August 2019 – Graduate

AIGC Scholar Jessica Buckless

Jessica Buckless

Polson, MT
Confederated Salish Tribe
Gates Millennium Program – Graduate

University of Northern Colorado
Doctorate in Education Reform
GPA 3.7

Community Service

  • Hamline University Fellow – Third Grade Teacher


After receiving the Gates Millenium Scholarship in 2008, my studies took me to Hawaii, Missouri and then Minnesota where I earned my Bachelor of Arts in communication studies from the University of Minnesota. Go Gophers! I then pursued a Master of Arts in Teaching from Hamline University. I began my teaching career as a preschool teacher and then as a third-grade teacher. This year, my second year of teaching third grade, I started an educational doctorate program from the University of Northern Colorado. The Gates Millenium Scholars program has shaped my life in ways that I never knew were possible. I have had opportunities to work with students of color from all backgrounds. My background has inspired me to become an administrator to help American Indian students succeed. My third graders inspire me to be better every day and my experience growing up on the Flathead Reservation has taught me that teachers can have one of the biggest impacts on a child’s life, especially if they can connect to them culturally. I grew up watching my grandfather Joe McDonald change the lives of so many people on the Flathead Reservation by helping start Salish Kootenai College. I witnessed the college grow and change and the commitment my grandfather had in making a difference in the community through education. I will be the second person in my family to earn a doctorate in education after my grandfather. 

He has inspired me to be better and to go back to our community and make a difference through education. If I can make even half of the impact that my grandfather has had on education, my life would be fulfilled.

Inspiration from one of my third graders this year: Ms. Buckless you make me want to come to school every day.