strives to help Native American students
Calif. - Nikishna Polequaptewa has recently received two new honors
to add to a growing list. At only 27, that list is impressive, but
it hasn't gone to his head. He continues to work towards his life-long
goal of helping other Native American students rise up to reach
their own dreams.
recently, Polequaptewa was gifted with an American Indian Science
and Engineering Society (AISES) Sequoyah Fellowship, and participated
in the blessing ceremony at the 2009 National Conference Oct. 29-31
in Portland, Ore. Polequaptewa was also named as one of 40 young
existing and emerging Native American leaders to receive the National
Center for American Indian Development's (NCAID) "Native American
40 Under 40" awards.
AISES Sequoyah Fellow is a lifetime member of AISES," said
April Armijo, AISES Information Services Coordinator. "Many
individuals purchase a Sequoyah Fellowship for themselves and then
go onto gifting one to another."
was sponsored by Todd Ambo, an engineer at 3M from the Juaneno Band
of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation, who was also gifted last
year in Anaheim. An AISES Sequoyah Fellow is regarded as a representative
members of AISES who supports the organization to overcome obstacles
and achieve immeasurable growth and success.
shared Ambo's reasoning.
a great role model and has overcome many trials and tribulations,"
Ambo said. "[Nikishna] is a young and very inspiring person
and I believe that he will accomplish many great things for native
people in the future."
Polequaptewa has faced adversity. His mother abandoned him as a
baby, and was forced into a series of foster homes when his father
went to prison. But this hasn't stopped this industrious young Hopi
from creating his own future.
was really surprised to learn that I'd been sponsored for the Sequoyah
Fellowship," Polequaptewa said. "And as for the 40 Under
40 award - I was the only individual in Education to win this award.
It was pretty neat to receive it - NCAID is the oldest nationwide
organization of its kind, and this is the first time they've offered
string of achievements prove this 27-year-old member of the Badger
and Spider Clans is moving forward at a rapid pace. He credits a
strong identification with his Hopi people as well as his desire
to help other young people for driving him forward.
currently serves as the Director of the American Indian Resource
Program (AIRP) of the University of California, Irvine, where he
is able to live his dream of helping Native American students attain
main project is an American Indian Summer Institute in Computer
Sciences, which is an intensive summer residential program, primarily
funded by the National Science Foundation," he said.
take eighth grade students going into ninth grade and 11th grade
students going into 12th grade from all over the country. We pay
for everything - transportation, housing, food, books, and entertainment."
people interested in attending the program should go to www.airp.uci.edu;
applications should be submitted in January.
project is unique in that we don't base attendance on a student's
grade point average," Polequaptewa said. "We base our
selection totally on their essay on why ... they want to come to
students who don't have a census number are not rejected; rather,
they are accepted on a self-identification basis.
percent of our students go on to attend great universities-even
if their grade point average was only 1.9 when they came to us,"
Polequaptewa said. "We serve students from kindergarten through
PhD candidates. We help students be eligible for the right tests
and to get into the college of their choice. Once there, we work
and his colleagues are there to support students through the challenges
and frustrations that face young American Indian students-including
overcoming boarding school experiences that often offer little in
the way of preparing students to be self-sufficient young adults
who will attend college off-reservation.
didn't start this program without the help of others," Polequaptewa
said. "A key organization is the Center for Educational Partnerships,
which provides us with free office space and supplies.
intends to spend the second half of his life at Hopi.
since I was little, I wanted to serve as the Hopi Tribal Chairman,"
Polequaptewa continued. "I want to serve in the best capacity
possible, with valuable resources to bring to the Tribe."
said that his plan is to serve his people-and by becoming financially
stable should he achieve his goal of Chairman, he will offer his
services free of charge.