Native American future graduate receives ‘student of the year award’

Only one student is nominated by the school to be chosen for the award.
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 8:36 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Julius Morris will soon be a graduate of the criminal justice law enforcement program at Western Dakota Technical College. He is the second student at WDT to win this award, the national American Technical Education Association Technical Student Award for 2023.

“I just never imagined me being, you know, looked up to like that. It’s like I’m making changes and I never imagined me being that important,” said Julius Morris, a future graduate of the criminal justice law enforcement program.

He stands out from the other students simply for his leadership, community service, and academics.

“The way he answered questions, the passion that he had for kids, for people, for people doing the right thing, I thought he would make a great correctional officer, and he has so far,” said Joe Guttierez, Adjunct professor, Western Dakota Technical College.

Morris has faced several obstacles in life, originally from Pine Ridge, where he grew up in poverty. He served almost four years in the army and was discharged due to an injury which he endured six surgeries.

After this, Morris enrolled in Western Dakota Tech, and started his path in the law enforcement program.

“I feel like I have a lot to live up to, and I definitely will because of it,” said Morris.

Currently, Morris works at the Western South Dakota Juvenile Services Center, as a correctional officer. Although the building is considered a federal building, he works for the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office.