The largest number of Cherokee Promise Scholars graduated from Northeastern State University on May 7. To ensure more Cherokee Nation students obtained college degrees, the Cherokee Nation created the Cherokee Promise Scholarship in 2011. It provides $4,600 a semester for tuition, housing and meal plans to low-income Cherokee Nation students.
“We created the Cherokee Promise Scholarship five years ago so that more of our Cherokee students would have the opportunity to pursue a higher education and earn a college degree,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said in a press release. “I am so proud we were able to assist these hardworking and talented young people in achieving a significant milestone not just for themselves, but for their families as well. Making an investment in their education is an investment in the future of our tribe.”
One of those students was 23-year-old Christian Sizemore, who eared a bachelor’s degree in media studies with an emphasis in broadcast journalism, and didn’t have to take out any loans.
“Without the Cherokee Promise, it would have been hard for me to pay for college. Cherokee Promise has also exposed me to different parts of the Cherokee culture since I wasn’t raised in a traditional Cherokee home and didn’t know a lot of the cultural beliefs,” Sizemore said in the release.
The Cherokee Promise Scholars live in a section of the dorm dedicated to Cherokee students, which allow them to interact and support each other.
Karen Jones graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology and hopes to pursue a career in a hospital laboratory.
“Being a Cherokee Promise Scholar has made it possible for me to get through college. Without it there is no way I would have been able to do it,” Jones said in the release. “The scholarship has provided me with both the financial means as well as the support system to make it through.”
A total of eight Cherokee Promise Scholars graduated from NSU this year including Trenton Hill, Sheena Yeager, Breanna Potter, Nicole Murry, Ashley Roach, Joshua Watie, Jones, and Sizemore.
The Cherokee Promise program is also offered at Rogers State University and Connors State College. There are currently 54 scholars at NSU, 23 at RSU and four at CSC. The Connors State College program started in 2015.
Promise Scholars are required to maintain a 2.7 GPA, live in the Cherokee Nation’s 14-county jurisdiction and meet income guidelines. They are also required to take Cherokee language classes and attend cultural activities offered at the university.