Cobell Scholars Show Thanks for Scholarship Month

The Cobell Scholarship Team asked Cobell Scholars to share some expressions of gratitude during November, which is National Scholarship Month, Native American Heritage Month, and Elouise’s Birth Month. This is what they said. 


Cobell Scholar: Lindsey Hancock

Tribal Affiliation: Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

Institution: University of New Mexico School of Medicine

“I am honored to have received the Cobell scholarship as both an undergraduate and a medical student. I don’t know how I would have been able to pay for my education without these generous awards.  I plan to keep Elouise Cobell’s legacy of activism alive by becoming a physician who practices in medically under-served areas and who fiercely advocates for the health and welfare of my Native patients.” 


Cobell Scholar: William Wilson, III

Tribal Affiliation: Northern Cheyenne Tribe

Institution: Northwest Indian College

“Cobell Scholarship funding has impacted my academic endeavors with resourcefulness to increase resiliency of my culture, identity, and ancestral language. The importance of Elouise Cobell’s legacy of protecting and defending both constitutional rights and connections to Indigenous culture, identity, and language strengthens my Cheyenne roles and responsibilities. The exemplary effort by legacy leaders like Elouise give me strength to persist for American values while having pride for my Cheyenne way of life, including preserving that heritage.”


Cobell Scholar: Sandra Yellowhorse

Tribal Affiliation: Diné Nation (Navajo)

Institution: University of Auckland, Te Puna Wānanga, School of Māori and Indigenous Education

“The Cobell Scholarship changed my life. I never would have dreamed that one day I would be living in Aotearoa- New Zealand and working on articulating Indigenous perspectives that impact educational planning for children with special needs. Throughout my undergraduate and master’s program, I read about all the incredible work that was happening in Aoteaora, and how Māori people were at the forefront of language revitalization, Indigenous methodologies, and crafting policy through their activism in upholding the Treaty of Waitangi. Their work inspired me to think about new possibilities for my own people, which deeply impacted my research. Living here now and seeing it firsthand, I get to witness that incredible work in action.  I am listening, learning and talking with people whose work has influenced my thinking for years. I am seeing the advocacy and transformation of education, policy and life for Indigenous people, and it is inspiring. Without the Cobell Scholarship, I would not have had the opportunity or financial backing to travel to and live in Auckland. Furthermore, without the compelling generosity and hospitality of our Māori allies, I would not have this opportunity. As a grateful guest in Aoteaora, building relationships and forging Indigenous solidarity definitely is an important dimension of creating work that impacts us all collectively as Indigenous people. We are making and sharing knowledge. We are rising together and building connections across oceans. These relationships are what build potential to continue the work of Indigenous Nation building and self-determination globally.

Elouise Cobell crafted a legacy of perseverance and service. When I reflect upon her life story, I am reminded of how her commitment changed the lives of countless people, many of whom she would never meet. The scope of her work touched entire communities, families, and children and she did it out of love and selflessness. To her, it was about principle and values. Elouise Cobell dedicated her life to seeking justice for Indigenous people. She was quoted in the New York Times as saying, “I never started this case with any intentions of being a hero. I just wanted this case to give justice to people that didn’t have it.” (Oct. 2011) The legacy of Elouise Cobell can be carried forward by all of us, in working in service for our communities. Her legacy inspires me to continue to seek justice in our communities, to remember our history and ancestors, and to carry the fight forward. Studying abroad in another country, I am comforted by Elouise Cobell’s story. Through the difficulty of her work she held onto the love of her people, her identity, and her roots to her homeland. She held onto her aspirations for Indigenous people. Her gift of vision and hope are precious things.  These values give me strength to continue my work as Indigenous scholar. I offer my sincere thanks to Elouise Cobell for teaching us, for sharing her gifts and talents to help others, for her perseverance and for leading by example. Ahéheeh!”


Cobell Scholar: Emily Edenshaw-Chafin

Tribal Affiliation: Haida

Institution: Simon Fraser University

“I was very lucky to receive a Cobell Scholarship the last year of my masters. I was able to travel to school and come home without having the financial stress that came in the first year when I was without funding. I am fighting to bring our indigenous languages back into homes, schools, and public spaces. This entire nation is on Indigenous territory and that needs to be recognized in English and the Indigenous languages of the territory. Elouise Cobell’s activism is an inspiration for this fight. We must keep our languages, arts, and culture alive.”


Cobell Scholar: Nathan Blackie

Tribal Affiliation: Diné Nation (Navajo)

Institution: Southern New Hampshire University

“Receiving this scholarship has meant that I am now able to fulfill my dreams at 43 years old with my undergrad degree. When I graduate the possibilities are endless so I plan on creating a platform for young minds to dream and dream big to create a promising future for themselves and those that they love. The Cobell Scholarship has a deeper meaning because it comes from a positive place to enhance and teach younger generations to fight with knowledge and not violence. Collegiately it has done wonders for me, and helped me in understanding that there is more to life then black and white. I’d advise other students to stay proactive and prepared for due dates and set priorities to always be in the know.”


Cobell Scholar: Anthony Mota

Tribal Affiliation: Robinson Rancheria of Pomo Indians

Institution: Cosumnes River College

“I was raised on my mother’s reservation, Elem Indian Colony, a bit sheltered and surrounded by the unwavering support of my family. When I took the risk of pursuing higher education I was not accustomed to operating out of that interdependent lifestyle. I felt disconnected in a way that I know a majority of my peers who don’t belong to a tribe or a community can’t understand.  With the encouragement of the Native American Higher Education Resource Center at Cosumnes River College I decided to apply for the Cobell Scholarship. From receiving essay writing tips from the staff at the center on campus to navigating financial aid barriers with the Cobell team I started to regain that sense of tribal collectivism that I thought I lost. If it wasn’t for the process of applying to the Cobell Scholarship I don’t think I would have actively searched for my Native community here in Sacramento which has impacted my student experience in a profound way. Once I received my scholarship funds the weight of my financial hardships evaporated. I no longer had to worry about prioritizing buying books and software or asking for extensions to pay my living expenses. I was free to focus on my studies, and saw them not as burdens but as opportunities to develop myself which has made my collegiate experience much more positive. For scholarship applicants, I would encourage setting alerts on all your devices to keep track of important deadlines as well as keeping a checklist of all the documents you may need to submit.”


IEI and the Cobell Scholarship Team are grateful for many things, but our brilliant Scholars are number one. Thank you to the Scholars who shared their gratitude and their stories. 

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