Rhonda LeValdo

Rhonda LeValdo

Honors, achievements and special recognition:

  • Vice President, Native American Journalists Association, 2008-2009
  • One of ten people selected by the Pulitzer Center for a video done on person the world should know about, which was on her grandmother Rachel Blackwater and her life.
  • Received a National Minority Consortia Fellowship, working on video reports for the Online Newshour (PBS) following the Presidential Election in 2008.
  • Special guest on CSPAN's "Close-Up at the Newseum" in January 2009
  • Current host and producer of the radio show "Native Spirit" on 90.1 KKFI-FM Kansas City, MO.
  • Elected to Native American Journalists Association Board of Directors July 2007
  • Club Sponsor to the Haskell Intertribal Cultural Club which presents Native American Dances, stories, and other events to schools and the public all over the state of Kansas and neighboring states.
  • Club Sponsor for the Stories 'N Motion Film Club of Haskell Indian Nations University that enables students to explore film process, production and promotion of Native American films through the annual film festival held in the spring.
  • Adjunct Faculty at Haskell Indian Nations University teaching Video Production. The classes get students involved in making videos. Through the classes students have produced their own videos that have been shown on non-profit websites, as well as traveling to New York City to have a video previewed.

How I became interested in my area of study/research/discipline:

When I was younger I realized that a lot of stories in the news were not necessarily about positive things that were being done in Native American communities. I know that sometimes if you want something done, you have to do it yourself, and that's basically how I became involved in journalism. I also really enjoy making videos. One of my favorite videos was one on "AIDS in Indian Country" which was basically an informational video for the younger generation about a subject not really talked about on the reservations. I also made a documentary about the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas that was geared towards school children to learn about the tribe that many Kansas kids don't know about. I look at all my news stories or videos as informational and educational videos for non-natives and hopefully they learn something they never knew before.

An honor, achievement or accomplishment that is most meaningful to me and why:

When I was a student at Haskell Indian Nations University I was given an award in memory of a faculty instructor's son "The Cecil Dawes Jr." award for my work on the newspaper and other club activities. But that award really made me think about their family, and how they lost their son, and that I had to go on and do something for receiving it... it gave my education meaning. Thank you Cecil and Wylma Dawes!

Someone who has been a role model for me:

I have had many role models to look up to. As a former athlete, I look up to Billy Mills and his goals and accomplishments. As an academic, I saw so many Native women who pursued avenues that were not looked up to as necessarily good — Suzanne Harjo and her push to get rid of the Washington football team name, Elizabeth Cook Lynn for her great writing and willingness to say anything! And of course my grandmother who has taken on all of our family and friends of our family as her own, she really is the rock for our people.

Someone who has been influential or had a significant impact on my life:

My sister is the whole reason I came to Lawrence, Kansas, and if she would have never come, I would not be here. I honestly think she helped me get out of slump I was in after my running career didn't pan out, and gave me the lift I needed to get back into education. We have been present in each others lives when we needed it, and I want to let her know she is very important to me!

Most favorite college-related memory:

Well I have to say that being in Allen Fieldhouse when KU won the NCAA Basketball Championship, That was so great to experience that with both my kids. The atmosphere of the Fieldhouse that night was electric and so full of optimism. It was just a tremendous moment to be with so many Jayhawk fans — it's an experience I will never forget!

An important life lesson I have learned:

Always listen to everyone, even if you don't like what they are saying because they may say one thing you never knew before. And that is what we are here to do - learn from each other.

If I had a sister just entering college, I would want her to know...

that school is hard, that research is hard, because if it was easy we wouldn't feel the accomplishment when we graduate, that we actually learned something!

A favorite quote or saying (and why it is meaningful to me):

If you think you'll lose, you've lost;
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a person's will;
It's all in a state of mind!

I don't know who wrote this, but it was part of a bigger poem a fellow cross country runner in high school gave to me. We all went to a cross country camp, which I think that changed a lot of our outlooks on running. I always kept this poem, because I felt it related more to other things than just running, but running has always been a great part of my life. I don't think I would be where I am at without the guidance and self esteem running has given me. I had a coach who believed so much in me when I didn't believe in myself as a decent runner. He put me on a relay team and told me we can win, and we ended up winning the race. I always remembered that, and I thought, it really is a mental game! From that point, I have always had positive thoughts when something hard comes up in my life.