Native American scholarship helps rectify racial disparity

October 22, 2012

A report from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) shows that less than 1 percent of the American collegiate community consists of Native Americans and Alaskans, according to the Press-Enterprise.

In an effort to put more Native Americans in higher education programs, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians awarded four hopeful Californian students a total of $160,000 in financial aid for college. The news source said members of any of the 100 tribes in California can apply to the foundation's Rodney T. Matthews Jr. Scholarship.

"With this year’s program, the Rodney T. Matthews Jr. Scholarship has provided nearly $280,000 to students as part of Morongo’s ongoing effort to reverse the trends that have left Native Americans as the most underrepresented and underserved group in colleges and universities," tribal chairman Robert Martin told Press-Enterprise.

In addition, the DOE recently announced that, as part of the State Tribal Education Partnership, it has provided almost $2 million in scholarships for college to individuals of Native American and Alaskan heritage.

In a statement, U.S. secretary of education Arne Duncan explained that all youngsters deserve an equal opportunity for a good education, but members of the Native American and Alaskan tribal communities should have more say in how resources are implemented to ensure the next generation receives the best opportunities for schooling.

Oxford graduates its first ever female Native American
In other news relating to the progress of Native American youth enrolling in Universities, Kelsey Leonard, originally from upstate New York and a member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, recently became the first woman with Native American roots to earn a diploma from the University of Oxford. According to the news source, the Oxford Student, Leonard earned a master of science degree in water science, policy and management from the prestigious U.K. school.

"I hope that by seeing people like me coming to places like Oxford, young Native Americans will feel at ease making that choice," she told the college news provider.

The article continues to state that, aware of what is described as her "symbolic importance" to Native Americans, Leonard wore traditional ceremonial accessories to her pre-graduation.

The young woman's undergraduate studies were completed at Harvard, where she penned a dissertation titled "Water Quality for Native Nations: Achieving a Trust Responsibility."

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