Meghan Wright and Cara Sue Owings are the winners of the 2013 Rodney T. Mathews Jr. Scholarship and will each receive a $10,000 award toward their higher education.
The scholarship is open to all enrolled members of the more than 100 federally recognized tribes in California.
“Over the past nine years, Morongo has awarded $300,000 in scholarships to Native American students from across California to help improve their access to a college education so that they can secure a better future for their families and their communities,” said Morongo Tribal Chairman Robert Martin in a news release. “Native American students are the most underrepresented and underserved group in colleges and universities across the country. We are hopeful that our ongoing education programs like the Rodney T. Mathews Jr. Scholarship will help to reverse those trends.”
Wright, of the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians, is attending Loma Linda University and working toward an Associate of Science degree in physical therapy. Her goal is to get a bachelor’s in kinesiology and to work in the Native healthcare system.
“It’s overwhelming to receive this kind of support in my journey to secure a higher education so that I can one day help improve the health and wellbeing of our tribal communities,” Wright said in the release. “I am very grateful to Morongo and the tribe’s commitment to helping Native American students succeed.”
Owings, of the Smith River Rancheria, is working toward a bachelor’s degree in Native American Studies at Humboldt State University. Her goal is to get a master’s in Strategic Sustainability and to work within Native communities.
“I want to thank Morongo for their support and encouragement in helping me attain my educational goals,” Owings said. “I’m honored to be a recipient of a Rodney T. Mathews Jr. Scholarship this year and I intend to use the skills and knowledge I develop over the coming years to help serve the Native American community.”
According to the U.S. Department of Education, less than 1 percent of the nation’s college students are Native American. According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, just 15 percent of American Indians have bachelor’s degrees. Morongo issues these scholarships, not only to honor Rodney T. Mathews, a Morongo tribal member and former judge who passed away in 2004, but also to help prepare more Native students for the future.