Native American film student at MSU writes to inspire others and overcome challenges

Posted at 5:56 PM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 19:56:30-04

Tia Doney says it wasn’t easy to leave her nieces and nephews in northern Montana, but she did it. She came all the way to Montana State University to show them success is possible. But that is only part of her story.

Tia is a film and anthropology student dedicated to showing others that their stories and heritage hold power too.

“I’m proud of my heritage,” said Tia. “One of my favorite things about my culture is all the lessons. One of my favorite stories is the story of how the Big Dipper and Northern Star came to be.”

"Stars In The Sky" is a script written by Doney based on her modern take on a tale from her Native American heritage to help others connect to and understand the beliefs.

“A personal thing for me is changing the over-romanticization of native culture,” she said.

She’s proud of her heritage and her own personal story. She is passionate about helping all people embrace the power of their own backgrounds and layers. In fact, MTN learned when it comes to stories, Tia has a powerful one of her own.

“When you make a new friend, pay attention to the stories they tell you because it could tell you a lot about who they are,” said Tia.

Tia bravely opened about her battle with dyslexia, something she feels is very important to share.

“A lot of people don’t expect someone to be so open about having a learning disability,” she said.

Tia says she has had to fight through all four aspects of dyslexia that bring challenges, including math and also all aspects of languages: reading, writing, and spoken.

“It is a disability, I do have accommodations for it. I don’t really describe myself as a disabled person. I am a person with a disability,” she said.

Yet, she overcomes as a writer. She has been putting pen to paper since she was in 3rd grade. She also shares that she didn’t just have to overcome dyslexia, but the self-doubt that came with it.

“Especially with my past I straight up hated myself, and when I started school I walked into the main academic building knowing I was going to fail,” said Tia.

But that didn’t happen; instead, she excelled. She says she turned the tables on the disability by using it as a catalyst to foster her strong work ethic. The rest of her motivation comes from her family.

“I went back to school to prove to my nieces and nephews that I was going to go back to school,” she said.

She says it was hard to leave home but she pushes forward every day to show others no matter what challenges you face, success is possible. All you have to do—is try.

“Try,” said Tia. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from. I know it is scary in the beginning. Try. Especially if you have a disability, actually put in effort, actually try because you can accomplish so much.”

We wish Tia the best of luck as she finishes her career as a student and hopefully moves on to a career in film.