Four Navajo Technical University students were announced as recipients of the Clare Booth Luce Scholarship, a $75,000 scholarship that allocates $18,750 over four years to female tribal college students in the STEM fields.
The American Indian College Fund administers the Clare Booth Luce Scholarship, and stated that it required a restrictive application process that was limited to four-year majors with a 2.0 GPA in the fields of Computer Science, Digital Manufacturing, or Industrial Engineering. With these restrictions, only two tribal colleges qualified to benefit from the scholarship, NTU and Sinte Gleska University; however, only NTU students were awarded.
Students receiving the prestigious scholarship included industrial engineering majors Kierra Nalwood of Del Muerto, Arizona and Adriane Tenequer of Crownpoint, New Mexico, and computer science majors Laverne Moore and Ophelia Descheny-Burnside, both of Crownpoint.
“We’re taking a holistic view on student support,” said College Fund internship and career-readiness coordinator Tiffany Gusbeth. “One of our goals is to increase graduation rates over time, so we will track the scholars. It’s a win-win situation. We help the scholars, but with their success, they also help us.”
The help provided by the College Fund was stressed amongst each scholar, who noted the importance of such funds in helping them proceed with their education.
“It’s a blessing,” stated Adriane Tenequer, who serves as the president of NTU’s SkillsUSA chapter. “I have two kids and it really helps not to worry about school. It’s too exciting to talk about without crying.”
“I was very emotional,” added Descheny-Burnside. “I was telling my boys that NTU could do so much for us. That little saying that they have, endless possibility, it’s very true. With God through prayer, all is possible.”
At first, Moore almost didn’t receive the news that she was awarded the scholarship after she ignored the College Fund’s call when she saw an out-of-town number on her caller ID.
“When the call came through, my husband thought it was a collection fund and so we didn’t want to answer,” explained Moore. “When they finally told me, I just started crying. It was surprisingly good news.”
“It helps me financially because I can focus on my studies and not worry about the next payment,” continued Moore, who explained that she recently exhausted her Pell grant. “I don’t have any excuse now except to do my studies and enjoy what I’m doing.”
Nalwood, who started her educational journey at NTU’s Chinle instructional site, agreed. “For me, I was just so happy. I didn’t know what to do. My mom raised four kids and I didn’t want her to worry about me anymore. All of my prayers have been answered.”
The Clare Booth Luce Program has become the single most significant source of private support for women in science, mathematics and engineering. The program’s aim is to encourage women to enter, study, graduate, and teach in science, mathematics, and engineering. Clare Booth Luce was a playwright, journalist, U.S. Ambassador to Italy, and the first woman elected to Congress from Connecticut.