Education Services to address student dropout rate

BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
12/22/2011 08:25 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation lost more than $500,000 in scholarship money after losing 318 CN scholarship recipients during the 2010-11 academic school year, the period for which the latest figures are available.

“We lost about 318 students between fall (20)10 and the end of spring (20)11,” Education Services Group Leader Dr. Neil Morton said. “Those students would average, because some are graduate students or part-time, they would average about $1,600 a piece. So we take 318 times $1,600 and that would be the actual loss. And we call it a loss because it is a loss to us unless the students transfer out of state or unless they drop out for a while and then come back and finish up their degree.”

In fall 2010, the tribe supplied scholarships to 2,732 students ranging from undergraduate freshman level to graduate school level. CN officials said the largest number of dropouts is at the freshman level, losing 185 freshmen during the 2010-11 year.

“Students have a difficult time managing their time when they enter college, and for most of them it’s their first time away from home, and it’s just a big step for that freshman student,” Morton said.

Education records show that 89 sophomores and 44 juniors who received CN scholarships dropped out during the 2010-11 academic year. Once the students become seniors, the dropout numbers are slim, Morton said.

Some CN scholarship funds come from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but most of it comes from tribal funds, Morton said. Once the student drops out, CN doesn’t get that money back.
“If the student drops out before the legal dropout period of the university, then we get the balance of funds returned,” Morton said. “Usually the student drops out after the second nine weeks, after the refund policy has already elapsed by the university.”
After conducting a phone survey of some of the scholarship recipients, Education Services found that the biggest reason for students dropping out was bad grades.
“The other reason that ranked high enough that it’s a concern of ours, they just didn’t turn in their papers for second semester, didn’t turn in their community service hours or forgot to send a transcript in and therefore did not receive funding,” Morton said.

Other reasons included students obtaining full-time employment and family illnesses and issues.

To address these issues and keep students in school, Education Services officials plan to assign a contact person to each scholarship recipient and will be visiting several universities throughout the spring 2012 semester.

“That will be a new service that we’re providing so that students who are scholarship students or students who are just interested in scholarships…there will be a person who they can talk to on a one-to-one basis,” Morton said. “And we are asking the universities that comprise the largest number of our enrollment in Oklahoma, their counseling centers to see if they can legally provide us documentation on the students’ progress. We would like to be a part of their intervention strategy.”

Morton anticipates that with the efforts that have been initiated the dropout rate will be significantly less.

“We think this needs to be a total effort on part of the Cherokee Nation and individual employees that know students that are in college to encourage them to stay because that first year is a social adjustment as well as an academic adjustment,” Morton said.

tesina-jackson@cherokee.org • 918-453-5000, ext. 6139

Education

BY STAFF REPORTS
05/19/2016 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizens Jackson Wells and Ashlyn King are, respectively, the valedictorian and salutatorian for Sequoyah High School’s class of 2016. The school’s graduation is at 6:30 p.m. on May 20 at the Place Where They Play gym. “This year’s graduating class has outstanding leaders who will go on to do many great things,” Sequoyah Superintendent Leroy Qualls said. “We are proud of their accomplishments and wish them a bright future as they move into their next journey.” Wells, 18, of Tahlequah, has a 4.57 GPA and is attending Brown University this fall. “My grandpa has always been my biggest motivation because he always believed in me,” Wells said. “He is the wisest person I have ever met and everything he has said has always driven me.” Wells completed 36 hours of concurrent college courses at Northeastern State University while in high school. He is also in National Honor Society, student council, academic team, chess club, yearbook, drama club and band. King, 18, of Tahlequah, has a 4.26 GPA and is attending the University of Oklahoma this fall. King is a member of NHS and drama club. She is also the percussion section leader in the school’s marching band and president of Students Working Against Tobacco. King has completed 17 hours of concurrent college courses at NSU and is taking six hours of summer classes at OU. “I will really miss marching band,” King said. “One of the most memorable moments I will always have is during my sophomore year we won a trophy for best drum line of the year in a competition and the trophy was about 4 feet tall. It was awesome.” King plans to study biochemistry and Wells is undecided, but hopes to one day be a professor. The class of 2016 has earned $1.36 million in college scholarships, had two Gates Millennium Scholars and 33 seniors complete at least 12 hours of concurrent college courses.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/17/2016 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Sequoyah Schools Summer Feeding Program will kick off on May 23. The program provides free breakfast and lunch to children 18 years old and younger. The program is set to run until July 8 and will be provide meals Monday through Thursday. Breakfast is served at 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. while lunch is served from 11 a.m. to noon. Adults may also enjoy the food and purchase breakfast for $2 and lunch for $4. Sequoyah’s cafeteria is located at 17091 S. Muskogee Ave. For more information, call 918-453-5190.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/13/2016 12:30 PM
CLAREMORE, Okla. – The Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club will sponsor 10 Cherokee students’ with a $600 per academic year scholarship or endowment. The scholarship applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis for full-time students enrolled in an accredited institution of higher education, according to a release. Applications must be received by July 31. For more information regarding eligibility requirements, call Vicki at 918-798-0771 or visit <a href="http://www.iwpclub.org" target="_blank">www.iwpclub.org</a>.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
05/13/2016 08:15 AM
STILLWATER, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Megan Baker, an 18-year-old sophomore at Oklahoma State University, was recently crowned as the university’s Miss American Indian 2016-17. With the title comes responsibility and Baker said she is ready for it. “I was filled with pride to be chosen as a Native American representative for Oklahoma State University and was anxious to make a difference in my community,” she said. Baker said earning the title has led her to “countless” opportunities. “I recently have been chosen to attend the sixth annual Native Women’s Leadership Academy, along with (CN citizen) Cierra Fields, to represent Cherokee Nation. It means that I am going to be a representative of the Cherokee Nation and my school,” she said. Baker said she is involved with the school’s Native American Student Association, which she helps with different events such as the annual powwow. “We put on the annual powwow there in Stillwater. This year I helped with that for about 12 hours,” she said. “We also have Indian taco sales, which help us put on different programs.” Baker is a psychology major and plans to minor in sociology. She said she eventually hopes to become a criminal profiler or criminal psychologist and work with the FBI. “It has always been my dream to be an investigator of sorts and helping people is just rewarding in itself,” she said. Baker said before entering college she was a 2015 co-valedictorian at Locust Grove High School. “It was just the greatest honor that I could have received from Locust Grove. I tried so hard academically, taking all honors courses and being a concurrent student that it felt like I got the recognition and felt like they noticed my hard work as a student,” she said. Baker said being a CN citizen not only makes her a strong person, but also leader. “Our people are so strong and have been through so much and have come out of the ashes to become one of the best nations, in my book,” she said. “I think that there are so many great young representatives that are doing amazing things for our Nation, and to me I believe that to be a citizen, means to be a strong person and a strong leader.”
BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
05/12/2016 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Columbia University in New York recently accepted Tahlequah High School senior Miriam Reed for the fall semester. To pay for that Ivy League education, the school is giving the Cherokee Nation citizen an annual scholarship of $73,000 for four years. She is a Gates Millennium scholar to boot. With hopes of majoring in environmental engineering, Reed committed to the school in April. Several universities, including California Berkley, Notre Dame, Pennsylvania and Arkansas, accepted her college applications. She narrowed her options to Berkley and Columbia before choosing Columbia. That decision was affirmed after attending a paid trip to the school’s Engineering Days in April. “Everyone there was so welcoming, and they made it feel like a place that I wanted to spend the next four years,” she said. “Your admission counselors knew everything about you. It just really felt like home.” Reed said the Columbia scholarship would cover all aspects of her life there, including personal expenses and travel. Her Gates Millennium Scholarship, she said, would allow her to focus on school and not work. “That gives me the opportunity to study abroad. I don’t have to do a work study program, so I can focus purely on my school,” she said. “It covers 10 years of a college education, if I wanted to go get my master’s (degree) elsewhere. I don’t have to be pressured into staying at a school for four years…it also gives me the opportunity to lessen my grant that I got from Columbia to help someone else provide for their school as well.” Her long-term goals include earning a degree in environmental engineering and partaking in alternative energy projects for underdeveloped areas of the world. “I’m looking forward to joining their (Columbia’s) engineering club that they have there. They go out and they get to help different countries with water filtration systems and helping build bridges and just like really helping countries that are less privileged than the country we live in,” she said. In high school, Reed was involved in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, dance team, National Honor Society, student council, science club, academic team, Mu Alpha Theta and Cherokee club. She also took Advance Placement classes in literature, U.S. history, calculus, physics and statistics. “I’m in the top 3 percent. I’m ranked No. 4 (in a class of about 300),” she said. “As the first of my mother’s children to go to college it means a lot to me that I was able to excel so greatly.” Reed said she’s dreamed of attending college outside of Oklahoma and that opportunities are more abundant elsewhere. “Once you get out you can see all the different diversity and the other options that are in this country for us, and I believe that once you gain different ideas and different opportunities from other places, when you come home it makes you appreciate home much more, and it gives you something different to bring back to your town.” Reed said. Other than her home, family and friends, she said she would miss the “small town life.” “I’m going to miss getting to walk down the street and see downtown. There’s not going to be the tight-knit sense of community that Tahlequah is. There’s going to be so much more people. It’s going to feel like that small town vibe is what I’m going to miss the most,” she said. She added that students like her should strive for higher educations. She also offered advice for when interviewing at colleges: be yourself. “Don’t feel like you have to act like someone else. Just be genuine and be who you are and let them see your character. They’re not looking to see that you know these large vocabulary words. They want to know that you’re a human being that has a passion for something. They’re looking to see that you’re involved in things and that you care about something.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/10/2016 01:15 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The next Cherokee Speakers Bureau is from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on May 12 in the Community Ballroom located behind the Restaurant of the Cherokee on the Tribal Complex. All Cherokee speakers are invited to attend. Officials said attendees could bring side dishes or desserts. For more information, call Edna Jones at 918-453-5151, John Ross at 918-453-6170 or Roy Boney Jr. at 918-453-5487.