An exceprt:

Graduating this week from Yakama Nation Tribal School, Ashley Walsey is closing in on the goal she set for herself long ago — to study zoology at Washington State University.

“It’s been my dream since I was 7,” she said. “I’ve always loved animals a lot; my dad tells me that when I was little, the very first thing I wanted was a ferret.”

This fall, the 18-year-old animal lover from White Swan is headed to WSU and she’s simultaneously thrilled about her next adventure and worried about how much she’ll miss her little sister and her friends.

It’s a touch of the competitive spirit that made her a three-sport athlete for the Tribal School, competing in basketball, volleyball and track, as well as dancing in the powwows she travels to with her family.

Tribal School Principal Relyn Strom said Walsey works hard at everything she puts her mind to.

“She’s one of our strongest students academically, but she’s also a three-sport athlete and she’s very active in traditional cultural activities, like dancing and learning the Yakama language,” Strom said.

Walsey also credits her experience at the Tribal School and some of the friends she made there with helping her stay on track to college.

As for what kind of career she envisions for herself, Walsey is still open-minded. Maybe she’ll be a veterinarian or a zoologist who travels the world, or come home and work for the Yakama Nation’s wildlife program.

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