Twentysomething Native American Angellisa Hoffman was born and raised in the White Mountain Apache tribe in Arizona. Her long-term goal is to have a job related to environmental or natural resources. For that vision to become a reality, she sees a university degree as a necessary part of her career path.
“I think one of the challenges would be going to college,” she said. “Many people don’t know that there is financial support out there, like scholarships and resources, for Native American students.”
In Ms. Hoffman’s case, USDA’s 1994 Tribal Scholars Program is providing crucial financial support. The program helps eligible Native American students get through college by paying for expenses such as tuition, fees, books, and housing. Her USDA sponsor is the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which is USDA’s primary private lands conservation agency.
USDA established the 1994 Tribal Land-Grant Colleges and Universities Program in 2009 with a focus on return on investment – USDA helps Native young people get through college and they, in turn, are in the pipeline to help meet USDA’s needs for employees to help with food, agriculture, and natural resource issues in Indian country.
And this program is perfect for someone like Ms. Hoffman, “My passion has always been outdoors with nature and agriculture.,” she said, “We have so many problems and issues that we deal with including the land, agriculture, water, air, power and energy. I want to figure out this problem and find a solution that we can utilize to mitigate this issue. … I have overcome so many obstacles and am still surprised that I made it this far.”
And, as she continues to pursue her higher education and career path, she knows she’s not only doing it for herself, “I hope that at the end of all this, I can encourage and empower other Native Americans and minorities, and diverse people from all cultural backgrounds to pursue higher education and obtain their degrees.”