Four Columbians recognized by the Udall Undergraduate Scholarship

Congratulations to the 2022 Columbians recognized by the Udall Undergraduate Scholarship!

Pictured from left to right, Kianna Pete, CC'23, NOELLE FILES, GS’23, and Grace Fox, CC'23 (Not pictured: Matthew Schwitzer, CC'23).

Congratulations to the four Columbians recognized by the Udall Undergraduate Scholarship

This spring, the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation (Udall Foundation) announced the 55 students selected as 2022 Udall Scholars and 55 students selected as Udall Honorable Mentions. Applicants were selected on the basis of their commitment to careers in the environment, Tribal public policy, or Native health care; leadership potential; record of public service; and academic achievement. Since the program’s inception in 1996, the Udall Foundation has awarded 1,843 Udall Scholarships and 1,224 Honorable Mentions. Learn more about the Udall Undergraduate Scholarship, meet the 2022 Scholars, and read the full press release here.

Meet the Columbians recognized by the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation this year!

Noelle Files, GS’23 of Houston, Texas, is a political science major and recognized with Honorable Mention by the Udall Scholarship this spring. Noelle’s collegiate journey began at Lone Star College in Texas, before enrolling at Columbia in 2020. As an undergraduate, Noelle has focused on human rights and American foreign policy, recognizing that the United States readily formulates its policy towards Native Nations from an international rather than a domestic perspective. Following graduation, Noelle plans to pursue a law degree where she will focus on Federal Indian law aiming to eventually serve as part of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai legal team representing tribal members living off-reservation and address policy issues impacting Native Americans at the local, state, and federal level. Noelle is a member of the Native American Council at Columbia, an active volunteer with the American Indian Center in Houston, and registered with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation in Montana. She has engaged in academic research and advocacy on the topic of Native American rights, delivered a speech at the United Nations and as a TEDx speaker at Lone Star College in Texas, and is currently working on a book project shedding light on US policy abuses suffered by Native Americans.

Noelle’s advice for anyone considering applying to a fellowship?

Writing the responses to the scholarship application also helped me to clarify my vision and better define my future trajectory. I think looking at the fellowship application as an opportunity to reconnect with your vision is a great way to receive a benefit from the experience regardless of the competition results.

Grace Fox CC’23 of Edmond, Oklahoma, is pursuing a double major in psychology and ethnicity and race studies with a specialization in Native American and Indigenous Studies. Grace is an enrolled member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma and an aspiring Federal Indian and Tribal lawyer. In the future, through non-profit management, policy creation, and community-centered organizing, she plans to work with Native American youth to create tailored programming to aid students in educational success while combating generational trauma through the normalization of mental health and destigmatization of mental illness. Currently, Grace is the Community Chair for Columbia's Native American Council, a member of the CSER Student Advisory Board, and works as an educator through organizations such as the NYCLU, Project Rousseau, Matriculate, and Edmond Public Schools Indian Education.

As a 2022-2023 Udall Scholar, Grace will travel to Tucson, Arizona in August 2022 for the annual Udall Scholar Orientation. In Tucson, Grace will meet this year’s cohort and program alumni, learn more about the Udall legacy of public service, and interact with community leaders in environmental fields, Tribal health care, and governance. She is excited for the opportunities and experiences she will have access to as a fellow and, perhaps most excited about, the opportunity to join a network of passionate, tenacious, and optimistic leaders seeking to uplift Native American communities through public policy and public health. See Grace's Scholar bio here!

Grace’s advice to someone considering applying to a fellowship?

“When applying, be true to yourself, your story, your dreams, and your accomplishments. Taking the time to fully represent yourself within the application is the best piece of advice I can offer!”

Kianna Pete, CC’23 of Farmington, New Mexico is a political science and race and ethnicity studies major, with a specialization in Indigenous and Native Studies. This spring she was recognized with Honorable Mention by the Udall Scholarship. As the co-president of the Columbia Native American Council, Chair of the Columbia Mentoring Initiative Indigenous Family Tree, Recruitment Liaison of Indigenous Community Housing, and intern in Columbia Undergraduate Admissions, and having previously worked with her district's congressman and intersectional non-profit organizations in Indian country, Kianna plans to continue to address racial disparities in tribal education policy throughout her career through engaging tribal communities as a legal representative of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, in the Bureau of Indian Education. Today and in the future, she seeks to protect the self-determination rights for tribes within the education field and is committed to thoughtfully representing, recognizing, and protecting the sovereign rights of Indigenous communities who continue to be left out of policy altogether.

Kianna’s advice to future fellowship applicants?

“My advice is to ensure you are seeking out opportunities that best suit your interests and contact URF for help on applications. I struggled trying to sort through fellowships and learned along the way it best to apply to opportunities that will ultimately be beneficial to your passions. I also advise anyone applying to a fellowship to reach to URF who were tremendously helpful in giving me feedback on my applications.”

Matthew Schwitzer, CC’23 of Shawano, Wisconsin is pursuing a degree in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies. Working closely with members of his tribe within the Menominee Nation inspired Matthew to pursue investigative journalism and, as an aspiring journalist and documentary filmmaker, Matthew aims to shine light on indigenous issues around the world, with a particular focus on sustainability and environmental justice. He credits his educational pursuits at Columbia for pushing him to break out of a westernized, American framework of study, understanding, and perspective, and for allowing him to better grasp the issues of disparate peoples globally, while cultivating a depth of knowledge to connect the histories and cultures of otherwise dissimilar Indigenous peoples. At Columbia, Matthew works at the Columbia Daily Spectator’s Podcast Division and is an active member of the Columbia Native American Student Association.

To learn more about the Udall Scholarship, visit the URF website or schedule a meeting with a URF advisor!