May 5, 2009
Two A&S students have been selected to receive one of the most prestigious scholarships in the nation. SU juniors Aerica Banks and Tess Abrahamson-Richards are among only 80 students nationwide to be awarded the highly sought-after Morris K. Udall Scholarship. Banks and Abrahamson-Richards were chosen from a record-setting field of 515 applicants nominated from universities across the U.S. Seattle University is one of only a handful of institutions to have more than one Udall Scholar this year.
The Udall Scholarship, which provides up to $5,000 for one year, is awarded annually by the Morris K. Udall Foundation to students who are committed to careers related to the environment, or to Native American and Alaska Native students aspiring to careers related to tribal public policy.
"The guiding spirit of the Udall Foundation coincides well with SU's commitment to social and environmental justice," says Gordon Miller, who directs the university's Environmental Studies program and serves as the Udall campus representative. "We are extremely proud of both Tess and Aerica for making these values their own and for achieving this important early honor in what promise to be productive careers in public service."
Abrahamson-Richards, a double-major in Spanish and art history, hopes that the Udall Scholarship will be a catalyst for a future career as an education policy maker with the Bureau of Indian Education. "The Udall is a really wonderful validation for all of the work I've been doing for the past few years and a very exciting opportunity to meet others who are passionate about similar issues," says Abrahamson-Richards. "I am really honored to have received the Udall and am looking forward to being a part of the program this year."
Abrahamson-Richards serves as the co-president of Su's First Nations, a student group that centers on Native American heritage, culture, and contemporary social issues. She is also a recipient of multiple academic and leadership awards, including the SU Presidential, Ignatian, and Sue Naef scholarships.
For Banks, a junior in the Environmental Studies program, the Udall is one of a growing number of academic honors. Earlier this year, she was accepted to the Public Policy and International Affairs Summer Institute at Princeton University, and in March, she became SU's 13th recipient of the highly competitive Truman Scholarship. Banks hopes to work both domestically and internationally as a policy maker and an advocate for environmental justice.
"I hope to one day establish the sort of precedents in environmental justice policy that Senator Udall established with conservation and tribal policy," Banks says. "This award by the Udall Foundation is a great privilege and honor that I am thrilled to share with Tess, a classmate who is deeply passionate about environmental and social justice."
Both Abrahamson-Richards and Banks were nominated for the Udall Scholarship through SU's Office of Fellowships and worked closely with Fellowships Coordinator, Luke Green, and Miller.
The Udall Foundation is an independent federal agency that was created by Congress in 1992 to honor Congressman Udall's legacy of public service. During his three decades in the House of Representatives, Congressman Udall was a champion for environmental protection and for the rights of Native Americans and Alaska Natives.
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