Two current Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College students recently received the Ethel M. Curry American Indian Leadership Scholarship for academic excellence.
Shala Topping of Cloquet is a second-year student in the Human Services program at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College and will graduate at the end of Spring Semester 2015. Topping is also completing the Chemical Dependency Counselor certificate program and plans to transfer to the College of St. Scholastica Social Work program to complete a bachelor’s degree. Her career goal is to help people as a social work professional and counselor. Topping is a graduate of Cloquet Senior High School and works full-time at the Center for American Indian Resources in Duluth.
Lance Northbird of Cloquet is a second-year student working toward completion of an associate of arts degree and will graduate at the end of Spring Semester 2015. Northbird plans to transfer to the University of Minnesota-Duluth to major in Political Science and is considering a minor in Hydrology. His career goal is to work in a position to advocate for human rights and environmental concerns. Northbird is also considering graduate school and law school in his future. Northbird is a graduate of Virginia Secondary High School in Virginia, Minnesota, and works in the Resource Management Division of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
The Ethel M. Curry American Indian Leadership Scholarships are awarded by the Minnesota Academic Excellence Foundation in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Education.
“Receiving an Ethel Curry Scholarship is an honor and recognition of academic excellence and professional promise,” said Larry Anderson, President of Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. “The scholarships are awarded to deserving students for their academic record and pursuit of a college degree. We hope our two scholarship recipients will continue to honor the legacy of Ethel Curry.”
Ethel Curry was born in 1888 in Hixton, Wisconsin, near Black River Falls. She graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1914 with a B.A. in Mathematics and Biology. After graduation, Curry applied for and was accepted to two medical schools, but due to health considerations, she did not attend either. She instead worked as a surgical secretary at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for nearly 40 years. She retired in 1953.
According to her niece, Jeanne Angel, Curry lived simply and frugally, without television or telephone. She occasionally traveled and had special interests in botany and horticulture. She was a lifelong scholar with a lively, inquiring mind and an independent spirit. She read National Geographic and scientific journals avidly, well into her last years.
Her tremendous wealth, which was not disclosed to her family, was attained through successful investments in a growing company called Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M). According to her friends, Curry was a warm and sociable person, with compassion particularly for American Indian people. Ethel Curry died in 1995 at the age of 107.
The Minnesota Academic Excellence Foundation is a non-profit organization that promotes academic excellence in Minnesota public and nonpublic schools and communities through public-private partnerships. The MAEF Board of Directors selected the Ethel Curry Scholars based on specific scholarship criteria, including academic record and progress toward completion of a college degree.

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