Episode # 20

Breaking Barriers for Yourself and Your Community

Representation matters! Lara Gerhardson, the Outreach Liaison for the Minnesota Indian Scholarship Program (MISP), talks about her journey through higher education, including stops at Harvard and Boston University, and why it’s important to her to bring what she learned back to her community in Minnesota. There are many reasons to choose to continue on with postsecondary education and for Lara, giving back and helping others succeed in the same way she has is perhaps the most impactful one of all. Life After Now is brought to you by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.


Topics covered in this episode include:

  • Lara’s early experience with education and the importance of representation
  • The Indigenous American community’s complicated relationship with education
  • Dealing with discrimination and stereotypes in her college application journey to Harvard
  • Bringing back knowledge to the community that raised you
  • Loans, interest, and recognizing that college is an investment into yourself
  • Celebrating yourself and your accomplishments

Lara Gerhardson

Episode Transcript


Lara is native to Northern Minnesota and is a Northern Minnesota Native. She is a descendant of the Red Lake and White Earth Nations and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. 


Lara received her B.A. in English & American Literature & Language from Harvard University and her M.F.A. in Communications/Film Production from Boston University. Her degrees reflect her love of storytelling in all its forms. Lara is a published poet, short story author, screenwriter, and playwright.  


She believes in the power of education and recognizing each individual’s talents. Lara has been the Outreach Liaison for the Office of Higher Education’s Minnesota Indian Scholarship Program since 2007. She also developed and implemented a successful Strengths-based mentorship program which she directed in Northern Minnesota from 2010-2018. 

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