Meet the Jump Start Team




Hannah Burtt - Black Hills State University

Hi, my name is Hannah Burtt and I am the Jump Start Advisor for Black Hills State University. I was born, and grew up in Minnesota until I was 12. In 2001, my step-father, mother, three sisters and I relocated to a farm outside of Nisland, South Dakota. I attended Middle and High School in Newell. I was active in Cheerleading, Volleyball, student government and FFA. I began my undergraduate studies at South Dakota State University, but moved back to West River and graduated from Black Hills State University in 2011 with my Bachelors of Science in American Indian Studies. My dog and I currently reside in Spearfish. I started as the Jump Start Advisor for Black Hills State University in March of 2015. In my free time I work as an EMT with Spearfish Ambulance.
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Jack Thompson - Dakota State University


I was born in western South Dakota where most of my family still lives.  I graduated high school on the eastern side of the state.  I earned my undergraduate degree from South Dakota State University in History with an American Indian Studies minor.  I will graduate this summer with a Master’s degree in Mass Communication with a focus in Journalism.  I have been involved with the American Indian Education and Cultural Center since it first opened in 2008 on SDSU’s campus, in various capacities.  I have enjoyed working with students throughout my educational experience.  I was a peer mentor, student teacher, Graduate Teaching Assistant, and member of numerous clubs and organizations.

I am looking forward to the opportunity this program is presenting to students on Dakota State University’s campus.  I am looking forward to assisting students navigate their educational experience.  

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Matthew Perreault - Northern State University



My name is Matthew Perreault and I am the Jump Start Advisor at Northern State University. Originally from Connecticut, I earned my undergraduate degree in History and Political Science at the University of Connecticut. I continued my education at Louisiana State University, earning a Master’s degree in History while gaining work experience in University Auxiliary Services and Admissions. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in Admissions where I helped showcase the academic environment and campus involvement that awaited prospective students when they came to college. When the opportunity arose to join the staff at Northern State University and help students navigate college life after enrollment, I could not turn it down. I am excited to assist the students in the Jump Start program during this important transition in their life on their path to earning a college degree.


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Staci Eagle Elk - JS Advisor OLC Cropped.JPG

​Staci Eagle Elk - Oglala Lakota College


Staci is an enrolled member of the Osage Nation from Pawhuska, Oklahoma but has come to call South Dakota home where she lives with her two children. She is passionate about creating opportunities for tribal communities and believes that providing opportunities and resources will empower and reinforce the spirit of Native youth and future generations of Native Americans.

She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Central Oklahoma and plans on completing her M.S. degree in Rural Sociology, specializing in Native Community Development from South Dakota State University.

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Kaylynn Two Bulls - South Dakota School of Mines and Technology



My name is Kaylynn Marie Two Bulls. I am from Oglala, South Dakota, which is located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. An enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. I am a strong believer in my traditional ways. My culture is very important to me. I have an amazing daughter, her name is Lila Ava. And she is my ultimate inspiration.

I graduated from Red Cloud High School in 2007, an honored recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholarship. That fall I attended Black Hills State University (BHSU). In May 2012 I graduated from BHSU with my Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree, triple major; Human Services, Sociology, and American Indian Studies. In December 2014 I finished my Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree, specializing in Administration in Student Affairs. I decided on Administration in Student Affairs because it opens the doors to so many opportunities to help all students. I want to help students reach their educational goals by encouraging, supporting, and being a positive resource to them. It is my dream to help students see that there are so many opportunities and that continuing their education after high school can only lead to bigger and better things in life.


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Jill VanDamme - South Dakota State University



Jill serves as the Jump Start Advisor at South Dakota State University. In addition to being a resource academically, Jill seeks to assist students in overcoming obstacles that stand in the way so that each student can enjoy their college experience. College was a great learning experience for her and she believes it is one of the most important times for individuals to grow emotionally, psychologically and socially. She graduated from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science in Health and Physical Education. Jill and her husband moved to Palm Springs, California where she was a 6-8th grade girls Physical Education Teacher as well as Varsity Girls basketball coach and Varsity Boys and Girls Track coach at Christian School of the Desert until 2004. After moving back home to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, she was employed at the Hannahville Indian Reservation in Wilson, Michigan where she was the Community Health Educator until 2006. Jill then worked at Mid Peninsula School in Rock, Michigan as the K – 10 Physical Education and Health Teacher as well as coached Varsity Girls basketball, and Varsity Boys track and field. Jill obtained her Master of Science Degree in Physical Education from Emporia State University, Emporia, Kansas in 2008. In 2010, Jill moved with her family to Knoxville , Tennessee where she taught K-5 Physical Education and was a Mentor teacher at East Knox County Elementary School. She was also a Mentor to student athletes with diagnosed learning disabilities at the University of Tennessee until 2013. This position is what instilled a desire in her to help students at the college level be successful and earn their college degree. Jill currently resides in Brookings with her husband, Casey and their three children, Madelyn, Claire and Andrew. Together with her family she enjoys being active and riding their horses.

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Sylvia Lasley - University of South Dakota


Sylvia Lasley is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and is the JumpStart Advisor for the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD.  She graduated from Crow Creek High School in Stephan, SD in 1999.  She then went on to obtain her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in 2003 from Fort Lewis College and received her MA in Human Services from Sinte Gleska University in 2007.  Her focus since then has been working with various age groups in the field of mental health, substance abuse issues of prevention/intervention and educational guidance counseling.  She believes in creating tools for student success to assist in their education and overall well-being. 

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​Leon Leader Charge - Access Advisor



Leon Leader Charge is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Rosebud S.D. and also a part of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Pine Ridge, S.D. Leon holds a Bachelor of Science Addiction Studies from the University of South Dakota, with an emphasis in treatment and prevention continuum. Leon has experience in psychological first aid, co-occurring mental health disorders, 12 core functions of a substance abuse counselor, evidence based best practice theories and public health models, facilitation/consultation, national policy formation, advocacy at the state and national level, and recently completed a research project funded by the NIDA. He has recently successfully completed an internship (2013) @ SAMHSA’s CSAT & an internship @ SAMHSA’S CMHS (2015), Rockville, MD and was a co-facilitator, planning committee, and special events committee member for 2014 SAMHSA’s Native Youth Conference. Leon has recently gained tribal technical assistance experience on a national level.

Leon has an interest in helping tribal communities, expanding culturally appropriate evidence based best practices, expanding tribal research, history, Lakota & Native American culture, tribal law and treaty, formation of federal/tribal policy, suicide prevention, and the betterment of all tribal nations and communities. Currently Leon works as an Access Advisor for Jump Start, a program that focuses on Native American college recruitment and retention in South Dakota’s public post-secondary institutions.


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​Deb Thorstenson - Project Manager


Deb Thorstenson has worked in the prevention field for over 40 years, beginning with conducting National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) training programs for the State of South Dakota.  She has worked in youth alternative programs and developed and conducted a wealth of presentations, workshops and training programs on a variety of topics including communication, interpersonal relationships, stress, health promotion, suicide, alcohol and other drug issues, team building, facilitation, and many more.  She was the founder and director of the South Dakota Teen Institute, a six-day training program for teams of high school students and their advisor on peer helping skills, including active listening, assessing situations, helping skills, referral skills, suicide, eating disorders, alcohol and drug issues, highway safety and other issues pertinent to young people.  She developed a similar program for college students at Northern State University (NSU) where she worked for 28 years before retiring in 2015 as the director of the counseling center. 

During her tenure at NSU, the high-risk drinking rate among students decreased by over 15%, utilizing environmental strategies promoted by Dr. Bill DeJong of the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug and Violence Prevention.  Deb also served as the Regional Coordinator for the U.S. Department of Education’s Network Addressing Collegiate Alcohol and Drug Issues providing technical assistance, workshops and training to postsecondary institutions in North Dakota, Nebraska and South Dakota on alcohol, and other drugs, and violence prevention.  The role morphed into the Regional Director for North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota when The Network restructured its regions to create more equitable regions and division of responsibilities for volunteers which happened while she served as chair the Executive Committee of The Network.   She has also worked with the South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault as an academic consultant guiding this statewide organization in addressing sexual violence in K-12 schools and colleges. This seasoned grant writer has managed over $10,000,000 of state and federal funds for prevention programs.  She currently serves on the South Dakota Department of Health’s Sexual Violence Prevention Planning Committee and the South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault’s steering committee for the South Dakota Victim Assistance Academy.

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