Native American Undergraduate Students Awarded ‘Wes Studi AIEF Scholarship’

College students across the country are eager to begin the fall semester, whether in-person or online. For Native American students, however, attaining a postsecondary education comes with its own set of unique challenges.

The American Indian Education Fund (AIEF), a program of PWNA, helps foster education opportunities for American Indian and Alaskan Natives through scholarships, school supplies and encouragement. AIEF is one of the largest grantors of scholarships to Native Americans and invests about $1 million in education each year, including scholarships for many students who are the first generation in their families to attend college.  

This year, PWNA collaborated with legendary actor Wes Studi to grant two additional scholarships to Native American students from his home state. The Wes Studi AIEF Scholarship is intended for Native American students from Oklahoma who are attending a four-year university and pursuing a degree in the arts, business or communications.

This year’s scholarships were awarded to Hannah Westfall, a member of the Osage Nation who is studying film and media studies at the University of Oklahoma, and Kelly Kowis, a member of the Cherokee Nation who is studying business management at Northeastern State University. Both Kelly and Hannah were awarded $2,500 for the 2020-2021 school year and will also receive mentorship and support from AIEF, which can further impact their success.

Studi, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation raised in Oklahoma, has long advocated for the Native American community. In 2019, he partnered with PWNA to create a five-part PSA series on the widely held misconceptions about Native people, history and funding. Studi also initiated a birthday fundraiser on Facebook to raise the funds earmarked for these two scholarships.

“Native American youth today are the voice of future generations, and we are so proud to select Kelly and Hannah as our inaugural Wes Studi AIEF Scholarship recipients. They both aspire to heartfelt goals and while this school year may look different, we know they will remain dedicated to their studies and their communities.” – Wes Studi

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