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 WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter – @cp_wchavez
12/02/2016 08:00 AM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Kelley McCall is working on her dream of earning a psychology degree at the University of New Mexico with the help of a Cherokee Nation scholarship. McCall, 38, who has roots in the Tahlequah, Oklahoma, area, recently graduated from Central New Mexico Community College with four associate degrees, was on the dean’s list with a 3.9 grade point average and was accepted into UNM with a full scholarship for the fall. “Basically, I just took my life and did a 180 and went back to school later in life. I got four degrees in less than four years. I think that should inspire other Cherokees that it’s never too late. You can turn your life around. You can make something of yourself, and you can help your people in the process,” she said. After earning a psychology degree, she plans to attend graduate school before eventually going for a doctorate. At UNM she was accepted into the McNair Scholar Program, which will assist her with getting into graduate school and completing her research. She is working in a cultural cognition psychology lab where Native Americans are studied to determine how they can be helped. “One of the major complaints is that people are studying them, but nobody is offering a solution or help. Our whole lab is for cultural minorities, and we all are interested in research to help them, so that’s my main focus,” she said. McCall is helping to interview Native American elders ages 50 to 88 to gather information about their education to determine if they attended boarding schools or public schools and how much education they received. As an undergraduate student she is not conducting the actual interviews, but will be able to as a graduate student. “We’re getting their educational background and seeing how it affects them later in life, like their cognition, their opportunities, if they feel they got a good education or didn’t. So we’re trying to put that together to see how we can better educate Native American people to help them later in life,” she said. She said Native Americans from California to New Mexico are interviewed, including Cherokees living in the Albuquerque area. McCall said her goal is to work with Cherokees living in the area because she is Cherokee and that’s who she wants “to help the most.” “Any case where I’m helping a Native American, I’m going to take advantage of it,” she said. “That’s my main focus. Whatever I can do to help our people that’s what I want to do because I think that we’re so underrepresented, especially in the higher levels of education. I want to see what I can do to get us in higher levels of education.” McCall said the main reason she is able to attend UNM is because of a $2,000 CN higher education scholarship. “Instead of having to spend time working side jobs, I can actually spend more time in the research lab, so it helps me a lot and allows me to focus on my education. I still have to work, but I don’t have to make that my priority,” she said. McCall also said she learned about Cherokee traditions and culture while visiting family in Oklahoma. In Albuquerque, her mother, Deborah McCall, also a CN citizen, is involved with a satellite Cherokee community group that’s affiliated with the tribe’s Cherokee Community Outreach program. Kelley said her mother travels to Oklahoma annually for meetings with other Cherokee community groups in which they learn how to better organize their respective groups, learn about Cherokee culture and share and gather ideas from other community leaders. Kelley said at monthly meetings her mother shares information she’s gathered from the CN, and CN staff visit the Albuquerque Cherokee group to share cultural activities. “We’re learning a lot about our culture and heritage through that,” she said. “I feel like I’m part of a tradition that goes back a long way, that has solid roots, that has great fundamental values as far as family and helping each other. I feel really honored be a part of the Cherokee Nation.”
BY LINDSEY BARK
Staff Writer
11/25/2016 08:00 AM
CHELSEA, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Amy Milam, 17, a senior at Chelsea High School, is a placekicker for the school’s football team and the third female to play the sport for the Dragons. After one game into the season, the team needed a placekicker and the assistant coach asked if she wanted to try out because of her soccer ability. Milam attended practice for a week before officially joining the team. In her first game against Foyil, she kicked an extra point. “At first I don’t think the boys on the team really had faith in my abilities as a kicker. But after I made my first extra point they started accepting me as a team member, which made the fact that it is normally a male sport easier on me,” Milam said. Though Milam is not the first female to play on the football team, she is the first female to score. She said she has the support of her classmates and family. “The feedback from my fellow classmates, my town and other students from different towns that I didn't know was the amazing part about the whole experience. Everyone thought that it was really cool that not only was I a female player, but at the same time I was the cheer captain,” she said. “My family was a little nervous every time that I would go out onto the field to kick because of the possibility that I could be hit, especially because I’m very little, but overall they were my main support group and I love them so much for that.” Before adding football to the list, she already had a full schedule of activities in which she’s involved. “I have always done more than one sport at a time, so taking on football didn’t seem like that big of a change, time-management wise,” Milam said. “I run cross-country, play competitive soccer in Tulsa, football and cheer, so my life is very busy.” Academically, Milam is the top senior in her class taking on high school classes, college courses, vocational technology classes and being involved in her Baptist Collegiate Ministry group at Rogers State University. “I usually have three to four practices a day during the week day and then soccer games and (track) meets during the weekend. I spend a lot of time doing homework in the car, and normally I will stay up late, get up early, or use my lunch break to do homework. Pretty much when I’m not playing sports I’m studying,” she said. As for future goals, Milam said she wants to be a physical therapist and attend Oklahoma State University to obtain her bachelor’s degree before going to the University of Oklahoma to obtain a doctorate. “I know my life sounds busy, but I love being active and I believe that everyone should push themselves to achieve greatness. I never thought that I would be a football player, but I would not change a single thing about my senior year. I love my team, my coaches, my family, my friends and God. I would not be where I am today without them,” Milam said. Milam is also the great granddaughter of J.B. Milam, who President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed as CN principal chief in 1941.
BY STAFF REPORTS
11/23/2016 12:00 PM
WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Lawrence S. Roberts, who leads the Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs, on Nov. 2 tapped Cherokee Nation citizen Tony Dearman as the new Bureau of Indian Education director. Tony Dearman, a Cherokee Nation citizen, had served as the associate deputy director for bureau-operated schools since November 2015, where he helped implement the BIE reorganization and reform, overseeing 17 schools, four off-reservation boarding schools and one dormitory. Before that, Dearman served as the superintendent at Riverside Indian School, a BIE-operated boarding school, where he helped develop and plan a new academic high school building and two residential dormitories. Dearman earned an associate degree from Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma. He also received a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in school administration from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. He holds science, physical education, principal and superintendent certifications. As BIE director, Dearman will oversee all facilities providing schooling for nearly 50,000 American Indian and Alaska Native students from the country’s federally recognized tribes. He also oversees the deputy bureau director for school operations, chief academic officer and three associate deputy directors who are responsible for education resource centers serving 183 BIE-funded elementary and secondary day and boarding schools and peripheral dormitories located on 64 reservations in 23 states. The BIE also serves post-secondary students through higher education scholarships and support funding to 27 tribal colleges and universities and two tribal technical colleges. On the new leadership announcement, Roberts said, “Tony’s record as a senior leader in the BIE, in school administration, and in the classroom, demonstrates his passion to serve Indian Country and our children, and I know he will ensure that BIE’s progress continues to provide Native students the world class education that they deserve.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
11/18/2016 12:00 PM
WASHINGTON – Applications for the Indian Affairs Student Leadership Summer Institute, a 10-week paid internship for post-secondary Native students, are being accepted until Nov. 30. The Indian Affairs Student Leadership Summer Institute provides American Indian and Alaska Native post-secondary students with an opportunity to learn about federal policy and develop management and leadership skills within high-profile offices throughout Indian Affairs. Its mission is to engage and support the next generation of Native leaders in the federal government through an introduction to the government-to-government relationship between tribal nations and the United States. Through their experiences students will gain an understanding of how Indian Affairs carries out its trust responsibilities and how consultation with tribes guides policy development and implementation. The institute’s inaugural class consisted of 17 Native undergraduate and graduate students placed in the 12 Bureau of Indian Affairs regional offices and at the Bureau of Indian Education, the Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs and the White House Council on Native American Affairs where they worked on projects including environmental and natural resources, land management, social work and the 2016 White House Tribal Nations Conference. They also traveled to Rapid City, South Dakota, to attend a Tribal-Interior Budget Council meeting and around Washington, D.C., where they visited the departments of the Interior and Justice, the White House, U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court. American Indian and Alaska Native students currently enrolled in either undergraduate or graduate degree programs are encouraged to apply. Between 15-20 students will be selected to work in the Indian Affairs headquarters offices in Washington, D.C., and in BIA regional offices around the country. Applicants must meet the following criteria to apply: • Be a citizen of a federally recognized tribe, • Be currently enrolled and in good standing in an undergraduate or graduate degree program, • Be at least 18 years of age, and • Have completed at least two years of an undergraduate degree. The application requirements are: 1. Personal Statement (700 word limit): The statement should discuss the applicant’s interest in the Indian Affairs Student Leadership Summer Institute and how it fits into his or her future goals of serving Indian Country. It should also describe the applicant’s personal qualities or previous leadership experiences that will enhance the experience of other American Indian and Alaska Native program participants, and an area of her or his education, experience in a certain field of policy, cultural background/familiarity (close ties to region) or any other information that would help determine the applicant’s proper placement or secure a placement preference within a specific Indian Affairs office. 2. Resume: The resume should be no more than two pages in length. Include a list of education, honors and awards, work experience (including internships), school activities (clubs, research, presentations, etc.) or any community activities (volunteer activities, leadership roles). 3. Verification Form BIA 4432: Because preference in filling vacancies within Indian Affairs offices is given to qualified Indian candidates in accordance with the Indian Preference Act of 1934 (Title 25, USC, Section 472), an applicant must include Verification Form BIA-4432 with his or her application package prior to the closing date of the announcement, but only if claiming Indian preference on the application. Applicants selected under Indian preference will be appointed under Excepted Service, Schedule A, 213.3112 (a) (7) appointing authority. 4. Transcripts: A full set of unofficial transcripts from all institutions attended are required. They will be used to evaluate the level for which an applicant qualifies which will, in turn, determine the grade level and salary offered. 5. Assessment Questionnaire: Applicants will be required to submit an online assessment questionnaire. Click here for a preview of what questions will be asked. Applications are due no later than Nov. 30 and should be submitted through USAJobs.gov via <a href="https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/454414200#btn-req-docs" target="_blank">https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/454414200#btn-req-docs</a>. Send questions about the application to <a href="mailto: IA_Institute@bia.gov">IA_Institute@bia.gov</a>.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
11/15/2016 12:45 PM
TULSA, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Ryan Cooper, 29, a sophomore at Tulsa Community College, was recently inducted into Phi Theta Kappa’s Honor Society, which is a “by invitation only” society that honors academic success. “Being inducted into PTK’s Honor Society means recognition,” he said. “I maintained a 4.0 GPA since the beginning of college. I’ve made the president’s honor roll all three semesters so being inducted into the honor society was refreshing to see hard work pays off.” Cooper said his wife was also inducted into the society and they are going to school with the hopes of becoming either orthodontists or oral surgeons. “Going to school with my wife is a blessing. We take the same classes so we help each other along the way,” he said. Cooper said prior to going to college he was a police officer for the Wagoner Police Department but decided he wanted to go to school. “I was a police officer for a few years and then I decided I wanted to do something that could secure my children’s future,” he said. “My wife and I are doing this together so we hope to open a place one day.” He said if there are other people who are his age that want to attend college they should “go for it.” “I would like to tell them just go for it and don’t be afraid to ask for help,” he said. “There are a lot of opportunities for assistance through your college. Just stay on top of your classes as well.” <strong>A Student Spotlight features Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band or Eastern Band students whether they are in grades kindergarten through 12 or higher education, excelling in school or doing something extraordinary. To recommend a student, email stacie-guthrie@cherokee.org.</strong>
BY STAFF REPORTS
11/09/2016 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Foundation is accepting scholarship applications for the 2017-18 academic year until Jan. 31. CNF offers three types of funded scholarships: private, tribal and institutionally based. Cherokee Nation endowments are available at the universities of Tulsa and Oklahoma State. Funds are awarded through CNF and availability varies annually. In addition to existing scholarships, CNF is adding opportunities created by its donation-matching program called “Leave a Legacy,” which launched in February. The CNF board of directors allocated $100,000 in February to match gifts ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 on a first-come, first-served basis. Through the initiative, multiple new funds have been established benefiting Cherokee students. Donors worked directly with CNF staff members to name their funds and create guidelines on how the scholarships are awarded. These funds can be established to honor the legacy of a loved one or to benefit students with a particular interest or school choice. Principal Chief Bill John Baker was the first to secure an endowment and chose to honor his grandmother Audie Baker. The Nix Family Foundation established a fund to honor the legacy of Susan Agnew Loeser. In addition, Brent and Janees Taylor created a fund to support CN students pursuing a business degree at Rogers State University. As of publication, there was $65,000 remaining to support the matching initiative and all donations are tax-deductible. To access and apply for CNF scholarships, visit <a href="http://www.cherokeenationfoundation.org/scholarships" target="_blank">www.cherokeenationfoundation.org/scholarships</a>. For more information, call (918) 207-0950 or email Janice Randall at <a href="mailto: jr@cherokeenationfoundation.org">jr@cherokeenationfoundation.org</a>.