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September 5, 2019
woman putting a patterned cloth around another woman
Mia Holt and Kim Harjo at the Native American Scholarship and Awards Banquet.

By Tamara Linse

There is no doubt that scholarships change lives. Students’ stories are incredibly heart-rending but also incredibly uplifting—but so, too, are the stories of those who provide the scholarships that help these students achieve their dreams.

Donors were once students. They remember how challenging it was, and so they decide to set up a scholarship fund. Maybe they always dreamed of going to college but weren’t able to. Maybe they started but then a family crisis forced them to give up their dream of earning a degree. Maybe they had to work their way through and barely scraped by. Maybe they have always been huge admirers of Native culture and want to contribute. Maybe a whole group of people came together to pool their support.

Here are some of the inspiring donor stories behind scholarships that help the Native American student community.


two women sitting, one in a Wyoming t-shirt
Northern Arapaho Endowment Scholar Alyson Sounding Sides.

The Northern Arapaho Endowment

The inaugural University of Wyoming scholarship for Native students was the Northern Arapaho Endowment. The idea first surfaced in 1984, but it wasn’t until 1987, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the University of Wyoming, that these plans came to fruition, due to much hard work by the Northern Arapaho Business Council. The conjunction of a settlement awarded to the Arapaho tribe, the Centennial Campaign to raise funds for scholarships, and state matching established this $1 million scholarship endowment, which benefits Northern Arapaho students at UW and UW–Casper. The market value of this 30-year-old fund is in excess of $2 million, and it provides an amazing $90,000 a year in scholarship support. It has supported over 250 students since its inception.


The Chief Washakie Endowment

Beginning in 1997, a statue of Eastern Shoshone Chief Washakie was commissioned and placed in Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C., the second Wyoming individual to be memorialized there. Full-sized replicas were placed in the Wyoming State Capitol and at Fort Washakie. The funds allocated by the Legislature and raised from private donations exceeded what was needed for the project, and so in 2003 the Chief Washakie Foundation worked to establish a $400,000 scholarship endowment, including state matching, to help Chief Washakie’s descendants and others with significant ties to the Wind River Indian Reservation.

woman sitting
Chief Washakie Scholar Wolf Star Duran.


The Frank and Cynthia McCarthy Fund

The Frank and Cynthia McCarthy Fund was established in 1993 by the McCarthys. The fund not only supports scholarships but also can be used for other needs of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Program. Dubbed “the Dean of Western Action Painters,” Frank was an internationally renowned Western artist who passed away in 2002. Born in New York City, Frank began as a commercial illustrator of movie posters and then moved to Sedona, Ariz., for a fine art career that portrayed Plains Indians, mountain men and the military in action. Cynthia (Bennett) is an artist as well, focusing on abstract landscapes. The McCarthys focused their philanthropy on supporting Native American communities, the subject of Frank’s life’s work.


The Robert W. Winner Memorial Scholarship

Robert “Bob” Winner was fascinated by Native American culture, and so his wife, Cherie Winner, endowed this scholarship in his name in 1995. Bob was a distinguished wildlife biologist and research professor at Miami University and then at UW. Tragically, he drowned in a fly-fishing accident in western Wyoming. “He had a lifelong interest in American Indians and had made contributions to the Wind River reservation,” Cherie said at the time. “This scholarship is something Bob was always interested in doing.” Cherie is associate director of research communications at Penn State  and an award-winning children’s author.


The John and Ada Thorpe Scholarship

The John and Ada Thorpe Scholarship was established in 2000 with 1,600 shares of Automatic Data Processing stock, just after John’s death. Donors are Louise T. and John M. Crissman, the Thorpes’ daughter and son-in-law. John Thorpe earned a degree in forestry and operated a nursery near Rochester, New York, and John and Ada were lifelong supporters of education. The Crissmans established this scholarship for Native American students, and they also established a scholarship in honor of  John’s father, UW philosophy professor Paul Crissman.


The Winifred Snyder Yaap Memorial Scholarship for Native Americans

The Winifred Snyder Yaap Memorial Scholarship was created in 2007 by Winifred’s brother Douglas S. Snyder. The Snyders were born in Utah, grew up in Casper, and often passed through the Wind River Indian Reservation and admired those who lived there. Winifred, called “Susie,” attended UW and married Casper attorney Jerry Yaap, while Douglas earned his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Washington and taught at a historically black college, Bowie State University, in Washington, D.C.

man sitting in a rock
Dennis Makeshine, recipient of the Richard and Judith Agee and Marian Espach Cordiner scholarships.


The Richard and Judith Agee Scholarship for Native American Students

Longtime UW engineering supporters Dick and Judy Agee created the latest scholarship that supports UW’s Native American students—the Richard and Judith Agee Scholarship for Native American Students, with first preference for those in the College of Engineering and Applied Science. Dick graduated from UW with a bachelor’s and master’s in petroleum engineering and worked in the oil and gas industry for many years. He also served in the Wyoming Governor’s Energy, Engineering, STEM Integration Task Force and the UW Foundation Board of Directors. Judy graduated from UW with a degree in English, is an emeritus member of the UW Art Museum National Advisory Board, and owns and operates Lerant, a business selling home décor.


Additional scholarships that support Native American students include the Gary Glascock Scholarship, the Jim and Beverly Young Scholarship in Engineering, and the Marian Espach Cordiner Scholarship Fund. The most recent scholarship, established by Sky People Higher Education and the Northern Arapaho Tribe, will be used to support Northern Arapaho students at UW.

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