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Morongo Gives $40,000 In Scholarships

 In its continuing effort to provide opportunity to the next generation of tribal leaders, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians has awarded four Native American students from across California with $40,000 in college and graduate school scholarships this year, the tribe announced Thursday.

The eighth annual Rodney T. Mathews Jr. Scholarship is unique among tribal scholarships in that it is open to any enrolled member of the more than 100 federally-recognized tribes in California.
“With this year’s program, the Rodney T. Mathews Jr. Scholarship has provided nearly $280,000 to students as part of Morongo’s ongoing effort to reverse the trends that have left Native Americans as the most underrepresented and underserved group in colleges and universities,” said Tribal Chairman Robert Martin.
American Indians and Alaskan Natives comprise less than 1% of the nation’s college students, the lowest college enrollment rate of any ethnic group, the U.S. Department of Education reports. Similarly, only 15% of American Indians hold bachelor’s degrees, fewer than any ethnic group in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Each winner received a $10,000 scholarship. The 2012 recipients included:
  • Crystal Martinez of the Ione Band of Miwok Indians. Martinez attends California State University, Sacramento where she is working on her PhD in Educational Leadership.
  • Kayla Hilario of the Ione Band of Miwok Indians. Hilario attends the University of San Diego where she is working on a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management and Leadership.
  • Roxann Dowd of Resighini Rancheria (Yurok). Dowd attends the Kaiser Permanente School of Allied Health Sciences where she is getting an AA degree in Science.
  • Callista Ruiz of the Yurok Tribe. Ruiz attends the College of the Redwoods where she is working on her BA in Social Work.
“Morongo’s contribution has really helped me achieve my educational goals as a Native student,” said Crystal Martinez, who is working towards her doctorate degree in Educational Leadership. “I feel very blessed and honored to be a recipient of this award and thank the Morongo Tribal Council and community for supporting my goals.”
“Native Americans make up less than 1% of all college graduate students, so we need to continue to help encourage and motivate Native American students, especially as tuition rates continue to increase,” said Martinez, who also works with low-income Native American families to help them secure educational goals and grants. “As part of my studies, I am learning about how to break down barriers for Native American students.”
The scholarship program honors the late Rodney T. Mathews Jr., a Morongo tribal member and Hastings Law School graduate who passed away in 2004 after serving as a judge pro tem for more than a decade. 
Applicants are considered based on their academic success and community service. Candidates must be full-time students at an accredited college or university, complete 60 hours with a designated California Indian community agency and be actively involved in the Native American community.
The Press-Enterprise
Published: October 19, 2012