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First American Indian Scholars Class Graduates from Oklahoma City University
OKLAHOMA CITY – The first group of students to earn college degrees through Oklahoma City University’s American Indian Scholars program will graduate Saturday. The university will award diplomas to eight scholars at 11 a.m. in the Henry J. Freede Wellness and Activity Center. Devon Chairman and CEO J. Larry Nichols will give the commencement address. During their four years at OCU, the inaugural AIS class has taken an active role in campus life and in their local community. “Each of these students has contributed significantly to the campus community and provided a wonderful foundation for those students who follow them,” said Clinton Normore, director of multicultural student affairs and the American Indian Scholarship program at OCU. “They are a tribute to their families, their communities and the OCU family. They are a testament to ideals and the mission of Oklahoma City University and will return to their respective communities with a spirit of servant leadership.” Kimberly Begay, a graduating AIS scholar, said the program has made her a stronger leader. “It’s given me a lot of opportunities to be a part of something,” she said. “I liked being part of the program while it’s new.” Begay, who is Navajo, earned Bachelor of Science degrees in mathematics and secondary education. She said the inaugural class of AIS scholars has been a tight-knit family and has enjoyed serving as mentors to the younger AIS scholars. Begay knew she wanted to pursue a mathematics degree in college, but only decided recently to go into teaching. “After I took a couple of education classes at OCU and saw the love my professors had for it, I was hooked,” she explained. Begay has accepted a position to teach eighth grade math at Taft Middle School in Oklahoma City. Sponsored by the Chickasaw Nation, the AIS program gives up to 15 American Indian students the opportunity to study at OCU each year. For more information about the program, visit www.okcu.edu/students/multicultural/ais.aspx or call (405) 208-5750. Following is a list of graduating AIS scholars with their majors, hometowns and tribal affiliations. AIS scholar Leslie Ketcher graduated last year after finishing her nursing degree in three years. • Kimberly Begay – Navajo, B.S. mathematics and secondary education, Fort Thompson, S.D.; • Gabrielle Gomez – Kiowa, B.S. business administration with a minor in Spanish, Lawton; • Leila Newton – Choctaw, B.A. mass communications, Norman; • Kendall Old Crow – Cheyenne, B.S. nursing, Edmond; • William Redwine – Choctaw, B.S. business administration and MBA, Kingfisher; • Elizabeth Roberts – Choctaw, B.A. mass communications, Norman; • Jaime Thomas – Creek, B.S. chemistry, Sapulpa; and • Rachel Williams – Chickasaw, B.A. mass communications with a minor in theatre, Ardmore.