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Sequoyah High School Gates Scholars Jump Start College Careers

Six Cherokee Nation seniors at Sequoyah High School already started taking college courses at Northeastern State University.
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Six Sequoyah High School seniors have already gotten a jump on college credits at Northeastern State University (NSU).

Casey Arnall, Cori Butcher, Tara Comingdeer, Summer Sanders, class valedictorian Laurin Keen and salutatorian Martha Hardbarger took dual credit courses like first aid and rescue, personal health, fundamentals of oral communication, American federal government and freshman composition.

The composition course was offered at Sequoyah—a school operated by a grant from the Cherokee Nation—all others were attended at NSU.

“If they are eligible, they can pretty much take any freshman level course,” said Jason Jessie, director of NSU’s First Year Experience, in a press release. “However we encourage them to take certain classes such as general education requirements, or if they choose not to attend NSU they need to take courses which will transfer—English and algebra for example.”

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Eligibility requirements for concurrent enrollment at the university include having a 3.0 GPA, being ranked in the top half of the class or having an ACT score of at least 20.

Arnall is the only one of the group who plans on continuing to study at NSU this fall. All the students were Gates Millennium Scholars, a program that began in 1999 to help minority students with education costs.

“Gates is one of the most generous and supportive scholarships, and it is available to students from entering freshmen through the doctorate degree as long as they maintain their eligibility and keep progressing,” Dr. Phyllis Fife, director of the Center for Tribal Studies, which supports recruitment of American Indian students to NSU, said in the release. “Few needs-based scholarships follow through to the doctorate level.”