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

About the Author
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Tesina first started working as an intern for the Cherokee Phoenix after receiving the John Shurr Journalism Award in 2009. Later that year, Tesina received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and in 2010 joined the Phoenix staff as a reporter.    

In 2006, Tesina received an internship at The Forum newspaper in Fargo, N.D., after attending the American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. She also attended the AIJI summer program in 2007 and in 2009 she participated in the Native American Journalists Association student projects as a reporter. Tesina is currently a member of NAJA and the Investigative Reporters & Editors organization.
TESINA-JACKSON@cherokee.org • 918-453-5000 ext. 6139
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Tesina first started working as an intern for the Cherokee Phoenix after receiving the John Shurr Journalism Award in 2009. Later that year, Tesina received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and in 2010 joined the Phoenix staff as a reporter. In 2006, Tesina received an internship at The Forum newspaper in Fargo, N.D., after attending the American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. She also attended the AIJI summer program in 2007 and in 2009 she participated in the Native American Journalists Association student projects as a reporter. Tesina is currently a member of NAJA and the Investigative Reporters & Editors organization.

Education

BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
05/02/2015 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – While speaking at the Northeastern State University 43rd Annual Symposium on the American Indian, Cherokee actor Wes Studi said communication is the first step to bringing Native communities together to create change. “Make contact. Make communications. Start a dialogue of some kind and see what it is that you both want…and create something,” he said. “We don’t ever really get to know each other until we start working together on something. That’s usually what brings people together is task or a plan, a goal.” Studi, born in 1947 in Nofire Hollow, spoke only Cherokee until he was 5. He attended the Chilocco Indian Boarding School and later NSU. He began acting in the 1980s and since has performed in “Dances with Wolves,” “The Last of the Mohicans,” “Geronimo: An American Legend” and “Avatar.” Aside from acting, Studi is a stone carver, working primarily with soapstone and other soft stones. He also plays bass and guitar in his band Firecat of Discord with his wife. The band released its first self-titled CD in 1998 and was featured in the short film Bonnie Looksaway’s “Iron Art Wagon,” which Studi directed. Studi has also written two children’s books called “The Adventures of Billy Bean” and “More Adventures of Billy Bean.” The actor has won several First Americans in the Arts awards. In 2009, he won the Santa Fe Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2006, he won the Golden Boot Award, and in 2013, he was inducted into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s Hall of Great Western Performers. In 1972, Studi joined the American Indian Movement in which he participated in the Trail of Broken Treaties protest march in Washington, D.C. AIM was formed to address American Indian sovereignty, treaty issues, spirituality and leadership, while addressing incidents of police harassment and racism against Native Americans forced to move away from reservations and tribal culture. Studi said when the movement became more relaxed the AIM leaders went back to their tribal nations and became involved in reinvigorating their tribal institutions and governments. “And that’s what many of us came back to do,” he said. “I came back to the Cherokee and others went all over the United States and that, to me, I believe was a beginning of the kind of renaissance that we Indians have been going through since the mid-70s. I know it started before that in terms of the Cherokee tribal government rebuilding itself but at that point in time it was a slow process. “I think the reinvigoration started with students,” he added. “It started on campuses all across the United States and culminated I think to this day in what I believe to be a very good success rate that most tribes in the United States have enjoyed over the years.” When Studi returned to Oklahoma, he attended NSU and worked for the Cherokee Nation. He also helped restart a tribal newspaper and taught the Cherokee language in the tribe’s communities. Today, Studi works with the Indigenous Language Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico. But after learning about decreased funding of the NSU Cherokee Language Program and inadequate student housing, Studi said with growth there are always problems and people have to come together to solve their problems or they’re always going to remain as problems. “There’s going to be controversy in life and especially in an institution of higher learning where a lot of thinking goes on, a lot of people speaking different ways,” he said. “If your own efforts can’t do the max then let’s speak to someone. That’s the beginning of understanding and solving a problem, let’s speak to somebody about this.” Studi said he supports the idea of continuing to refund and rebuild the Cherokee language project that was started at NSU with help from the CN. “Those are some of the things I think that we as students, administrators of the university should take a look at,” he said. “Let’s all get along a little better here, and the idea is to first communicate with one another. Let’s see how we can make things operate a little smoother. Somehow, over the years, we have been able to make it work, maybe because we understand one another. I understand that we have differences in opinions about one another, but these don’t really have to matter as long as the surface works. The surface works by working within a society and working for the good.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/30/2015 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Foundation is now accepting applications for its ACT prep camp in June and the college-readiness camp in July. “These camps provide wonderful opportunities for our students to become better prepared for the next step in their academic journey,” Janice Randall, CNF executive director, said. “Working closely with our staff and university admissions counselors, students will gain valuable insight to help them set their goals and prepare for success.” The second annual ACT prep camp is June 8-13 at Northeastern State University. Rising juniors and seniors will receive 15 hours of intensive ACT prep instruction as well as college workshops focusing on admissions, financial aid and scholarships, essay writing and time management. CNF and NSU scholarships provide all food, lodging, materials and testing fees for the students. At the end of the weeklong camp, students will take the official ACT test. The deadline for applications to the ACT camp at NSU is May 15. The foundation is hosting the Cherokee College Prep Institute at the University of Central Oklahoma from July 12-17. The weeklong camp connects students with admissions counselors from across the U.S. to analyze, prepare and complete college applications, identify scholarship opportunities, and explore schools of interest. This year’s participating university faculty include the University of Arkansas, University of Central Arkansas, University of Central Oklahoma, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Northeastern State University, Oklahoma State University, University of Oklahoma, University of Pennsylvania, Rogers State University, Stanford University, Bacone College and Yale University. The deadline for applications to college prep camp is June 1. Both applications are available online at <a href="https://cherokeenation.academicworks.com" target="_blank">https://cherokeenation.academicworks.com</a>. For more information, contact Randall at <a href="mailto: jr@cherokeenationfoundation.org">jr@cherokeenationfoundation.org</a>or call CNF at 918-207-0950.
BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
04/30/2015 12:00 PM
NORMAN, Okla. – For the sixth year, Sequoyah High School students attended the spring Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association drama competition at the University of Oklahoma where they competed in the Class 4A Division. Nearly seven years ago Amanda Ray starting teaching a drama/public speaking and debate class at Sequoyah that offers students a chance to work on their public speaking or acting skills. Ray’s drama class allows students to learn theater history and work with wigs, costumes and makeup. In the duet and solo acting class, students pick different skits from plays and productions to perform. “For me as a drama teacher it means I’m helping them get prepared for auditions for outside of high school because a lot of them take monologues, a humorous piece and a dramatic piece, and anytime you’re going to audition for anything, a play, a film, auditions for college theater departments, you need two good monologues,” Ray said. Students start rehearsing monologues in the fall. A monologue is a sketch performed by one actor. However, some students perform in dramatic duets, which is usually a skit from a serious play. SHS senior Garrett Million and sophomore Kylie Guthrie performed a piece from “Danny and the Deep Blue Sea” for their dramatic duet, which they won state runner-up during the April 9-11 competition. “It was really fun,” Guthrie said. “I love competing at state. It’s always fun. You always meet a lot of people.” Million, who was recently accepted into New York University in New York City, said they started rehearsing the duet in January and went to the first competition in February. To participate in drama competitions, the school pays membership dues so its drama club can compete in eight competitions, or qualifying tournaments, throughout the year in an effort to get to regionals, then eventually state. “They have to place first, second or third at a qualifying tournament before they can even go to regionals, and at regionals they have to place first, second or third before they can go to state. So it’s highly competitive,” Ray said. This was Million’s fourth year competing. He said it takes a lot of hard work. “This was my last competition,” he said. “I’ve been doing it for four years now and it’s very bittersweet. It’s weird, this being my last year, but I feel like it’s helped prepare me for the future. It takes a lot of hard work to be able to do this and to be good at it. You have to have a drive for it.” SHS sophomore Bretly Crawford attended state for the first time and performed the “Drama Bug,” which is about a young boy introduced to theater and different characters by a drama teacher. Performing the “Drama Bug” involves several character changes. Although he did not make it to the finals rounds in the state competition, Crawford said he enjoyed it because it’s a learning experience. “I went to state. It was absolutely lovely,” he said. “I always love looking for different ways to portray something like a character.” Aside from the competition and learning monologues, Ray said the one thing she wants her students to take with them is confidence. “Confidence, especially in college,” she said. “Most of my kids, if they want to do this at the competitive level they want to do something with it when they are out of high school.” The students also placed second in academic achievement out of 22 schools. Along with competitions, every year the drama students perform in a talent or variety show in the fall and a musical in the spring. Some past musicals include “The Wizard of Oz,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Grease.” This year, the school will perform “Spectacular, Spectacular! A Night of Diversity,” which will be a variety show at 7 p.m. on May 14-15 at SHS.
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter
04/30/2015 08:43 AM
MURPHY, Texas – Cherokee Nation citizen Luci Schement believes wrestling is a sport of strategy and individual strength in which you have to depend on yourself. Using strategy and individual strength, the 18-year-old high school senior from Plano East High School won the 2015 University Interscholastic League Texas 6A Champion in the 119-pound weight class at a state meet in Garland in February. “I was very confident going into the state meet. I had wrestled many of the girls at the tournament before so I was familiar with many of my opponents. That being said, I was also extremely nervous,” she said. “I had previously taken second place at the state tournament my sophomore and junior years so I did not want to come up short in my senior year. In my mind, I had to be confident. I had to trust that my wrestling skills were good enough and that I had put in enough work to win. This was my last chance so I just wanted to give it everything that I could.” In March, she competed at 117 pounds in the 2015 Folk Style Nationals in Oklahoma City and placed fifth. Because of her rank, she earned the title high school All-American. She said competing in nationals “was really scary.” “I had never competed in a folk style national tournament before so I guess I felt like I lacked the experience that others did. Also, the tournament was huge. I had never seen that many girl wrestlers in one place before,” she said. “It was exciting too because I was able to wrestle girls from other states which I had not really done before. I pinned the girl I wrestled in my fifth-place match so that was a really awesome way to finish the tournament and my season. My coach said, ‘to be able to count on one hand how you rank in the nation is just incredible.’” She said she was encouraged to try wrestling during her freshman year by her older sister who had wrestled in high school. “I had played sports like softball, volleyball and basketball before ninth grade. My freshman year I played volleyball and my sister was encouraging me to try wrestling so that year I joined the team and loved it,” she said. Schement said she appreciates wrestling because it makes her think, and she has found that being a female wrestler comes in handy when playing Cherokee stickball. “Wrestling is a sport where you have to think and strategize a lot, all on your own. You have to know when to be offensive and when to be defensive. Wrestling is a sport where you cannot rely on other people for anything, so it’s up to you to know what to do in different situations. You have to be able to read your opponent’s motions and know how to react based on that,” she said. “I think that’s really cool.” Along with being a great athlete, Schement excels in the classroom. She has been accepted to the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas where she will study aerospace engineering. She has been awarded a four-year UT Presidential Scholarship. She said she has have always loved math and cosmology. “I took an intro-to-engineering class in middle school where we built model elevators, designed furniture and learned how everyday mechanisms like streetlights or automatic doors operated. After that, I was hooked. I love knowing how things work and being able to fix/build things on my own,” she said. “For me, aerospace engineering is a combination of both cosmology and engineering. I will be able build rockets and planes that can be used to study the universe.” After graduating she said she wants to work for SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corporation), NASA or Virgin Galactic, a spaceflight company. “To be completely honest, my hope is that companies like Google and Yahoo will begin their own space programs, and I will be able to help in the start up and development of these programs,” she said. Wherever she goes she will take her Cherokee heritage with her. “My grandmother and her siblings were discriminated against in their youth, so she always taught us to take pride in being a part of the Cherokee tribe, but to also be kind and accepting of others because of it. For me, being a Cherokee means being proud of who I am,” she said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/26/2015 04:00 PM
CLAREMORE, Okla. –The Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club’s scholarship applications are now available. The scholarship is for graduating seniors and is designated for the upcoming 2015-16 school year. IWPC sponsors 10 Cherokee students who are entering college with a $600 per academic year scholarship or endowment. Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis. Students must be enrolled full-time at an accredited school in order to qualify. Applications will be received from June 1 to July 31. For more information, call 918-798-0771 or visit <a href="http://www.iwpclub.org" target="_blank">www.iwpclub.org</a>.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter
04/26/2015 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Northeastern State University’s 43rd annual Symposium on the American Indian, held April 14-18, presented the large crowd that attended with information on Native issues and helped spread the importance of Native American languages, arts and cultures. Center for Tribal Studies Interim Director Alisa Douglas (Seminole) said she was happy with the event, with its “Children: Seeds of Change” theme. “We had good attendance throughout the whole week and a lot of great feedback from our keynote presenters,” she said. “There were a lot of topics and issues that were brought up that a lot of people could relate to. In passing, I heard some individuals sharing their personal stories or some experiences that they may have had and how they could relate to what was mentioned during those sessions.” She said two of the more popular events were Cherokee actor Wes Studi’s keynote presentation and the American Indian Symposium Film Series showing of “Ronnie Bodean,” which stars Studi. After the screening of “Ronnie Bodean” Studi and Steven Judd, the director and producer of the film, answered questions from the audience. “That drew a pretty big crowd,” Douglas said. Douglas said she was surprised of the turnout that the symposium’s powwow because it was the same night as The Azalea Powwow in Muskogee. The Azalea Powwow is held in conjunction with the Azalea Festival. Both powwows took place on April 18. “We thought that we wouldn’t have that many in number, but we had a really good turnout,” she said. Douglas said this was her first year being interim director for the Center for Tribal Studies and main organizer for the symposium. She said she was able to succeed with the help of others and those before her. “In the past, when Dr. (Phyllis) Fife was the director here. She was a great mentor, and she showed me the ropes. We have an American Indian Heritage Committee, so those who are really active with the committee help out tremendously. The students really help out as well,” she said. “With that support and the community support and volunteers it makes the planning and organization a lot smoother.”