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Education Briefs | Diné, Cheyenne River Sioux are first students in program to boost Indigenous women in physics

LOS ALAMOS, N.M.

Arielle Platero

Arielle Platero and Julie Nelson are the first cohort for a new program at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Platero, Diné, is a junior at Fort Lewis College, where she is majoring in engineering and math. Nelson, Cheyenne River Sioux, is a senior at Fort Lewis College, where she is majoring in engineering and math major.

Working with Fort Lewis, the program supports undergraduate indigenous women interested in a career in physics.

It is offered to two women per year majoring in physics at Fort Lewis College and aims to build a pipeline of talent from the undergraduate level in the Four Corners region to graduate programs and eventual careers in physics, including at national laboratories such as Los Alamos, located northwest of Santa Fe.

Julie Nelson

Astrid Morreale, a physicist at the Los Alamos lab, said, “Indigenous women are the most underrepresented group in physics degree completion and careers, and we’re in a region where the demographics are heavily Native American.”

Platero said, “As a Navajo woman in the STEM field, I am very excited to work with the Los Alamos team, because it gives me an opportunity to contribute to and to help pave the way for new and exciting physics discoveries.

“I am looking forward to continuing on this path to graduate school and to representing my tribe and showing the younger generation that we can do great things if we apply for these opportunities and put in the work.,” Platero said.

Nelson said, “This internship and the research I am privileged to participate in will be the first steps I take in pursuit of a career in physics. Obtaining the knowledge no longer seems out of reach because of this opportunity.

“I am thrilled to get hands-on experience at Los Alamos National Laboratory and explore the research side of academia while collaborating with scientists and mentors about the contributions of nuclear and particle physics that can benefit humanity,” Nelson said.

The students will receive year-round mentoring from laboratory physicists in the course of their education at Fort Lewis College.

The program includes a 10-week internship in Los Alamos and a two-week visit to CERN, the European Council for Nuclear Research.

Students will also be able to participate in the American Indian Resource Group that promotes access to Native American resources and a sense of community and inclusion while learning about high-energy nuclear physics at the Los Alamos lab.

NAU plans 2 ceremonies for fall graduates

FLAGSTAFF – For the first time in two years, Northern Arizona University will officially be back in the J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome to celebrate the fall graduating class.

Two ceremonies will take place: 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Friday to celebrate nearly 2,800 students who have applied for graduation. Doors will open 90 minutes before each ceremony and a clear bag policy will be in place.

The 10 a.m. ceremony will celebrate graduates of the colleges of education, environment, forestry and natural sciences and engineering, informatics, applied sciences, NAU Online, NAU Yavapai and NAU Yuma.

The 3 p.m. ceremony will celebrate graduates of the colleges of arts and letters, health and human services, social and behavioral sciences, and the W.A. Franke College of Business.

If you are planning on attending one of the ceremonies, plan for extra time to get to the ceremony. For those unable to attend in person, they will be live-streamed on NAU-TV.

Information: nau.edu/commencement.

NAU teacher’s institute holds open house

FLAGSTAFF – Northern Arizona University’s Diné Institute for Navajo Nation Educators and Indigenous Early Childhood Educators Fellowship held its annual showcase and open house on Saturday in Flagstaff.

Thirty-four Diné teachers and educators are fellows in the program, which is a partnership between area schools and the university.

The NAU institute aims to strengthen teaching in schools serving Navajo students through professional development. The program offers teacher growth and fosters cultural and content knowledge between the partners.

The program also tries to build culturally responsive, academically rigorous curriculums among teachers in Navajo schools and promotes leadership and student achievement.

NAU President José Luis Cruz Rivera and Ann Marie Chischilly, NAU interim vice president for Native American initiatives, were presenters at the meeting.

In a keynote address, President Jonathan Nez said, “Just as our ancestors persevered through hardships and adversities, our Navajo people, including our teachers and students, continue to strive forward during this pandemic.”

First lady Phefelia Nez said, “Teachers who demonstrate a love for learning often pass this passion to their students in the classroom. As you continue on this path of being a life-long learner alongside your students, remember that you are impacting the lives of future generations to come.”

NPC scholarship awards Native students

SHOW LOW, Ariz. – Among the many scholarships given at Northland Pioneer College, an additional $10,000 will be awarded by the new AndyVon Transportation Grant for Native American students in January.

To qualify for the $1,000 grant, students must be Native American, reside on tribal lands, and commute at least 30 miles one way to attend at least one in-person class at an NPC campus or center in the spring 2022 semester. Applications from eligible students will be accepted beginning Monday, Jan. 3.

Six inaugural AndyVon Academic Scholarship $1,000 awards were made to Ashlyn Adakai of LeChee, Cornelia Nez of Dilkon, Jolie Selestewa of San Carlos, Stephanie Redhorse of Winslow, Leticial Albert of Whiteriver, and Autumn Sprengler of Fort Apache.

Adakai will complete her associate degree in May. Nez is taking prerequisites for NPC’s associate in nursing. Selestewa is dually enrolled in an associate program at NPC and Arizona State University. Redhorse will complete her associate in cosmetology. Albert will graduate with her associate in May. Sprengler will begin studies in NPC’s pharmacy technology program in January.

Selestewa was also awarded the $1,200 Doris Powers Scholarship, provided by the White Mountain Women’s Club.

Adakai also was one of three students awarded the Jennifer Lee Witt Memorial Scholarship.

18 NPC students receive fill-the-gap, leg-up scholarships

SHOW LOW, Ariz. – Among the many scholarships given at Northland Pioneer College, the Jon Graff Ph.D. Scholarship Fund provided $500 each to Ashlyn Dighans of Chinle for the University Bound Scholarship, and Lila Taylor of Snowflake for the Career and Technical Education Scholarship.

Dighans is working toward her associate at NPC and plans to transfer to the University of Arizona to study veterinary science. Her ultimate goal is to become an equine chiropractor.

Trina Poleahla of Second Mesa is a student in NPC’s early childhood education program and won the $500 Charles E. Lisitzky Memorial Scholarship.

A total of 18 students won either the NPC Friends and Family Fill-the-Gaps scholarship or the NPC Friends and Family Leg-Up scholarship. These need-based scholarships are made possible through Friends and Family’s annual fund-raising events, including Pedal the Petrified, Arizona Gives Day and the summer disc golf tournament.

Although the Pedal and golf tournament were modified or canceled for the past two years due to COVID-19, support of NPCFF donors has not only sustained these scholarship funds but allowed the foundation to increase the award amount from $500 to $750 for the spring 2022 semester.

Winners include Amaree Barney of Chambers; Ashlyn Dighans of Chinle; Cornelia Nez of Dilkon; Amanda Willey of Flagstaff; Autumn Sprengler of Fort Apache; Ashton Bishop of Holbrook; Andreah Watchman of Sanders; Trina Poleahla of Second Mesa; Angelita Juan and Amber Rose Glauvitz of Show Low; Maggie Shumway of Snowflake; Raylee Johnson of Springerville; Michaelea Nez of St. Michaels; Naomi Cosen and Leticia Albert of Whiteriver; and Joseph Kohler and Stephanie Redhorse of Winslow.

NPC nonprofit increases scholarships to highest level ever

SHOW LOW, Ariz.– NPC Friends and Family, the nonprofit that supports the students of Northland Pioneer College, awarded 36 scholarships totaling $30,700 to 25 unique students for the spring 2022 semester.

Fall 2021 scholarship awards worth $47,900 went to 37 students, bringing the combined total for the 2021-22 academic year to $78,600, the most ever awarded by the foundation in an academic year.

“In our first academic year, 2014-15, we awarded a little less than $20,000 to 21 students,” explains Friends and Family Executive Director Betsyann Wilson. “It is so gratifying to see this kind of growth.”

A total of 118 applications were submitted for 13 different scholarships. Per Friends and Family board policy, each applicant may win no more than two scholarships per semester, and awardees will receive the two most valuable scholarships from among those for which they have applied.

Fifteen of the applicants received two scholarships, and every applicant received at least one scholarship award.


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