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EBCI represents at AISES Annual Conference
MILWAUKEE, Wisc. – The recent 42nd American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) Annual Conference in Milwaukee, Wisc. included the following representatives from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI): Yona Wade, Tracy Monteith, and Katherine Jacobs and representation from the New Kituwah Academy, Jessica Metz. The AISES National Conference has become the premier event for Native American Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) professionals and students and attracts over 2,000 attendees from across the country.
During the Annual Conference, the Winds of Change magazine featured the EBCI on their annual list of “25 Native STEM Enterprises To Watch” for the work they are doing to support cultural preservation, language revitalization, and the contributions they continue to make toward programs supporting STEM within the EBCI community.
Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed makes one sentiment clear, “We are proud of all our STEM-related employees.”
In a world where technology continues to expand connections to ancestors, traditions and ceremonies need to stand stronger than ever, and the EBCI is bringing STEM technology to that challenge according to Sneed, “Preserving our culture and traditions is paramount to the future success of our Tribe.”
New Kituwah Academy Science teacher, Jessica Metz, received the distinguished honor of becoming a lifelong member known as Sequoyah Fellows. AISES Sequoyah Fellows are recognized for their commitment to “mission in STEM and to the American Indian community.”
Alicia Mitchell, a Cherokee Nation citizen, who is the newly positioned senior development officer for AISES, states, “Jessica’s passion for the future of the EBCI students through her instruction is astounding, she continues to set the bar and is a role model for other tribal nations as her students are producing science projects in the Cherokee Language. It was truly a privilege and honor to gift her with a Sequoyah medal.”
Katherine Jacobs, an EBCI tribal member and the daughter of Brad Jacobs and Mitchell, has been elected to serve as the Region 3 Representative for the AISES. She is currently studying finance at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz. and will be graduating May 11. This appointment gives Jacobs the opportunity to be an ambassador for the EBCI and collaborate with other native students on a national level.
Jacobs attended as the AISES Region 3 Representative saying, “As the Region 3 Student Representative, it is my duty to lead the planning and execution of the regional conference, notify each chapter of crucial information and serve as a liaison for the chapters and Board of Directors. The AISES community is a true family network that provides countless opportunities and support to indigenous people in STEM fields. I aspire to use my networks from AISES to better serve the EBCI community while stimulating our youth to do the same with the aid of education and organizations such as AISES.”
The Conference provided social and professional networking, mentoring, research, and nationally recognized speakers. It also offers thought-provoking discussions on important current STEM issues such as diversity and inclusion in STEM related fields, as well as excellent career resources and traditional cultural activities.
During the Traditional Honors Banquet, the EBCI was named as the recipient of the Tribal Partner Service Award for their gracious contributions and financially investing in the 2019 AISES Leadership Summit.
Mitchell includes, “The EBCI community really came through on this event providing support, professional tribal members conducting leadership sessions and being incredible hosts to our guests.”
The inaugural Indigenous Excellence Award that acknowledges individuals who have done substantial work to advance program and opportunities for Indigenous students and professionals in STEM education and careers was awarded to Yona Wade, an EBCI tribal member who has dedicated 10 years to the development of native youth and supporting the educators at Cherokee Central Schools.
“It is an absolute pleasure to serve my Cherokee people,” said Wade. “I have yet to have a day where I didn’t want to go to work. Passion is what drives me.Passion for my work and passion for my people.”
As Mitchell has transitioned into the role of a staff member for AISES, her prior service did not go unrecognized at the Traditional Honors Banquet. Her years of service and contributions of supporting STEM across Indian Country and within the EBCI community was instrumental in the development of the EBCI being one of the first two tribal chapters, the placement of three EBCI student representatives, and bringing culturally based curriculum programming into the Cherokee Central School system through grants funded by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation.
She is dedicated to this work and feels that her position at AISES allows her to pursue many of her passions including; working for Native people, promoting education, enhancing the tribal workforce, supporting economic development, promoting tribal sovereignty, and increasing diversity in organizations and institutions throughout North America.
The collaboration between the EBCI students and AISES strengthens as they received a grant for a project called, Strengthening Computer Science Curriculum for CCS, from the Cherokee Preservation Foundation. This funding provided students and faculty from Cherokee High School the opportunity to attend the 42nd Annual Conference. Cherokee Central Schools’ staff members, Scott Freeman, Robert Rosener, Ronda Denton, Layno Carla attended along with the following students: Howie Wallace, Brandon Wolfe, Dorian Reed, Toby Johns, Caedance Smith, Phoebe Rattler, Jaden Armachain, and Tehya Littlejohn. The students participated in the interactive STEM activities while the faculty attended training sessions. Attendance to the AISES Annual Conference was made possible through funding from the Cherokee Preservation Foundation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Nominations are currently being accepted for all AISES Professional of the Year Awards who will be honored at the 2020 AISES National Conference on Oct. 15-17 in Spokane, Wash.
Completed online nomination packets are due May 15 at 11:59 p.m. MDT. Incomplete nomination packets will not be accepted. For more information see: https://forms.aises.org/2020-poy Want to know more about the AISES professional awards program? Contact Kellie Jewett-Fernandezkjfernandez@aises.org or (720) 758-9679.
– Alicia Mitchell, AISES senior development officer
Lumina Foundation Grants the American Indian College Fund $650K to Inform College Affordability, Tribal College Credentialing and Sustainability
To better understand the factors limiting Native Americans’ access and success in higher education, Lumina Foundation has granted the American Indian College Fund $650,000 for a two-part, 30-month project.
The first part will determine how affordability of higher education factors into college degree attainment for Native students and how affordability practices impact the long-term sustainability of tribal colleges and universities. The second part will frame how tribal colleges and universities determine high quality credentials and implement teaching and learning practices that contribute to attainment. Currently research identifies affordability as a central cause of college student attrition, however, no research to date has demonstrated the impact of college affordability on the low rates of American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) student college completion. Tribal colleges and universities (TCUs), tribally chartered higher education institutions located on or near Indian reservations, enroll 11% of AIAN students (approximately 15,000) seeking a college degree.
The American Indian College Fund (the College Fund) will research whether and how access, affordability, and the rising cost of attending college, coupled with institutional structural challenges and high rates of poverty in American Indian and Alaska Native communities (26.8% compared to 14.6% of the overall population), influence the completion rates of AIAN students.
The College Fund will also research how TCUs’ absorption of the cost of education to ensure AIAN student access impacts their sustainability.
The research will be conducted in collaboration with the National Native Scholarship Providers Working Group (NNSPWG), comprised of the College Fund and three national Native scholarship-providing organizations: the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), the American Indian Graduate Center (AIGC), the Indigenous Education Incorporated (IEI), and the College Fund. The collaboration will provide the College Fund access to a large, representative sample of AIAN college students attending both tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) and predominantly white two- and four-year institutions to examine college affordability for AIAN of both TCU and mainstream AIAN college students, graduates, and students who did not complete college.
To understand better how TCUs develop credentialed programs and how these credentials impact student success while influencing their sustainability as higher education institutions, the College Fund will also survey a sample of TCUs while engaging in detailed implementation with five TCUs to examine how they create credential programs and determine program success and outcomes. Specifically, this aspect of the project will explore how TCUs utilize state longitudinal data systems to determine the value of their programs; whether TCUs engage state economic forecasting studies to inform credential offerings; how TCUs are involved in their tribal governments’ economic development processes to ensure correct credentials for future tribal employment; and how TCUs measure if their credential offerings are meeting the needs of students (future, current and former), local/state employers, tribal and state policies, and their own institutions.
This research is meant to further Lumina’s goal of 60% of Americans holding degrees, certificates, or other high-quality post-secondary credentials by the year 2025 by raising the college completion rates of AIAN students. In addition, this research will assist Lumina’s efforts in achieving the goal by providing necessary evidence of the barriers that hinder AIAN completion so that they may be removed, while ensuring AIAN students are on a guided academic pathway leading to a high-quality credential; robust institutional data tracks the progress of AIAN students along their education path in real time and identifies problems they face in meeting learning goals; and targeted academic, social, and financial supports get students back and track and keep them on a path to academic completion.
The College Fund will produce and publish resulting reports from the work.
About the American Indian College Fund—Founded in 1989, the American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 30 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided $7.72 million in scholarships to 3,900 American Indian students in 2018-19, with nearly 137,000 scholarships and community support totaling over $221 million since its inception. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit www.collegefund.org.
About Lumina Foundation—Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. Lumina envisions a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials. The foundation’s goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy.
American Indian College Fund Promotes Emily White Hat to Vice President, Programs
Denver, Colo., September 24, 2019 — The American Indian College Fund has promoted Emily R. White Hat, J.D. to the position of Vice President, Programs. In her role as Vice President White Hat will support tribal colleges and universities to develop and implement projects and assists in capacity building to strengthen educational opportunities for Native students.
White Hat, who is a citizen of the Sicangu Lakota from the Aske Gluwipi Tiospaye and whose Lakota name is Nape Waste Win or “Good Hand Woman,” was born in Rosebud and grew up in St. Francis, South Dakota.
White Hat’s experience as a former firefighter, emergency medical technician, policy researcher, evaluator, and legal background have been vital to her work in program development and implementation, strategic planning, national outreach, qualitative research, writing, curriculum implementation, and evaluation with tribal nations and colleges using a capacity-building approach. She earned a J.D. and natural resources law certificate from the University of New Mexico School of Law. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in forestry with a concentration in fire science and a minor in rangeland ecology from Colorado State University, and an associate of arts degree in Lakota history and culture from Sinte Gleska University, a tribal university located on her home reservation.
In 2015, Emily was recognized by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development as one of the “Native American 40 Under 40” award recipients. Emily currently serves as a board member for the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation in Porcupine, South Dakota, a Lakota organization focused on creating systemic change through regenerative community development.
About the American Indian College Fund—Founded in 1989, the American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 30 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided 5,896 scholarships last year totaling $7.65 million to American Indian students, with more than 131,000 scholarships and community support totaling over $200 million since its inception. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.
For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit collegefund.org.
AISES Joins the US Census 2020 Urban Indian Leadership Circle in the State of Colorado
by Emerald Craig
The American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) began in 1977 with a vision for the next seven generations of Native people to be successful, respected, influential, and contributing members of our vast and ever-changing global community. The success of Native people is not solely represented by one organization, group, or society, but through the support of each other, we see that success.
One partnership AISES will be profoundly engaging over the next year is with representatives from the State of Colorado and the U.S. Census 2020 because the Decennial Census is happening in April 2020. The success of the U.S. Census can mean many things for Indian country in addition to population counts. The U.S. Census data influences how congressional seats are allocated, how federal money is distributed for programs like healthcare, housing and education, and where businesses will plan and build new stores.
The U.S. Census hosted the first Urban Indian Leadership Circle in Colorado in May 2019 in Denver, Colorado. AISES Director of Marketing and Communication Montoya Whiteman joined close to 30 American Indian and Alaska Native leaders who were certified as tribal partners, and to begin AISES’ role in assisting in outreach and support in reaching a successful 2020 U.S. Census. In the upcoming months, you will start to see U.S. Census 2020 information on the AISES website, in the Winds of Change magazine, Paths to Opportunities newsletters, and more.
The Native American Rights Fund along with former Zia Tribal Chairman and Census Tribal Coordinator for 12 states, and 19 tribes, Amadeo Shije, are leading the effort in Indian country for the U.S. Census 2020 with the campaign “Natives Count.” By visiting census.narf.org, you too can join the effort in keeping Indian country successful whether it is being hired for a job such as a census taker, recruiting assistant, office staff, and supervisory staff. Additional resources on how you can volunteer are also available at census.narf.org/.