by Faith Price


This fall, WSU’s Tribal Nation Building Leadership Program welcomed its largest cohort since the program began in Fall 2013. The WSU Tribal Nation Building Leadership Program provides students with leadership skills and knowledge based on tribal principles and values.

The program was developed in consultation with and upon the recommendation of the Native American Advisory Board to the President. The students take one to two classes together each semester as a cohort, including such topics as “Native Identity,” “Federal Indian Policy,” and Leadership Theories for Tribal Nation Building.” The last three courses they take center around research and the students select a topic of their choosing to conduct an in-depth research project.

The program is based around four key components of Native student development and achievement: scholarship, membership, guardianship, and stewardship.  Leadership students apply to the program through the MOU Tribal Scholarship, which includes obtaining a nomination from their tribal government.

Below are the members of the new Tribal Nation Building cohort of 2016. Congratulations on your selection!

Scott Abrahamson

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Tribe: Colville, Spokane

"My career goal is to get an engineering degree from Washington State University.  From there, I want to come back to the reservation and work for the Bureau of Reclamation as a mechanical engineer."

Kiana Brown

Major: Exploring
Tribe: Salish/Kootenai
"After receiving my degree, I will return to my reservation to share my knowledge to improve the community around as well as help strive for greatness within the tribe.  Change is a constant; I plan to work for the tribe to provide the change needed to move the nation forward."

Rhea Cree

Major: Earth and Environmental Science
Tribe: Yakama
"I plan to pursue my bachelor's degree in the natural resource field and eventually continue on to my master's degree in environmental studies, and ultimately a juris doctorate in environmental law.  I am very motivated, not just for myself, but for my own children and future generations."

Shanndyn Fyant

Major: Exploring
Tribe: Salish/Kootenai
"The career goals that I have planned for myself are to get a quality education at WSU in whatever degree I decide to pursue. I am considering being a pharmacist; I have selected these goals because I enjoy chemistry, and being a pharmacist is a quality job that could support me, my family, and a family."

Quincy George

Major: Business
Tribe: Umatilla
"I plan on graduating with a BA degree in business administration from Washington State University.  By obtaining a meaningful degree from WSU, I can continue to contribute to the growth and future of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation."

Jaissa Grunlose

Major: Exploring
Tribe: Colville
"My career goals are to be an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports-related injuries. I have continually been very intrigued by the human anatomy and I knew I wanted to go into the medical field, because of how challenging and competitive the field is today. I want to connect with other athletes and ultimately help people get better."

Jazmine Ike-Lopez

Major: Business
Tribe: Warm Springs
"After undergrad, I plan to continue on to get my master's of education in mathematics.  I've always wanted to be a teacher since I was a child.  The ability to help students pursue their career dreams is what I find to be truly amazing."

Kerah Iyall

Major: Elementary Education
Tribe: Cowlitz
"My love for learning and education has inspired me to share my passion with students of my own by becoming an elementary school teacher. I have decided on this goal because I wish to provide the future generation with a qualtiy and vibrant education that creates purposeful and ambition citizens."

Raymond Matt

Major: Sport Science
Tribe: Spokane
"Career goals that I would like to pursue would have to be sports nutrition, pre-physical therapy, and physical therapy.  A way I hope to contribute to my tribe would be coming back to where I grew up to help my community with injuries, and showing that even though we are considered a minority, we have the ability to do and be great things."

Aaron "AJ" Miles

Major: Accounting
Tribe: Nez Perce
"My overall dream is to complete my bachelor's degree, then seek a master's and even a PhD.  I plan to use my education to give back to my people, to be of service in this ever-changing environment, to impress upon being sustainable, to have lifestyles conducive to the teachings of our ancestors."

Savannah Stensgar

Major: Chemistry, Pre-Pharmacy
Tribe: Coeur D'Alene
"My dad has been on the Indian Health Board for many years and I have listened to how they wish their own tribal members would further their education in the health industry.  I plan to do my internship back at the tribe and give back for all they have done for me."

Urijah Willis

Major: Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
Tribe: Quinault

"My career goals consist of obtaining my wildlife ecology and conservation degree in order to return to my tribe and become a scientist at the Quinault Department of Natural Resources. I am a Quinault tribal member who possesses values that entail protecting my community and the land we live on.