing soccer and video games than trying to earn straight A's at Sehome High School. He acknowledges he was a late-bloomer after spending years learning how to cope with a congenital hearing defect.

"I was not a stellar student at Sehome. I had about a 3.4 grade-point average and I was really very much on the bubble for UW," he said. "If it wasn't for Ken Marshall's faith in me, I might never have had the chance to attend UW and accomplish what I did. He wrote the greatest letter of recommendation, and that put me over the top for admission."

Marshall, then a Sehome counselor and now at Bellingham High, isn't surprised that Lane fufilled the predictions.

"I just felt he would have great success at UW," Marshall said. "Dakotah was a wonderful kid at Sehome. He was just such a role model even then, in many ways."

Amy Feldman-Bawarshi, the academic counselor for UW's department of electrical engineering, says she'll always remember Lane's dedication to both academic excellence and helping younger minority students fulfill their potential in a variety of tutoring programs.

Lane was disappointed to learn he was among only 27 American Indian graduates at UW this year. One of his goals is to help improve that total.

"Dakotah does everything with grace," Feldman-Bawarshi said of Lane, who served as president of the AISES branch at UW. "He's a genuinely nice person. He has an endearing personality because he's so humble. It's like pulling teeth to get him to tell about what he accomplishes.

"He was a remarkable ambassador for our department," she said. "I seems there were countless times he would volunteer to help. I knew how inspiring he would be to other students, because I knew he's someone they would want to emulate."

Difficult times

Times weren't always so good for Lane, whose mother, Lydia Bennett, and father, Galen Lane, were divorced when he was 9. That was during the period when Dakotah was adjusting to a nerve problem that severely limited his hearing. He received his first hearing aid when he was 5.

"I didn't always fit in well in school and sometimes I kind of withdrew into myself," said Lane, who didn't even tell most of his fellow students about the successful modeling career he and his sister, Temryss, enjoyed in advertising for the Bon Marche and other stores for seven years.

Temryss, a 21-year-old senior student-athlete at Arizona State University, will participate in her fourth season of NCAA Division I soccer this fall. Lane also is close to his half-brothers, Kurt, 7, and Lukas, 5. They are the children of Bennett and Ken Reinschmidt, who married in 1993.

"We call ourselves the LaBenSchmidts," quipped Lane's mother, a commercial real estate broker.

Hard to understand

Lane recalled that as a youngster, it was difficult for him to follow group conversations and to understand nuances and tones of speech.

"A lot of people thought I was ignoring them," he said. "The hearing-aid technology wasn't as good when I was younger. Fortunately, it's a lot better now."

Lane found a significant outlet in soccer, beginning in grade school. He developed into a strapping athlete good enough to earn three varsity letters at Sehome and to play on the Whatcom Rangers select club team.

Lane helped Sehome finish second in the state tournament in 1998, when the school played in Class 4A. He has fond memories of playing for then-coach Pete Frey and earned the sportsmanship award for the state title match, a 3-1 loss to Ferris of Spokane.

Lane used a minority scholarship to participate in an intense internship with IBM in Rochester, Minn., in the summers before and after he entered college. "That experience was the best thing for me," he said. "That really got me going and fired my interest in electrical engineering."

He's giving himself a two-month vagabond tour of Europe this summer as a graduation gift. Then it's off to Africa in October - he's not yet exactly sure where - for service in the Peace Corps, teaching math to college-age students.

"At one time, I would never have believed I'd be where I am now," he said. "I feel I've totally grown as an individual. The biggest growth aspect is that I've convinced myself that I can learn and do anything I want to do."

Michelle Nolan is a freelance writer. For questions or story ideas, contact Dean Kahn, city editor, at dean.kahn@bellinghamherald.com or 715-2264.

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Story Source: Bellingham Herald

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Recruitment; Minority Volunteers



By Adina Hipp (adsl-215-209-100.aep.bellsouth.net - on Saturday, April 24, 2004 - 10:40 am: Edit Post

My neighboors daughter is graduating from college and this summer she will be going into the peace corps to Arica. I would like to get her a gift that she can use. If you have any suggestions please email me. adina_hipp@bellsouth.net Thank you

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