American Indian College Fund Announces 2020-21 Student Ambassador Cohort
August 27, 2020
August 26, 2020 Denver, Colo.— The American Indian College Fund selected and trained 12 new student ambassadors for its 2020 cohort. Now in its sixth year, the College Fund Student Ambassador Program trains American Indian and Alaska Native students to serve as leaders in their communities, to work to combat stereotypes, and to create greater visibility of Native Americans and an understanding of the importance of their diverse cultures.
With 42% of the Native American population today under the age of 24, the opportunity to educate the next generation of young Native leaders to realize their potential and to advocate for their communities is at a tipping point. Creating greater visibility about the importance of higher education for Native students is crucial to creating a better future for Native peoples and communities. College Fund student ambassadors promote higher education and visibility of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIAN) and inspiring the next generation of Native students in media interviews, at cultural events, in their communities, and on their campuses.
The 2020 cohort also received advocacy training to help them spearhead engagement and action for issues impacting Native communities.
This year the multi-day training program was moved online, still providing student ambassadors with leadership development, public speaking, interviewing, writing, and social media training in an interactive modular format.
The virtual format allowed attendees the additional opportunity to participate in conversations about career planning and persistence with professionals in their fields. Special guests included veteran Native American actor Zahn McClarnon (recent credits include television shows Barkskins, Longmire, Fargo, and Westworld and the movie Dr. Sleep) who was joined by his mother, a longtime professional educator; and Kevin McDermott, a retired NFL long snapper who played for the San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens, and Minnesota Vikings before leaving the NFL to launch his dream career in finance.
The 2020-21 American Indian College Fund Student Ambassadors are:
• Lyndsey Blanco (Tlingit and Haida Central Council), a business administration major at Ilisagvik College in Alaska;
• Kimberly Blevins (Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation), an environmental science master’s program student at Sitting Bull College in North Dakota;
• Natasha Goldtooth (Diné), an agroecology/environmental science major at Diné College in Arizona;
• Spring Grey Bear (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe), a business administration major at United Tribes Technical College in North Dakota;
• Kenwa Kravitz (Pit River/Wintu), a native studies leadership major at Northwest Indian College in Washington;
• Emily Lockling (Fond du Lac Band of Superior Chippewa), an environmental science major at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in Minnesota;
• Jacob McArthur (White Earth Ojibwe Nation), a business administration major at Bemidji State University in Minnesota;
• Tori McConnell (Yurok Tribe), a neurology, physiology, and behavior major at the University of California Davis in California;
• Jamison Nessman (White Earth Nation), a pre-medicine student at Bemidji State University in Minnesota;
• Chandra Norton (Hoopa Vakkey Tribe), a community advocate and responsive education in human services major at Northwest Indian College in Washington;
• David Plant (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes), a business management major at Salish Kootenai College in Montana.
• Amanda Ruiz (Sicangu Lakota), a natural science degree and pre-engineering major at Oglala Lakota College in South Dakota;
• Christopher Villaruel (Ajumawi/Pit River), a Forestry Hydrology Major at Humbodlt State University in California;
• Lester Wells (Crow Creek Sioux Tribe), a Lakota leadership and management master’s program major with an education administration emphasis at Oglala Lakota College in South Dakota; and
• Jade Yazzie (Diné), a food and nutrition in dietetics major at Montana State University in Montana.
About the American Indian College Fund—Founded in 1989, the American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 30 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer" and provided $7.72 million in scholarships to 3,900 American Indian students in 2018-19, with nearly 137,000 scholarships and community support totaling over $221.8 million since its inception. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit http://www.collegefund.org.
Reporters: The American Indian College Fund does not use the acronym AICF. On second reference, please use the College Fund.