BOZEMAN — Six Montana State University students recently were selected for awards given by the MSU Department of Native American Studies to honor academic excellence, community service, and leadership.
One of those students was Holly Old Crow who received the Phyllis Berger Award for Leadership. Holly is a non-traditional student and mother of two who is now on her way to law school with a dream of working in Tribal Law. She is on a mission to make a difference, one of the so many reasons why she is Positively Montana.
“One of the things that I get teased about is that they always say ‘Holly’s only worry is making sure she gets things done,’” laughed Holly Old Crow.
Spend a few minutes talking to her and it’s no surprise she stands out as a woman with the skills to get any job done on campus and beyond. She is honored to receive the Phyllis Berger Award for Leadership.
Holly is a busy woman, with a daughter and son who just graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Science and Sociology with an emphasis in Criminal Justice and a Minor in Native American Studies. As co-president of the American Indian Council, she had a hand over the years in numerous projects and leadership roles.
“I think this year what I considered to be my baby was our annual auction and fundraiser. Although the Pow Wow was online this year we still thought it would be good to push for fund-raising so I really hustled with artists. We got tons of artwork pieces donated because they believe in the native students here,” she said.
Meanwhile, on MSU's campus, she also made an impact spreading awareness about the Native American community and fostering connections for lonesome classmates to make sure they have the emotional support they need to succeed.
“Being a mother I felt for a lot of these younger students,” she said. “A lot of them are the ages of my younger siblings. I would use my experience to come up with what I could so that they would be comfortable here, whether that be making a space for students to come and study or there would be times I would just cook a home-cooked meal and invite a few of them over.”
MSU is just the most recent chapter in her story. She’s now off to law school in Missoula with the dream to take on Tribal Law. She says she is inspired by other tribal lawyers working to improve life on reservations and she wants to be part of it.
“What I would like to do as a lawyer is work with the reservations as sort of a travel liaison working on federal law and policies,” she explained. “I'd like to strengthen that relationship between both governments in a more positive way.”
As a mother, Holly says her two children were big motivators -- they are her why. Why in 2018 she left her world on the Crow Reservation three hours away. She says it was a good life and one she was familiar with, but one that fell short of what she knew she was capable of.
“I asked myself what kind of life am I creating for my kids and do I want the stereotypical life working paycheck to paycheck or am I willing to put some hard work in,” she said.
Indeed, she says it wasn’t easy and she had to become mentally tough.
“When I put my mind to something I really push for it,” said Holly. “When I was here at MSU I was like ‘OK yes you're here for a reason, yes it gets lonely, yes it gets hard and you're struggling, but you're here for a reason,’” she said.
With that reason in mind, it’s on to law school now in pursuit of a dream and a mission to make a difference, making Holly Old Crow the epitome of Positively Montana. “If you really want something and it becomes your passion, you go for it,” she said.
She also shared her family’s background in law enforcement and the military and also jobs as a dispatcher helped fuel her passion for law.
Five other students were honored by the Department of Native American Studies as well and all have incredible stories.