Celebrating Our AIEF Scholars this Graduation Season

“We honor them [graduates] with songs, talking positively of how this group is going to change things. People are smiling and seeing how parents react as [the students] graduate. Why can’t we live like this every day — positive, a moment of happiness?”

Ben Good Buffalo, a veteran and father to two daughters from the Red Shirt community of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, spoke these words as he reflected on graduation ceremonies.  

These words ring true as we celebrate those Native American students who are crossing the stage to collect their college diplomas this graduation season. Each step taken toward their dream of education they have sought and earned seems more intentional, more focused – especially as they consider what the next chapter, post-graduation, will bring. For many students, graduation is only the beginning — whether that beginning brings new employment, continued academics or simply a break from the books is up to each graduate.

Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) is proud to have supported the academic journeys of some of the students who’ve received their college diplomas this year through scholarships awarded by the American Indian Education Fund (AIEF), a program of PWNA. AIEF aided 90 students with scholarships for the 2018-19 academic year and provided other funding opportunities through college partners. Today, we’re sharing remarks of gratitude from two of those scholarship recipients as they embark on their new beginnings, post-graduation.

Elisha, Navajo
Native American Studies and Psychology, Duke University

“The American Indian Education Fund has been supporting me for the past two years. My educational and career goals would not be possible without the generous donors that help support AIEF. The financial generosity has allowed me to be one step closer to achieving my goals and dreams and has helped me focus on what is important, my education. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to complete my education. I am committed to using it to encourage others to understand the power and importance of earning a degree. Thank you again for this amazing opportunity!”

Andrea, Zia Pueblo
Associate of Arts, Haskell Indian Nations University

“I would like to thank the AIEF committee for awarding me a scholarship to attend college without having to worry about the financial situation. The scholarship has been a huge help for me and my parents, as I attend college 12 hours away from home. With the help of AIEF, I have been given many opportunities that allowed me to become a better person, academically. I have also received endless support and encouragement from the AIEF team and am extremely grateful for everyone who took part in my success. I also want to send many thanks to the donors for shining a light at the end of the educational tunnel. Without your support and assistance, I wouldn’t have been able to pursue and receive an associate of arts degree at Haskell Indian Nations University. Once again, thank you for your hard work and dedication in assisting us Indigenous scholars.”

Congratulations to our AIEF scholars and graduates, and their families, and all other college grads this year. You are the future and we are grateful for your commitment to your education and your communities!

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