41 years the American Indian Graduate
Center has made higher education more attainable for American
Indians/Alaska Natives by providing scholarships and mentor programs
giving undergraduate and graduate students alike the opportunity
to obtain college degrees or certifications and develop professionally.
Since 1969, we have helped more than 15,000 AI/AN students obtain
a post-secondary education with more than $44 million in scholarship
I reflect on the collective accomplishments of the students, donors,
mentors and other people who have made the AIGC the success that
it is, it is equally important to look at the road ahead of us,
as Native Americans and advocates of educational advancement, and
understand the unique challenges facing our students today.
have helped more than 15,000 American Indian and Alaska Native
students obtain a post-secondary education with more than
$44 million in scholarship awards.
I analyze these challenges, Im reminded of the childrens
rhyme about two people sitting in a tree. First comes love,
then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.
Equate this rhyme to the educational process and youll see
what I mean first comes financing, then comes school, then
comes the job in the workforce pool.
comes financing. The cost of graduate education tuition and fees
on average tripled from 1987 to 2009 according to the National Center
on Educational Statistics. Per academic year, cost of tuition and
fees alone for a public post-baccalaureate degree is over $8,000
and over $20,000 for a private institution. Professional degrees
range from $15,000 for a public education through $55,000 for a
numbers do not include the rising costs of books, housing, transportation,
technology, professional development travel and other personal expenses
necessary to maintain a basic standard of living which can vary
depending on the location of the institution. AIGC continues to
seek funding to reduce some of these costs for qualified applicants.
Scholarships made to American Indians and Alaska Natives are absolutely
necessary in financing all or part of the tremendous financial burden
our young scholars face.
aid from state, private and employer sources slowed in the second
half of the 1999-2000 to 2009-10 decade a group that comprised
20 percent of total grant aid in the 2009-10 year, according to
College Boards 2010 Trends in Student Aid report. Forty-four
percent of undergraduate and graduate grant aid came from the federal
government, and the remaining 36 percent came from colleges and
comes school. Many AIGC scholarship recipients are first generation
college students within their family to pursue a bachelors
degree and statistically, significantly more are first generation
community members to pursue graduate level degrees. Through a variety
of scholarship programs in every discipline of study, AIGC provides
scholarship support to help these pioneers in their own right
on their path toward success.
continue to be the least represented of all minority groups in the
country within fields requiring advanced degrees. It is estimated
that nearly 50 percent of Indian students across the nation do not
finish high school. Of those who do graduate from high school, only
17 percent will go on to any form of college, compared with a national
average of 62 percent, according to a 1999 Indian Country Today
AIGC seeks out strategic partners with national Indian student organizations.
comes the job in the workforce pool. At the national level, weve
faced a wavering economic climate for years. This has created a
challenging environment for job seekers nationwide, many of whom
are stepping into the workforce for the first time after obtaining
a college education. Even still, we are proud to count presidential
advisors, successful lawyers, active policy makers, hard-working
health professionals, leading educators and cutting edge scientists
among our funded alumni. AIGC utilizes these alumni and others
who support our mission to provide our students with the
mentorship and academic support to best position them for a successful
entry into the workforce.
may not have a future in revising childrens rhymes, but as
director of AIGC, I am confident in the AI/AN trailblazers within
the society of higher education. AIGC offers the tools and support
necessary for entry into post-secondary education, but it is ultimately
the students drive that brings them to the commencement walk.
2009, AIGC awarded 401 graduate and professional degree scholarships
and 32 undergraduate scholarships. The AIGC Scholars provided more
than 500 scholarships to students pursuing both undergraduate and
graduate degrees. In 2010, our goal is to continue building relationships
with companies that are proven advocates for higher education
creating additional scholarships and opportunities for educational
support to our constituents. Together, we will demonstrate a strong
commitment to higher education and American Indian leadership development
through continued scholarship awards and mentoring opportunities.
Deloria is director of the American Indian Graduate Center, a national
organization headquartered in Albuquerque, N.M. that provides scholarships
to American Indian and Alaska Native students pursuing graduate
and professional degrees.
Indian Graduate Center
The American Indian Graduate Center is a national organization headquartered
in Albuquerque, New Mexico providing educational assistance to American
Indian and Alaska native graduate students throughout the country.
Since its founding in 1969, AIGC has awarded more than 15,000 scholarships
totaling over $44 million to graduate students in all fields of