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American Indian

GRADUATE Spring 2003

Inside this Issue: •

Choosing the Right Graduate Program

Fostering Graduate Student Success in South Dakota

Headlands Summer Program

Gates Millennium Scholars

Rainer Fellowship Recipients

The American Indian Graduate




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Table of Contents


American Indian


The American Indian Graduate Volume 2, Number 2

Volume 2, Number 2 • Spring 2003


A Publication of the American Indian Graduate Center 4520 Montgomery Blvd., NE Suite 1B Albuquerque, NM 87109 Phone: (505) 881-4584 Fax: (505) 884-0427

Pursuing a Graduate Education

Steps Toward the Future: Choosing the Right Graduate Program


By Jennifer Bitsie (Navajo) Searching for the right graduate program can be anxious. Knowing the questions to ask and who to turn to for guidance makes the process easier.


Publisher Norbert S. Hill, Jr. Executive Director

Preparing for a Healthcare Profession

Todd Lemoine Consulting Editor

Headlands Summer Program By Molly Tovar For over 25 years, the Headlands Summer Program in Oklahoma has been preparing American Indian students for healthcare careers.


Jim Weidlein Production Editor Carolyn S. Tate Design & Layout

Innovation Through Collaboration

AIGC Board of Directors

Fostering Success in American Indian Graduate Education

Ada Pecos Melton, President Jemez Pueblo

By Lowell Amiotte and David Hilderbrand A new graduate program at South Dakota State University takes a new approach to ensuring student success.


Louis Baca, Vice-President Santa Clara Pueblo

Steven Stallings, Treasurer Rincon Luisen Band of Mission Indians


Joanne Sebastian Morris, Secretary Cayuga

Gates Millennium Scholars

Shenan Atcitty

By Jeannie Baca Meet Jeannie Baca, AIGC Scholar’s new Coordinator of Financial Aid and Student Services.



David Powless Oneida

Libby Rodke Washburn

Guest Comment


AIGC Council of One Hundred

Beverly Singer

By Todd Lemoine John Rainer’s lifelong emphasis of knowing who you are to guide where you want to go is witnessed in the two recent recipients of the Rainer Fellowship.


Thank You

A Special Thank You to AIGC’s Recruitment Liaisons AIGC would like to thank its liaisons for making this year’s recruitment efforts the tremendous success they are.

Santa Clara Pueblo/Diné

Kathryn Shanley Nakota (Assiniboine)

Cover Artist Marlen Magdalena Cover artist Marlen Magdalena (Jemez Pueblo) says the painting on the cover “shows there is still a spiritual presence of life that exists in an abandoned place.”

The American Indian Graduate


Graduate Education

Steps Toward the Future

Choosing the Right Graduate Program By Jennifer Bitsie (Navajo)


earching for and choosing the best graduate degree program for you is an anxiety-filled experience; it should be. Your graduate education allows you to focus your education on a specific field of study, placing you one step closer to become an expert in that field. For any student, it is critically important to find the right school and program. For the potential American Indian graduate student, deciding upon the best program assumes even more importance. Knowing who to turn to and where to look for help will ensure you find a program that will benefit your academic career, your professional career, and your well-being. I recently spoke with Molly Tovar, Ed.D., and Chief Operating Officer for the American Indian Graduate Center (AIGC) about how important these factors are and what I can do to make sure they are addressed. It turns out these concerns are not uncommon among American Indian students.

What kind of environment does a program provide its students? According to Dr. Tovar, having a strong system of support from friends and others in the program is necessary if I am to succeed. “For many American Indian students, “ she says, “leaving home to attend school can be a stressful and challenging experience and is especially so when the cultural and social support web is also weakened. A lack of this type of support can mean the difference between earning the degree or returning to his or her community. Many of these students don’t have the emotional support they need from their families to continue with school. If that support isn’t offered by the graduate program or the university, there’s a good chance those students will not complete or even start their graduate education.”

Does a program offer or encourage mentors? Many American Indian graduate students will be the first in their family to earn a graduate Jennif er Bitsie degree, and may not have anyone close to ask for advice or assistance. A mentor is a reassuring presence and a voice of experience that the student can always turn to and rely upon. Tovar suggests that, similar to the above factor, having a mentor can make all of the difference in the American Indian graduate student’s education.

What kind of financial help is available? According to Dr. Tovar, “AIGC has partnered with Peterson’s, an education information and research portal, to create a Consortium for American Indian Graduate Education. This consortium will create and enhance opportunities for American Indian students to matriculate into graduate programs and, ultimately, to receive graduate degrees.” While these opportunities may not be direct financial assistance, they will address other needs of the American Indian graduate student, be a forum for understanding cultural traditions and practices, and address racism within programs and classes. By expanding others’ understanding of my experience, getting help, whether it’s emotional support from peers and associates, academic and professional guidance from a mentor, or financial assistance from a school or organization, should be easier. As any student, graduate or otherwise knows, you need all the help you can get. 

“If that support isn’t offered by the graduate program or the university, there’s a good chance those students will not complete or even start their graduate education.” 4

The American Indian Graduate

Healthcare Professions

Headlands Indian Health Career Summer Program By Molly Tovar The Headlands summer program has been helping American Indian students prepare for healthcare careers since 1975. Three students share their experiences with this groundbreaking program. A warning on the Headlands website (http:// about its rigorous academic schedule is not intended to scare potential applicants, but give them a clear indication of the valuable opportunity the program presents. Established in 1975 to combat the disparity between the number of American Indian physicians and the number of American Indians needing medical care and attention, the program has evolved to become the premier program of its kind in the nation for the preparation of aspiring Native American youth into health careers. The Headlands Indian Health Careers Program is an 8-week summer program designed to increase the science and mathematics backgrounds and communication skills of American Indian students interested in a health career. It seeks to prepare its students academically, to ready them for the rigorous math and science courses they can expect in pre-health courses of study, and it seeks to enhance them as individuals, giving them the self-confidence and leadership skills necessary for a healthcare professional. One of the strategies to provide greater access to healthcare services and reduce disease levels among disadvantaged populations is to train members of those groups.

Headlands gave Karen Sopko the chance to experience school away from home.

Meet Three Headlands Students Each year, only a handful of students, between 10 and 20 students, are selected to participate in the program. Three “graduates” of the program talk about how important the Headlands program was for them and their careers.

Carissa Pablo (Navajo/Zuni, Class of 1993) Carissa started college as a pre-medicine student at a small Christian college in Michigan. She did not think about whether to go to college; it was an obvious decision. She knew she wanted to make in difference. “I felt that the behavioral health field is underrepresented and that the needs of behavioral health are just as important as medical needs.” Carissa graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of New Mexico. Today, she is the Assistant Director of Intake and Utilization Review Department for the non-profit organization Hogares, Inc. She left the Headlands program with a deep respect for the people around her, “I was able to gain knowledge not only from the instructors, directors, and mentors but also from my peers at Headlands. I learned a lot about how broad the health professions field is and how there is a great need to serve and help people.”

Karen Sopko (Navajo, Class of 1989)

Carissa giving clinical supervision to one of her staff.

After graduating from Colorado College in 1993, Karen worked in an Colorado Springs emergency room for a couple of years before deciding to return to school in 1996. She is in her last year of Internal Medicine Residency at the University of New Mexico.

The American Indian Graduate


Healthcare Professions Karen, like many Headlands students, benefited personally and academically from the program. “Leaving home gave me the opportunity to adjust earlier for college and to learn to be a ‘responsible adult.’ Headlands gave me a head start for college-level courses…since my high school did not offer the same caliber of courses I needed to be competitive in college.” Karen also received a lot of support from her family. “My biggest influences were my parents. I learned all I needed to succeed from them: hard work, ambition, competitiveness and tenacity.”

Julius Charlie (Navajo/Acoma, Class of 1986) On the Navajo reservation where Julius was raised, his high school lacked the strong academic and other support services he would need to succeed in college. Headlands gave him that support. Today, Julius is a Resident Physician at the New Mexico Health Sciences Center. Headlands helped Julius develop the academic and personal survival skills necessary to participate and be successful in college and in medical schools. “I developed the skills to become a life-long learner. It reinforced my passion to work with Native American people.” It wasn’t without

Julius Charley credits Headlands for giving him study skills he used while in school. He is a resident physician at the New Mexico Health Sciences Center.

its challenges, however. “I studied all the time, and after 3 or 4 weeks, started to become exhausted.” Julius adjusted to the academic rigor of the program and acknowledges, “It made the transition to college a little easier.”

A Sad Coda Unfortunately, budget constraints prevent the Headlands program from taking place this year. Dr. Joseph Feretti, who helped develop the program, and Tom Hardy, its Resident Director, invite you to e-mail any ideas you may have about keeping this important initiative alive to 

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The American Indian Graduate

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Innovation Through Collaboration

Fostering Success in American Indian Graduate Education By Lowell Amiotte and David Hilderbrand


ith a cumulative population of 59,000, South Dakota’s nine American Indian Reservations represent 80% of the approximately 75,000 American Indians in the state. Although five triballycontrolled colleges serve the reservations, graduate educational opportunities on the reservations are limited. As the land grant university for the state, South Dakota State University has defined new approaches to meet the additional graduate education needs of the reservationbased American Indian population. By developing a cohort-based program that had substantive support from participating faculty as well as necessary financial support from a Bush Foundation grant, several American Indian students have earned their graduate degrees and we have a successful model for future programs. To succeed, our program had to meet the following challenges: 1. Potential adult graduate students should be able to attend classes at a location that allows them to remain with their families, rather than relocate to a university campus. 2. Students must be able to continue in their current jobs. For most students, classes would need to meet on weekends or evenings. 3. Face-to-face interaction with faculty and students is essential. With these challenges in mind, we developed a cohort-based program, one which took the courses to the students. Weekend courses were developed. Many of these courses were team-taught, coupling a professor from SDSU with a professional Native American educator. The American Indian faculty members were either practicing K-12 educators or faculty from Sinte Gleska University, a tribal college on the Rosebud Reservation. The program was similar to the on-campus curriculum, except that students were required to take six credits of Native American education coursework and three credits of human relations coursework. The entire program was portfolio-based. Students incorporated formal and informal educational, community and cultural experiences into these portfolios,

The program’s success is difficult to ignore. Every graduate has been employed in an educational administrative position, many as principals in schools on the reservations. and a final, conclusive professional portfolio was used to demonstrate a knowledge base and mastery during comprehensive examinations and for use in future job-seeking. Additionally, the portfolio and coursework helped the students form their administrative platform and educational philosophy, and articulate their administrative theories. The grant from the Bush Foundation alleviated the financial strain normally assumed by the students. It covered tuition, fees, and books for all courses, and provided room and board for the four weeks required on campus during one summer. The program’s success is difficult to ignore. Twenty students, all American Indians, enrolled in the cohort group. Seventeen of the students completed the program, graduating in 1996-7. Every graduate has been employed in an educational administrative position, many as principals in schools on the reservations. Currently, fifteen remain in principal positions and two have returned to the classroom. This success can be attributed to three key factors. First, and perhaps most important, is the cohort approach used by the program. The cohort provided emotional, cultural, and academic support, allowing the students to form highly effective, self-regulating study groups. Second, the commitment of the SDSU faculty in the program. To meet the essential needs of face-to-face interaction and trust-building and to provide adequate instructions and learning opportunities, the faculty commuted 600 miles roundtrip each weekend during the semesters they were teaching in the program. Lastly, the on-site delivery and financial support provided by the Continued on page 15

The American Indian Graduate



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Gates Millennium Scholars By Jeannie M. Baca


t is with great pleasure that I introduce myself as the newest member of the American Indian Graduate Center Scholars team! I am Jeannie M. Baca, the Coordinator of Financial Aid and Student Services. I work directly with the Gates Millennium Scholarship (GMS) component of AIGC Scholars and am excited about my new role. Outreach and student recruitment are a major part of the GMS Program, and I work closely with other staff to develop and implement student recruitment strategies and provide continual financial aid expertise to our constituents. Since I joined AIGC Scholars in October 2002, things have been very busy; I can truly say, “There is never a dull moment.” We have received hundreds of nominations for scholarship consideration with the GMS program. The selection process is extraordinarily competitive; only 1,000 candidates are selected each year for each ethnic group. These candidates come from a

Jeannie helps a student review scholarship application details.

wide variety of ethnic backgrounds and groups, including American Indian/Alaska Native, African American, Hispanic and Asian Pacific Islander American — all of which are targeted by the GMS program. Independent readers judge candidates based on their demonstrated skills and achievements in three major areas: academic


The American Indian Graduate

achievement, community service, and leadership potential. Candidates must be nominated by someone who recognizes the student’s academic achievement and has meaning- Jeannie M . Baca ful contact with the student, and they must be recommended by someone who knows the candidate and is familiar with his or her community service and leadership activities. The scholarship can be renewed each year throughout a student’s undergraduate study and it can follow the student through graduate and post-graduate school if their concentrated field of study is mathematics, science, engineering, education, or library science. The GMS award is transferable and supports up to the cost of attendance at most colleges and universities throughout the country. I am honored to be a part of this unique scholarship. AIGC Scholars is confident American Indians will rank as top candidates as their applications are evaluated. This year, applications were reviewed during the “2003 READ” event in Albuquerque in March, hosted by the Pueblo of Isleta Department of Higher Education. I would like to personally thank them for generously allowing the use of their facilities for such an important cause. Our second year of operation was a tremendous success. As we continue working together to provide assistance to outstanding American Indian students, we are confident the return on our investment will grow with our increased efforts. The time, energy, travel and networking experiences we shared this past year have definitely paid off. The number of American Indian GMS applicants is up, nearly doubling last year’s number. Our success would not be possible without the diligent and impressive efforts of our high school, universities, and tribal liaisons, particularly those listed on page 15. I cannot thank enough our liaisons and others who helped in the massive recruitment push this year. 

Guest Comment

Council of One Hundred

Knowing Our Past to Create the Future By Todd Lemoine

“Keep reaching for what your heart is set on and eventually it’ ll happen.” Implicit in those words of John Rainer is our theme for this issue, “Knowing Our Past to Create the Future.” Rainer recognized that knowing who you are as a person, as a member of your community, or as a professional is critical to achieving your life’s goals. To help others recognize this as well within themselves, the Council of One Hundred established the John Rainer Fellowship. In this scholarship, we pay tribute to his words by acknowledging his lifelong contributions, and prepare for our future as a community by honoring his deeds and granting two outstanding recipients the chance to pursue their own educational and leadership opportunities. This year’s recipients of the John Rainer Fellowship are Ms. Roian Matt (Confederated Salish and Kootenai) and Mr. Timothy Brown (Rosebud Sioux). We

asked each to share a little about themselves and what John Rainer means to them. Roian Matt is a second-year Enviromental Studies graduate student at the University of Montana. In her words, “When I reach my educational goals, I plan to work with Native people. I do not necessarily have to work with my own people, but I have always vowed thoughout my educational experience that I will work with Indian people. I feel that I can perptuate [John Rainer’s] legacy by taking examples from his life and applying them to mine. I realize the importance of Indian education [and] that I can be a role model for younger Native people in urging them to continue their education.” For Roian, the scholarship enabled her to pursue the “perfect Roian Matt project” for her research, a project that has the potential to affect environmental justice projects in several tribes. Timothy Brown is his third year of his Ph.D. program in counseling psychology at the University of Minnesota after receiving his undergraduate degree from Stanford University. Timothy “embraces” Rainer’s advice to “Get the best possible training you can,” and intends to encourage other students to do the same. “It is so easy in a doctoral program to lose perspective on what a degree is all about. I am thankful that this scholarship has reminded me that I must use my own story to help Indain youth see their future in education.”  DANIELLE GARDNER


n past issues of this magazine, we’ve taken time to celebrate John Rainer’s life, pausing to give thought to his words and his deeds. His words, eloquent sayings whose simplicity belies their power, truth, and timelessness, will forever remain with us. In many ways, though, his entire life, the way he lived, becomes perhaps the strongest keepsake. It is his spirit of determination, of tireless education and exploration of knowledge, and his leadership that inspires the Council of One Hundred, and fuels a powerful legacy that transcends time and helps create and mold our next generation of leaders. The Council of One Hundred, named for the one hundred elders and other tribal community leaders who compose it, was established by the AIGC to provide a forum with which our present communities and leaders can connect with those of our past. Its elders are there to offer advice and assistance, and to address immediate challenges facing American Indian students and communities today.

“Keep reaching for what your heart is set on and eventually it’ll happen.” The American Indian Graduate



Personal and Academic Growth Through Research Opportunities


harlotte McCloskeyÂ’s love for research

MU Graduate School


University of Missouri-Columbia




college students at predominately Caucasian

210 Jesse Hall Columbia, MO 65211 Phone: (573) 882-3292 Fax: (573) 884-5454


psychology studies at the University of MissouriColumbia when she worked with Dr. Helen Neville as a McNair Research Scholar. McCloskey studied the effects of stress and coping on Native American

She was intimately familiar with the topic.

McCloskey took a different approach: working "with" people, not "on" them.

As part of the Rosebud Lakota Nation and an active

The Summer Pre-Graduate Research Experience for Students in the Humanities

member of From the Four Directions, McCloskey

Experience for students in the Humanities will

knew the specific problems that she and other Native

offer undergraduate students the opportunity

people faced in college.

to work full-time on a research project under the direction of a MU faculty member.

McClosky cites several reasons for staying at MU, "I

June 6 through Aug. 1 - $2400 stipend -

was impressed with the work the faculty was doing,

3 hours research credit - Room and board.

how they treat the students and how the students seemed to care for each other." Her positive undergraduate experience, and the two years she spent with the campus Women's Center after graduating in 1999, were reasons to stay as well. In 2001, McCloskey won MUÂ’s George Washington Carver Fellowship.


fellowship provides five-year funding package consisting of an annual stipend of $15,000. After finishing her doctoral program, McCloskey wants to combine her research

MU Summer Research Internship Program Sponsored by the Louis Stokes Missouri Alliance for Minority Participation While working on a research project under the guidance of an MU faculty mentor, students participate in weekly brown-bag lunches,

with a teaching career, "I hope there will be an opportunity to give back what I've

evening seminars, career peakers, workshops on

been given."

research ethics and communicating research, field trips, social events and special discussions.

In addition to the George Washington Carver Fellowship, the University of

June 8 - Aug. 2, 2003 - $2400 stipend for eight

Missouri-Columbia offers several other opportunities for students to explore their

weeks - one hour research credit, - room and

chosen intrests. For more information about programs at MU, log on to the MU

board provided on campus.

Graduate School website at

Fostering Success

Contact Us

Continued from page 9

Bush Foundation grant were instrumental to the program’s success. It was only with on-site delivery that the students could successfully incorporate master’s degree educational requirements into their lives filled with family, work and community commitments. Further, the absence of the burden of tuition and related costs made the dream of graduate education a reality and the possibility of attaining it feasible. The cohort based on-site delivery of graduate level curricula has been an extraordinarily successful and rewarding experience for both the students and the institution. We look forward to developing and delivering additional programs like it. 

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The American Indian Graduate


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American Indian Graduate Magazine Spring 2003