Success Stories

Donate to Jay Jay entered his freshman year carrying an incredible 24 credits in his back pocket to get a head start.

We recently met with Jay on a Southern Arizona university campus to talk about his first few months as an official college student.

Jay entered his freshman year carrying an incredible 24 credits in his back pocket to get a head start on what he hoped would mature into a doctorate in Sports Medicine.

His mother always supported higher education. She was so dedicated to this important endeavor that she herself was working on a Graduate degree in Indian Education at a university in New Mexico.

Jay had really been a student all his life, with his grandparents as important teachers in life, culture, and traditions. He was proud of his heritage. Jay lost his grandmother to a drunk driver before he was ten, and then his grandfather to cancer a few years later. He remembered his grandfather’s insistence to, “believe in our religion and have faith in the future.”

To keep his days busy, Jay turned to his education and basketball as an outlet. He prided himself on “being an active member of my tribe… drug free and a good person.” These characteristics and family support got him through some difficult times and earned him a place at a university that boasted thirteen Native American-based clubs and organizations. There were 75 tribes represented on campus and a retention rate of nearly 76% for first- and second-year students. He also applied to Duke and Georgetown, where he was wait-listed.

Donate to Jay Jay prided himself on "being an active member of my tribe... drug free and a good person."

As Jay launched into finding the money to fund his education, his mother was helpful in organizing all the scholarships into a Microsoft Excel document. He said, “Everyone told me to go to school. My grandpa didn’t finish school and raised cattle; my Grandma went to BYU and graduated from nursing school, but it took 10 years. They gave me the mental strength; it’s the reason I have my name — to remember where I come from.”

The academic transition had been pretty easy considering all the college courses he took in his junior and senior years of high school. Still, Jay experienced some home-sickness in the beginning. He added, “Family weekend was tough.” He was thankful when his mother was able to visit him recently and was looking forward to the holiday break.

Jay recalled this past summer when his mother received the award letter from AIEF. He was attending summer school at the time, so she opened the letter. A simple “Sweet!” recognized that his dreams would become reality. When posed with the question, “what would you say to an AIEF donor,” Jay quickly responded, “Thank you so much for everything! [I have] so much gratitude and appreciation. Everything is coming together!”

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