American Indian Higher Education Conference showcases students' talents

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BISMARCK, N.D. - Thirty-six tribal colleges have sent students to Bismarck this week to showcase their talents.

Hundreds of students are at the Bismarck Event Center to show off their talents at the American Indian Higher Education Conference.

"It also gives them an opportunity to have a lot of pride in their own school. You'll see everybody is wearing their own college logo, paraphernalia, and so it's like we all want to win, our students want to win," said Sitting Bull College Vice President Koreen Ressler.

Students say they look forward to seeing the friends they made in past years.

"The theme this year is standing united, and I think us as a student congress and as AHEC we do that with our students. We bring people together, and I think competition win or lose that's the main idea," said Scarlett Cortez, Southwest student representative.

Students compete in categories ranging from a poetry slam, to a NASA engineering challenge where teams of students build functioning mini-mars rovers out of legos.

"Even if they don't win it's a good chance for students to build some leadership qualities," said Ressler.

Those that win the engineering challenge will get a chance to tour a NASA facility this Summer.

The conference moves around each year. The last time it was held in Bismarck was in 2011.