Osage woman named Valedictorian of Bacone College’s 2018 graduating class

Junitress JoAnn Smith, an Osage tribal member from Hominy, is the Valedictorian for Bacone College’s graduating class of 2018.

Graduating Summa Cum Laude, with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Smith joins a long line of Osages who have attended Bacone College. The commencement ceremony was on May 12, featuring Keynote Speaker Congressman Markwayne Mullin and Smith, who also gave a commencement speech as Valedictorian.

Smith, later that day, posted a message on her Facebook page:

“As this day comes to an end, I just want to say how humbled and honored I am to graduate from Bacone College. When I started my educational journey, I never would have thought I would be standing on stage giving a speech as Valedictorian. It was no easy task and I definitely wanted to give up a time or two, but with the encouragement of my friends and classmates and their motivation to keep me pushing forward I hung in there and it paid off today. I am so proud of everyone who graduated this Spring. Seeing so many Wah.Zha.Zhi's furthering their education makes me proud! Even though I physically didn't have my grandma, mom, and uncle there...I know they were there with me in spirit. I wanted to finish what I started a long time ago and I did this for them! Thank you to everyone that has been there for me through this journey and made today a special day for me! I am truly blessed to have you and all the love and support you have given me.”

According to the college’s website, Bacone College is an independent institution related to the American Baptist Churches, USA, and maintains its commitment to serving American Indians within a culturally diverse community. The college, through its baccalaureate and associate degree programs, challenges students to develop intellectual and social skills, spiritual values and healthy lifestyles by providing quality education in a nurturing Christian environment.