Post by Kimberly Urish, a Major Gifts Officer at the College Fund
As a staff member with the College Fund, I had the honor to attend the spring Scholarship Awards Night at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) to witness 260 students moving one step closer towards their educational goals. The event awarded 534 College Fund scholarships to 260 students totaling $519,906.
President Dr. Robert Martin welcomed College Fund scholarship recipients and IAIA Foundation scholarship recipients. Guests also included IAIA Foundation board members, College Board of Trustees member Kimberly Blanchard, Scholarship Committee Members, and IAIA staff, as well as local donors.
Seeing College Fund scholarships being placed in the hands of students gave me the opportunity to see the work we do at the College Fund with our supporters come to fruition. It was satisfying and thrilling to see the smiling faces of hundreds of students receiving awards as each name that was called. Friends and family members cheered in support, knowing how hard the students work to make their goals a reality.
A few of the scholarships awarded were funded by donors I work closely with, including the Bonnie Wieden Endowed Scholarship, the Pendleton Woolen Mills Tribal College Scholarship, and the Adolph Coors Foundation “Student of the Year” award.
IAIA Student of the Year Manuel “Manny” James Ramirez served as the event emcee. Manny is an enrolled member of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and is a senior majoring in Studio Arts. He is engaged in leadership and service activities on-campus with the Associated Student Government and other campus and community organizations. He has served as a Student Orientation Leader and worked as a Resident Assistant known for his willingness to help other students. Manny says his IAIA experience has enhanced his skills as an artist while increasing his appreciation of Native culture, art and education.
College Fund Board member and donor Kimberly Blanchard, served as the Awards Night Keynote speaker. She traveled from New York City the night before in order to tour the campus the day of the event to see first-hand the learning environment our scholars enjoy. During the tour, we visited the collections gallery and spoke with the curator, toured a sculpture class in session, and experienced a short student film in the “Digital Dome.”
In her speech, Blanchard shared stories of her experiences visiting tribal colleges and universities and her impressions of the challenges TCU students overcome to succeed. She shared that a TCU visit first motivated her to become involved with the College Fund. Over the years Blanchard has invested considerable time and funds to help students and faculty and support TCUs.
Blanchard asked the students at the event to “Go out into the world and tell everyone IAIA and the TCUs and about the education you got here. Tell people about what is going on in Indian country. Tell them the good news, not just the depressing stuff we read about in the papers. Ask them to support your school and the tribal education movement. Ask them to be an advocate and an ally.”