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Amanda LeClair Named UW's Outstanding Graduating Woman

May 1, 2009
Amanda LeClair received the Rosemarie Martha Spitaleri Award as UW's outstanding graduating woman.

Amanda S. LeClair of Fort Washakie, who will graduate with honors this summer with a B.A. degree in English, received the Rosemarie Martha Spitaleri Award as the University of Wyoming's outstanding graduating woman.

The award, established in 1964, recognizes LeClair for exhibiting the finest leadership, academic integrity and citizenship qualities.

Zach Peters of Buffalo recieved the Tobin Memorial Award as the oustanding graduating man.

As an undergraduate, LeClair, the daughter of Iva and Tex LeClair of Fort Washakie, has received numerous academic awards, has been involved in many minority student activities and has volunteered both back home on the Wind River Indian Reservation and at UW.

"As a freshman, I was not sure what I was going to learn or achieve at the University of Wyoming," she says. "I discovered the tools I needed to create a strong foundation for my career in higher education."

She also has a double minor in creative writing and American Indian Studies.

Dolores Cardona, UW associate dean of students, says LeClair is a "superstar."

"Someone once commented to me once that they felt that ‘Amanda gets everything,' meaning she is so engaged that she is on everyone's radar screen," Cardona says. "They are right and to me it reflects Amanda's effort and excellence."

LeClair has been involved in many minority organizations on campus and has supported several causes to further the education of those who come from the reservation.
"Amanda's character and citizenship are excellent. She has a good sense of ethics/integrity, boundaries and is mindful of being a role model," Cardona adds. "She is friendly, open and engaging. She is clearly one of the best and brightest American Indian students on our campus at the undergraduate level."

This year LeClair completed a McNair Scholars Program project that gained national attention. LeClair's project, "Speaking out: The experience of Native students on a predominately White campus," was presented at two national conferences.

Coming from the Wind River Indian Reservation, LeClair admitted that she did not know if she would be a successful student without her family.

"My family members are my strongest support system and initially I had been scared of leaving them," she says. But she found support on the UW campus, including joining the Native American student group, Keepers of the Fire, because she grew up learning about the organization. She plans to earn a doctoral degree.

"I realize school is my priority and that is why I decided to attend college," she says. "I am not only doing this for myself, but for my community as well. Someday, I would like to return to my community and teach at the tribal college. I want to encourage Native youth to continue their education so we can have more individuals furthering their knowledge and giving back to their communities."

Posted on Friday, May 01, 2009

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