Budget increased for higher education scholarships

BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
08/23/2013 08:59 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Tribal Councilors on Aug. 12 approved a budget modification that added slightly more than $1 million to the Cherokee Nation’s fiscal year 2013 budget for higher education scholarships.

Education Services senior advisor Dr. Neil Morton said the additional $1,034,000 would fund an extra 500 scholarships, mostly for college freshmen who are given scholarships last because upperclassmen are funded first.

“I am very excited to be able to award scholarships to students that submitted a complete application,” Mandy Scott, CN College Resource Center director, said. “The scholarship advisors worked hard to make sure all students turned in all required documents. It is a good feeling knowing that the Cherokee Nation cares about helping students continue their education.”

Tribal Councilor Chuck Hoskin Jr. said he liked the fact that so many students qualify for the scholarships.

“I appreciate the problem that you’re having because you got more students, you need more money. That’s a good problem to have,” he said.

When Hoskin asked why Education Services wasn’t funding the freshman first, Morton said budget restrictions and procedures of funding upperclassmen before freshmen were the reasons.

Morton said Education Services funded approximately 250 new students for the spring semester, which is 200 more than the department normally funds.

The approved budget modification was expected to take effect immediately so that Education Services could fund those additional scholarships this academic year. All freshmen who have a completed application on file and are eligible would be funded, Morton said.

“This year we wound up with needing to fund 850 new (CN scholarship) students,” he said. “Actually 835 are new and 15 are continuing.”

The students who received scholarships during FY 2012 attended colleges or universities in 31 states and Washington, D.C. And 80 percent of those students attended 35 colleges or universities in Oklahoma, Morton said.

The number of freshmen scholarship recipients for FY 2012 represents about 22 percent of the number of high school seniors who are Cherokee and residing in the CN jurisdictional area. Several students go into vocational, technical education before entering college.

There are currently 190 graduate students who receive scholarships.

The five universities that have the largest number of students receiving CN scholarships are Northeastern State University with 631 students, Oklahoma State University with 328 students, Rogers State University with 192 students, University of Oklahoma with 189 students and the University of Arkansas with 135 students.

Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts asked if Education Services would be keeping track of how many freshmen drop out of college or continue on with their education.

“With our new computer system, we can finally get an accurate dropout rate and also what they do after they graduate,” Morton said.

During the 2010-11 academic school year, the CN lost more than $500,000 in scholarship money after losing 318 CN scholarship recipients.

Morton said although Education Services is trying to get its hands on the number of dropout students, the dropout rate has declined. Now, when students apply for scholarships, they are assigned a CRC counselor who helps monitor the students.

“There was a time we were losing students, the greatest number of students at the end of the first year,” Morton said. “If we keep them during the first semester, chances are we’re going to keep the majority of them, vast majority of them.”

For more information, call 918-453-5000 or toll free at 1-800-256-0671 or email collegeresources@cherokee.org. To view and apply for scholarships or create a profile, visit https://cherokeenation.academicworks.com/.

tesina-jackson@cherokee.org


918-453-5000, ext. 6139

Education

BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
07/28/2016 08:30 AM
FORT GIBSON, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Cierra Fields, 17, a senior at Fort Gibson High School, recently attended the Youth Summit Planning Council, or Raliance, on July 13-14 in Washington, D.C. Fields said Raliance works to “end gender-based violence in one generation.” She said during the summit she and others worked to plan a youth summit for March in Washington, D.C. “We are apart of the committee that is planning a youth summit for high-school age, like kids my age, and it has three different tracks, which is violence in sports, media and policy change,” she said. “I’m on the subcommittee for the media. I’m the one who’s kind of in charge of helping to recruit other Native high schoolers.” Fields said the planning council has presented its ideas for the summit. “Basically we were all kind of coming together and laying out like the groundwork,” she said. “What all we’re going to be teaching, how we’re going to be recruiting everybody.” Fields said although she was the only Native at the summit, she hopes to recruit others, especially from her community. “I was the only Native there, so they relied very heavily on me especially for the recruitment of other Natives,” she said. “I just really hope that I will be able to bring in a lot of Native children, especially those from Cherokee Nation, as I believe this is something not just our Nation but tribal nations need to learn about.” She said it’s vital to inform Natives about the amount of violence, whether it is sexual or domestic, in their communities. “I think it’s a really big deal because Natives actually have the highest rates of gender-based violence. Sexual assault for men and women are the highest out of any other minority,” she said. “We also have some of the highest rates of domestic abuse. So this is a conversation we need to be in.” Fields said this platform is important because it spreads sexual assault and domestic violence awareness to others. “I believe this is important especially for youth because high school-aged teenagers…usually that’s when the patterns of sexual violence start showing. It’s when you’re more likely to get targeted is when you are in high school,” she said. “So it’s going to bring awareness to those kids for what they need to watch out for.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/26/2016 01:00 PM
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Still recovering from damaging wind and a rainstorm in December, Bacone College recently suffered another blow to its campus and is looking for donations to help cover repair costs. According to a press release, college officials seek monetary donations so they can repair a dormitory and cafeteria that a small tornado damaged on July 14. The release states the storm ripped off the dorm’s roof displacing about 100 students and effectively closing the cafeteria. Online donations can be made at <a href="http://www.bacone.edu" target="_blank">www.bacone.edu</a>. To mail in donations, send to Bacone College, Office of Development, 2299 Old Bacone Road, Muskogee, OK 74403. To volunteer to help with repairs, call Pat Spinks at 918-781-7216 or email <a href="mailto: spinksp@bacone.edu">spinksp@bacone.edu</a>
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/23/2016 10:00 AM
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Interior on July 20 announced that the quarter’s transfer of nearly $500,000 to the Cobell Education Scholarship Fund brings the total amount contributed so far close to $40 million. The Scholarship Fund provides financial assistance through scholarships to American Indian and Alaska Native students wishing to pursue post-secondary and graduate education and training. Funded in part by the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations, the scholarship program is overseen by the Cobell board of trustees and administered by Indigenous Education Inc., a non-profit corporation created to administer the scholarship fund. So far approximately $2.2 million has been awarded in graduate and undergraduate scholarships to qualified American Indian students. Based on data gathered by Indigenous Education, the most recent Cobell scholars include 404 undergraduate students and 64 graduate students representing 89 federally recognized tribes. Applications and information concerning scholarships for the academic year 2017-18 can be found at <a href="http://www.cobellscholar.org" target="_blank">www.cobellscholar.org</a>. “With every new contribution, the scholarship fund will enable increasing numbers of Native American students across Indian Country to gain the advanced education and training that will help them meet the leadership challenges of the 21st century,” Interior Solicitor Hilary Tompkins, a Navajo Nation citizen who negotiated the Cobell settlement on behalf of the Interior, said. “They are pursuing their dreams, opening doors to new opportunities, preparing themselves for leadership and advancing self-determination for their communities all thanks to the vision of Elouise Cobell, whose life and legacy inspires and guides this noble initiative.” Cobell board of trustees Chairman Alex Pearl said: “The latest distribution aids our mission of carrying out the vision of Elouise Cobell to enhance educational opportunities for American Indians and Alaskan Native students. With the beginning of the new school year, we are excited to continue awarding the talented students in Indian Country. Our board understands the financial aid needs in Indian Country are enormous. These transfers provide an important foundation from which to positively impact Native students. We remain committed to creating a uniquely tuned scholarship program attentive to the needs and issues of Native students.” The Buy-Back Program was created to implement the land consolidation component of the Cobell settlement, which provided $1.9 billion to purchase fractionated interests in trust or restricted land from willing landowners. Consolidated interests are transferred to tribal government ownership for uses benefiting the reservation community and tribal citizens. The Interior makes quarterly transfers to the scholarship fund as a result of the program’s land sales, up to a total of $60 million. The amount the Interior contributes is based on a formula set forth in the settlement that sets aside a certain amount of funding depending on the value of the fractionated interests sold. These contributions do not reduce the amount that an owner will receive. Since December 2013, more than $760 million has been paid to individual landowners and more than 1.5 million acres have been transferred to tribal governments. Participation in the Buy-Back Program is voluntary. Landowners can call the Trust Beneficiary Call Center at 1-888-678-6836 or visit a local Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians to inquire about their land or purchase offers and learn about financial planning resources. More information and detailed frequently asked questions are available at <a href="https://www.doi.gov/buybackprogram/FAQ" target="_blank">https://www.doi.gov/buybackprogram/FAQ</a>. For more information on the Cobell scholarships, go to <a href="http://cobellscholar.org" target="_blank">http://cobellscholar.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/12/2016 12:00 PM
PARK HILL, Okla. – The Cherokee Heritage Center-sponsored Cherokee Humanities Course is taking applications until Aug. 9 for the fall academic semester at Northeastern State University. Through a grant from the Inasmuch Foundation, the CHC is providing tuition, books, child care and transportation at no cost to qualified students. Students may take the course in the fall and spring semesters for a total of six college credit hours in Cherokee studies. Priority is given to nontraditional Cherokee students not currently enrolled in a university and those considering returning to college. The late Dr. Howard Meredith, a former professor and head of the American Indian Studies degree program at the University of Science and Arts, established the course that replicates the original Clemente course offered in New York City by academic scholar Dr. Earl Shorris in 1995. It is designed to bring to light ideas and experiences that have remained quiet in general history books and creates a collaborative learning environment in which personal experiences and oral traditions are respected. These are interdisciplinary, college-level humanities courses offering credit hours through NSU. The classes are primarily held in the Osiyo Training Room behind the Restaurant of the Cherokees on the Tribal Complex in Tahlequah. For more information, call Tonia Weavel at 918-456-6007 or email <a href="mailto: tonia-weavel@cherokee.org">tonia-weavel@cherokee.org</a>.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
07/11/2016 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen LaNice Belcher, 18, recently graduated from Tahlequah High School and will attend Oklahoma City University this fall on several scholarships that provide her a “full-tuition waiver.” Belcher said she received a $110,000 tuition wavier after auditioning for the university’s Wanda L. Bass School of Music. She said she also received a $25,000 OCU Presidential Scholarship. “The thing was I was also academically strong, so they had to dial back my music scholarship because they wanted it to be known that…I had received the Presidential Scholarship. Otherwise, I have a full-tuition waiver for the school,” she said. Belcher also received a Cherokee Nation Foundation scholarship. “I also have several of the Cherokee Nation scholarships and other Native American scholarships.” While attending OCU, Belcher said she would play bassoon and other woodwind instruments. She said she also has an emphasis on piano and will be learning the fundamentals of percussion and brass. Belcher said she would be auditioning for the orchestra in August, as well as several operas and musicals. “They have about two operas and a few musicals every semester, so hopefully I’ll get to be in those pit orchestras,” she said. Belcher said she’s had an interest in performing in orchestra pits since she was a freshman at THS. “I had the opportunity at NSU (Northeastern State University) to play in ‘The Magic Flute,’ and so for me opera is a very large part of why I want to go to OCU because they are extremely known for their arts and their musical theater program,” she said. During her first semester she said she would be teaching at the music-based, after-school program El Sistema in Oklahoma City. “I’ll be teaching second and fourth year student’s music fundamentals. So I’ll already be a teacher making money,” she said. Belcher added that the opportunity to teach helps with her goal of being the band director at Sequoyah High School. “That is the overall dream, overall goal.” Belcher said she hopes to see success in her musical career so she can show that Cherokees go out and “make things happen.” “For me, it’s getting the stereotype out there that we (Cherokees) don’t just stay here,” she said. “We go out, we make things happen and we’re not just sitting ducks.” What is a Student Spotlight? A Student Spotlight is a 200-to-400-word feature on a Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band or Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen who is a student, whether they are in grades kindergarten through 12 or higher education, either excelling in school or doing something out of the ordinary. How do I recommend a student for the Student Spotlight series? To recommend a student, email stacie-guthrie@cherokee.org with the student’s name, contact information and a brief summary of why he or she should be chosen.
BY TRAVIS SNELL
Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
06/09/2016 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – With Oklahoma public schools facing massive budget cuts next fiscal year, Lee Ann Reeves, a Cherokee Nation citizen who teaches seventh and eighth grade language arts at Oklahoma Union, said she appreciated the chance to earn free professional development hours at the tribe’s Teachers of Successful Students conference June 7-8 at Northeastern State University. “At our school we offer our own professional development for us to get our hours, but a lot of teachers go outside of that to get enrichment,” Reeves said. “When the schools see something that is free they are all for you going.” Reeves said being a teacher at a school with Cherokee students she wanted to get more information on how to be a better teacher and how to incorporate more strategies in the classroom. “We have a lot of kids who have tribal cards that go to our school, and so I want to better inform them of some of the Cherokee Nation offerings,” she said. “It shows me different strategies I can use to reach the students who may need a little different way to reach them, strategies I haven’t seen before, I haven’t used, from my instructors as well as other teachers who are in the classroom with me.” Now in its fourth year, the TOSS conference offers professional development workshops for teachers at public schools located in the tribe’s jurisdiction. The tribe’s Education Services held the conference for at least 150 teachers at NSU’s University Center. Dr. Gloria Sly, Education Services education liaison, said the initiative is provided through the tribe’s Motor Vehicle Tax funding so that public schoolteachers can focus on areas where schools receive failing grades from the Oklahoma Department of Education. “It was based on the public schools’ need to have professional development in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) areas because that’s where a lot of them were really failing or receiving F’s, and so we thought we could assist the public schoolteachers and make it accessible to them in this 14-county area because our little schools have just taken cuts and taken cuts, and it’s harder for them to pay for their teachers to go to attend a professional development,” Sly said. She said the conference also focused on reading and had 79 workshops for five school groups: early childhood, elementary, middle school, junior high and high school. The workshops varied in length from 45 minutes to two hours, and the conference was completely self-contained for convenience, Sly said. “We keep them self-contained in this building from beginning to end because one year we tried it where they would have to go to another building for a workshop, and all those that traveled back and forth got lost. We ended up with a very small population at the end of the day. So now we keep them in one building,” she said. Sly added that the tribe pays for housing so teachers who have to drive longer distances don’t have to leave town or pay for hotel rooms. “We pay for housing for those that come from up north like Nowata, Bluejacket. They come down here and they stay in seminary suites. We pay for that. Northeastern is a partner. As a partner they give us a very good rate. So they’ll come in Tuesday night, the night before, and be here and leave the last day,” she said. Carrie Steele, a CN citizen and math teacher at Kansas High School, said she appreciated that the conference was free and a short drive for her. “There is hardly any free training anymore and especially close to home. We always have to go to Tulsa or Oklahoma City. Tahlequah is a great place to have a meeting,” Steele said. Sly said many teachers get most, if not all, of their professional development for the whole year at the conference. “Because they have to have 15 hours of professional development, we have 15, 16 hours here,” she said. “What it all boils down to is the achievement of a lot of Cherokee students. We want them to have the best education they can. In order to have the best education they have to have the best teachers. In order to help those teachers to be able to reach our students we do this.” Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said with the TOSS conference the tribe has assumed a role in giving teachers better tools to teach Cherokee youth. “As we prepare our citizens for a growing global economy, it’s critical to have a strong academic foundation. TOSS is a unique gathering because it is a chance to share what truly works in classrooms as we try to better engage kids and spark that interest in lifelong learning,” he said.