Research shows that nearly 50% of Native American students drop out of high school. Of those who do graduate, only 5% go on directly to four-year colleges.
We created the Eve’s Fund scholarship fund in 2011 as a way to address the significant educational needs of high school students on the Navajo Nation.
Our first recipients were all students at Navajo Preparatory School in Farmington, N.M. At this academically challenging residential high school, nearly 90% of the graduates go on to higher education.
In 2013, we expanded our scholarship program to include financial assistance to students with disabilities attending college or post-secondary technical programs. Recipients can use scholarship funds for school fees, books, or other needed school supplies.
GALLUP — Two recent high school graduates received $500 each to help them pay for college from the first scholarship dedicated to students with disabilities from Eve’s Fund for Native American Health Initiatives.
Eve’s Fund teamed up with the New Mexico Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, which helps people with disabilities find employment, to establish the scholarship. Eve’s Fund has awarded scholarships in the past, but this is the first year it has given money specifically to help students with disabilities.
“I know the students are very much appreciative,” said Ela Yazzie-King, an Eve’s Fund board member and rehab counselor for the Gallup satellite office for Vocational Rehabilitation. “It’s a little bit more that they can do with that money.”
The two students are Andre Edwards, a Gallup High School graduate who is attending University of New Mexico-Gallup, and Shane Curley, a Crownpoint High School graduate who is attending Navajo Technical University.
Yazzie-King said both students have a learning disability and are on her caseload with Vocational Rehabilitation. She explained that because of their disabilities, they need a bit of extra help with certain things, and that’s where the program comes in.
“They’re very motivated,” Yazzie-King said. “They understand their limitations, but they are willing to try new things even if they’re not sure, which is where we try to assist them. Both are really nice young boys. They’re not too articulate, but they have a goal and a dream.”
She has been working with both students for more than a year since they were in high school and will continue to do so.
“The intent is basically to ensure they will succeed in a post secondary or vocational program,” she said.
Ultimately, the key is helping them find a job in their desired career path and offer training so they can learn their job duties and maintain their employment.
Yazzie-King said clients sometimes have short-term memories or need extra help in reading, writing and math. Because of the potential difficulties with their language arts proficiency, Vocational Rehabilitation can help clients fill out job applications or navigate an employer’s website.
Once clients find employment, job developers monitor them and offer job training to help them get accustomed to their new duties.
“We gradually step back so the student can take on the responsibility and do the job on their own,” Yazzie-King said.
After a client holds a job for 90 days, their case is considered closed. If they lose the job, however, they can come back to Vocational Rehabilitation for assistance.
Yazzie-King said clients take pride in their jobs, which others may get bored with.
“They make sure to do the best they can,” she said.
She said the program works with any individuals with physical or mental disabilities, including veterans. The New Mexico Department of Education funds the program. It also receives other state and federal funds.
The Gallup satellite office for the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation is located at 312 E. Nizhoni Blvd. Information: Vocational Rehabilitation, 505-722-6045; Eve’s Fund Website: evecrowellsfund.org; www.dvrgetsjobs.com
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