The Citizen Potawatomi Nation awarded the 2023 Michael John Kennedy Scholarship to Bourassa family member and University of North Carolina student Casimir Szupica.

In the essay he wrote to apply for the scholarship, Szupica talked about the history of Potawatomi warriors through history and how they have influenced and molded CPN.

Headshot of a man in U.S. Army fatigues in front of an American flag.
Casimir Szupica (Photo provided)

“The Potawatomi dedication to their warrior skills is an example of continuous self-improvement, even to the present day,” he wrote. “As I viewed the online Potawatomi Veterans Memorial and began to search for my own family members, I was struck by the number of Potawatomi who followed and continue to follow the tradition of the Wédasé. Their duty to their country and selfless service is a great credit to the CPN and the tradition of the Wédasé.”

He also discussed his own family members, including his grandfather, Clark Richard McCauley, who served during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and his uncle, Timothy Quinlin McCauley, who served in Vietnam.

“Hearing stories about them and their service, especially as my grandfather died before I was born, encouraged me to join the Army and be a part of the tradition of the Potawatomi Warrior. One day, following their footsteps, I hope I can be called Wédasé,” he wrote.

Szupica grew up in Malburn, Pennsylvania, where he went to school and joined Boy Scouts.

Now a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he is studying geology with plans to graduate in the spring and commission into the United States Army as a second lieutenant in the chemical corps.

The interest in geology, however, goes back to his childhood.

“When I was a kid, I really liked dinosaurs, and geology is one of the ways to do that,” he said, adding that he did some paleontology work in Montana a couple of summers ago. “I don’t know if I’d like to pursue that further when I’m out of the military, but I’m keeping my options open.”

For now, he’s hoping to be stationed in Korea as his first duty station, and then maybe at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.

“I hope as a first lieutenant to either serve as a chemo (a chemo being short for chemical officer) in the 75th Ranger Regiment or on a chemical reconnaissance attachment, which is attached to a special forces group,” he said.

Szupica isn’t sure if he’ll make a career in the military or pursue other paths, such as with the U.S. Geological Survey or working for FEMA, but ultimately, he would like to buy land in West Virginia and start a farm.

“It’s a good combination of cheap land and not that many people, and also, the weather has a distinct four seasons. You’re up in the mountains, so you get a good amount of snow, and I’ve always liked snow,” he said.

The Michael John Kennedy Scholarship is funded by the estate of Army veteran and CPN member Michael Kennedy. It is open to college juniors and seniors and welcomes children and grandchildren of veterans to apply.

Charles Lee, assistant director of the CPN Department of Education, said the winner of the scholarship is chosen by an independent review committee that reviews essays by metrics such as mechanics, relevance and impact.

“Casimir’s story really stood out to them because of his family’s long history of service and his way of folding that into Potawatomi values and how he is continuing that tradition,” Lee said.

“I’d just like to express my gratitude for everything that CPN has done for the past four years,” Szupica said. “It’s definitely helped me out a lot.”

For more information about the MJK Scholarship, or to apply, visit