Stang Stories: Sarah Perez

Nov 30, 2022
“I was born in California to my father who is Hispanic and my mother who is part of the Lakota people. After my parents divorced, I moved with my mom to South Dakota on the Yankton Sioux Reservation for several years, then moved to Larchwood, Iowa.
Growing up I saw the struggles of the Lakota and other Native people. Many had never even graduated from high school and started working because that was what they needed to do for themselves and their families. I also saw a lot of high-risk behavior that stemmed from so much adversity and challenge. I knew I wanted to go to college and do something that could show kids like me that they mattered to the world.
Though I knew I wanted to go to college, I never planned on running. The track and field coaches at Morningside took me to lunch, though, and it was the best lunch I have ever had because they really saw me for me. They didn’t ask me about PRs and running goals. They wanted to know who I was and connected with me as a person to make sure I could accomplish whatever I wanted to do after Morningside. I honestly didn’t even realize how successful the program has been until much later because it wasn’t about that for me. That feeling of family and being cared about was what mattered, and I have had so much opportunity being at a small school where I am welcomed as a part of the community.
I recently got a tattoo that says CANTE TINZA, which means ‘brave heart’ in Lakota. I was super fearful in high school and my knees would shake even if I had to talk in class. Being at Morningside and finding a place here has helped me overcome my fears. I am using it as the foundation for who I want to be as professional working in social work or perhaps an anti-human trafficking organization, or even by giving back to Lakota children in some way because that is something that has been pulling at my heartstrings lately.
Whatever I decide, I know how I am growing at Morningside has a greater purpose than myself, and I remind myself of that whenever I want to give up. My advice to others is to never let fear drive you back, because fear simply keeps you from giving the gifts you were meant to give to others.”
Sarah Perez, a brave heart preparing to make the world a little better for children and families