by Amy Hundley
One of the Indian Affairs Committee’s raisons d’etre is supporting the education of Native American students. Friends at one time participated in the “education as civilization” model common to that time. Nowadays, we regret that aspect of our history, but we recognize that education is a key to empowerment, and the Indian Affairs Committee seeks to further access and opportunity for Native students in our yearly meeting area through providing small stipends to qualifying candidates. The amount is never huge—about $400 at most—and fluctuates, depending on the number of qualified candidates, as our budget is fixed, but the students who receive it have communicated to us that every small amount makes a difference to them. In the last two years we have funded new first-year undergraduates and masters and Ph.D. candidates, engineering students interested in cybersecurity, future social workers, visual artists, and an apparel design doctoral candidate working on regalia-making as practice and healing.
Knowing that we would be able to share some of our work in Spark, stipend clerk Amy Hundley reached out to some recent recipients to find out how the stipend had impacted their educational journey. Jaiden Mitchell, a graduate student in film production at Syracuse University, noted that due to “limited funding for graduate students compared to undergraduate sources, the stipend has been a very valuable funding resource [that] has helped with my various expenses for class such as books, software subscriptions, etc. Big or small, every amount of funding has been useful.”
Paige Printup, a recent masters graduate in sports management from Niagara University who received funding in several cycles, added, “Whether it was to buy books, use to get to school, help make a school payment, etc any little bit helps. I am the first person in my family [to] graduate college not once, not twice but three times (associate, bachelors, and masters). So paying for school was all up to me and made me nervous about having to get loans. That’s why I say any little bit helps... I can’t thank you guys enough for the help throughout the years!”
And Danielle McKean, a new masters in social work candidate at Buffalo State and mom to a child under two, said, “I started from the bottom up and having the stipend has helped me tremendously in getting care for my son, bus passes, transportation back and forth, getting my books. I depend on it and I’m grateful to receive it. Knowing I’m financially secure takes a lot of pressure off me.” McKean added that despite a daycare schedule that required some finessing for class time, she would be going for her masters and intends to use her degree to return to the Tuscarora reservation as a counselor so that, in her words, “the mothers and fathers feel comfortable having someone to talk to.”