First-Generation Native Student Propelled By College Success Arizona and SRP

Freshman Shawndeena George, a College Success Arizona recipient, is happy with her first few months at Northern Arizona University.
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College freshman Shawndeena George is pretty happy with her first few months at Northern Arizona University. She’s doing well in her classes, recently changed her major to biomedical sciences and gets along with her roommate.

With the help of College Success Arizona, Shawndeena is the first in her family to attend college. Despite being active at Tuba City High School on the Navajo Nation and graduating with a 4.3 GPA, college tuition was something her family just couldn’t afford.

But thanks to a College Success Arizona scholarship funded by Salt River Project, the Native American student has set her sights on becoming a doctor.

College Success Arizona is a nonprofit that provides intensive mentoring and scholarships to low-income and first-generation students across the state. SRP has invested in the unique scholarship program because it has the ability to reach high potential, low-income students and offers support services that helps ensure academic success.

Along with financial assistance, all College Success Arizona scholars are required to meet with their success advisers at least twice a semester. In addition to the intensive mentoring, College Success Arizona provides career guidance and professional development activities, an Annual Leadership Symposium, and networking activities through their Scholars Success Network events held on campuses across the state throughout the year.

“I get a lot of help from my mentor. I can email or text him any time with questions about anything,” she said. Shawndeena is applying for a four-week program to study science in the United Kingdom—something she might not have known about without that guidance.

“At SRP, providing financial assistance to students like Shawndeena is an investment in the future,” said Rosemary Gannon, SRP Manager of Community Outreach. “SRP operates the Navajo Generating Station on the Navajo Reservation, so this is also a way to give back to communities in which our employees live and work.”

SRP employee Janet Chee was the first student who was awarded the CSA/SRP scholarship. As the first person in her family to attend college, Chee said the scholarship and mentoring helped guide her when she graduated from ASU with a degree in business management. Chee, who went on to earn a master’s in information management, is an analyst in SRP’s Market Research area.

“I’m very grateful for all the opportunities and mentoring I had in college and now here at SRP,” Chee said.

College Success Arizona relies on corporation contributions from companies like SRP to help pay college tuition costs for students who might otherwise not be able to afford a higher education.

“This is Shawndeena’s first year in our program, but she has already made a significant impression on me,” said Robert Davis, Shawndeena’s Success Adviser. “Shawndeena is a self-motivated, driven student who treats those around her with humble kindness and respect. She will make an exceptional doctor one day. I have no doubt about it.”

For Shawndeena, she’s grateful for the assistance.

“It’s one less thing for me to worry about,” she said.

SRP is a community-based nonprofit utility. It is the third-largest public power utility in the nation, serving more than 1 million electric customers in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. SRP is also the largest provider of water to the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, delivering about 800,000 acre-feet annually.

SRP offers assistance to students through a variety of scholarship programs for students pursuing STEM fields of study. For more information visit the SRP website.

This piece was written by Patty Garcia-Likens, of SRP Media Relations.