Kathryn Howard’s greatest role model is someone she has never met.
“Although I never had the privilege of meeting my great grandfather,” Howard said, “he taught me that with careful thought and determination, one person really can make a difference.”
Deeply proud of her Native American heritage, which Howard said is all about “family values, standing together and standing up for each other,” she is committed to honoring her family’s legacy by standing with other underrepresented groups to help them seek justice.
“Through my great grandfather’s passing down of tribal stories,” she said, “I have learned what it means to be a true American, and I hope someday to make a meaningful contribution to society.”
At the young age of 21, Howard – a member of the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska – is not only living out but already proving the wisdom of her great grandfather’s words.
As a leader in student government at Binghamton University, where she is currently a junior majoring in political science, Howard not only envisions for herself a future career in public policy, but is already succeeding in effecting change on the campus of this prestigious public university in upstate New York.
One project of which she is especially proud is the “Dirt Path Initiative,” through which her tireless efforts as a legislative delegate in the student assembly resulted in the transformation of a formerly unsafe dirt trail heavily used by students into a more formal, paved walkway.
“Reflecting on this outcome, I realize that it has involved so much more than the construction of a walkway,” Howard said. “It has helped me discover that the road to making this kind of change is often arduous and ‘unpaved,’ but it is what I enjoy doing most of all.”
Howard said that her career in student government – much less her college education altogether – would not have been possible without the scholarship assistance that she has received through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), especially the Native American Education Grant (NAEG).
The Native American Education Grant, which is awarded annually on a funds available basis through the PC(USA)’s Office of Financial Aid for Studies, was created for Native American and Alaska natives pursuing full‐time post‐secondary education attending a college or university in the U.S. Although preference in awarding is given to members of PC(USA) congregations, Native American students from all tribal backgrounds and faith traditions are encouraged to apply.
“Paying for college can be a struggle,” said Howard, who currently holds down three different jobs on campus. “To receive this grant is amazing, but the fact that it relates to both my faith and my heritage makes it even better.”
A member of the Harrison (N.Y.) Presbyterian Church in Hudson River Presbytery, Howard said that her home congregation and her pastor, Tom Unkenholz, have helped her to develop spiritually. “It’s been fantastic to have this support system back at home where everyone in the church is praying for all of us college students,” she said.
As Howard prepares to graduate in 2012, after which she hopes to pursue a career in public policy, she gratefully acknowledged the PC(USA) in helping to make her college education possible. “The church’s generosity has made a huge difference in my life,” she said, “and I will continue to rely on the strength of my faith as I try to walk in the footsteps of my great grandfather.”
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For a complete list of criteria for the Native American Education Grant (NAEG) or to download an application, available April 1, 2011, visit the website. The NAEG will provide up to 30 grants for 2011-2012.