Name: Freddy Gipp
Major: Journalism: Strategic Communications
We may best remember Freddy Gipp as the student who the secret service denied access to stand behind President Obama last year. But Gipp actually made a presence on campus before this fluke. Gipp advocates for Native American culture, which led to his major, strategic communications, and changes to Student Senate policies.
Gipp said he has always been close to his Kiowa-Apache roots. He started grass dancing at a young age and in high school competed in different states. “It’s a good way to kind of get away and get to see my friends across the country,” Gipp said.
Although Gipp has lived in Lawrence his entire life, his father comes from a reservation in North Dakota and his mother from a mainly Native American town in Oklahoma. Gipp has ties all over the Midwest.
Gipp’s advocacy with the First Nations Student Association defines his time at KU, he said. He joined the association his freshman year, but the next year became president. Gipp said the new responsibility opened his eyes to the struggles of Native Americans.
“I wasn’t really subjected to what most of the people were, I’ve been pretty sheltered my entire life,” Gip said. “At first it was hard for me to relate, but as I started traveling, I saw so many different things.”
Gipp helped with the new diversity inclusion chair in student senate, and attributes his interest in helping strengthen the voices of minorities to his beginnings with the First Nations Student Association.
Gipp said a big inspiration for him has been Caleb Bobo. Bobo attends KU and founded the Black Men’s Initiative and also is active in Student Senate. Gipp said Bobo pushed initiatives for black students that inspired him to work similarly for Native American students.
“His advocacy for African Americans, looking at his initiative he pushed last year really inspired me,” Gipp said. “I love his work.”
Gipp’s hopes one day to help Native American students become aware of opportunities available to them. He said he didn’t know how he was going to do that yet, whether through a degree in higher education or more grass-roots work. So far, he said he thinks his work has helped others.
“It’s been nice to know that my influence has been able to push for change,” Gipp said.