Success Stories

Do it like a Champion



Deedra This amazing young woman wrapped up a stellar high school academic with a 4.5 GPA.

Deedra is a young Navajo who recently graduated from a high school on the New Mexico/Arizona border.

Our staff took advantage of their New Mexico site visits to orchestrate a surprise “You’ve Been Awarded” visit with Deedra.

This amazing young woman wrapped up a stellar high school academic with a 4.5 GPA. She was quickly recruited by a college in Oklahoma to pursue a degree in Biology, with plans to ultimately become a doctor. She wanted to give back to her community that had given to her.

We scheduled the meeting with Deedra in Gallup, about 30 minutes south of the community where she lives with her step-family. Under the pretense that that AIEF staff were conducting some follow-up visits with “potential applicants”, Deedra met up with us following some errands she was running. Like Kayleigh, she was handed an envelope and read the following words…

Dear Deedra, Congratulations! It is our honor to welcome you as a 2017-2018 Four-Year Scholarship recipient of the American Indian Education Fund.

After reading her award letter, her shy, quiet smile spoke volumes.


Overcoming Challenges

We knew from reviewing Deedra’s essay that her life had not easy and that she worked hard at all her accomplishments. She had stated, “Many of us face challenges in our formative years and we struggle with them. Some of those challenges might have changed who we are or how we later approach life.”

Her challenges involved paralysis at a young age. She confessed that she didn’t have a normal childhood. When her parents divorced, she was taken back and forth between both of them. She added that, “I had to grow up a lot faster than usual kids, I didn’t have much of a childhood.”

A car accident at 7-years-old paralyzed Deedra from their neck down for two years and the doctors felt there would be little chance of her walking. Her father struggled with caring for her and battling his own health issues, so Deedra moved out in with her aunt and extended family. This decision provided the stability she needed and Deedra began to look at each day as a new challenge to be conquered.

Deedra and her giftbox My only strength is hope. I know that once I am given an opportunity to achieve my goal I take full advantage of what has been given to me…”

Needless to say, the doctors were wrong. Deedra found her strength — physically and mentally — not only walk, but to run and do it like a champion!

Deedra explained, “The next few school years, I came back determined to strive for excellence in every way which I could possibly achieve.”

She envisioned herself taking on the next challenge of attending college. She knew they were looking for disciplined and responsible women. She had big dreams ahead of her. She was convinced that all her experiences prepared her mentally, emotionally, and physically to accomplish something big — something greater than anything she had ever set out to do.

The one weakness Deedra shared in her application was financing her college dreams. She indicated, “I am afraid of not knowing if I’ll be able to make it to college with enough money to support myself, alone. My only strength is hope. I know that once I am given an opportunity to achieve my goal I take full advantage of what has been given to me…”

These words and her entire essay made the AIEF scholarship committee decision a fairly easy one. They also felt strongly that this young woman could accomplish many things if she chose to put her mind and heart into it. The committee selected her to receive one of the 10 special Four Year Scholarship to pursue her undergraduate work.


Laptop Winner

Deedra running cross-country We are also excited to see how Deedra progresses as she crosses each finish line she sets in front her!

Good things come to those who work hard. Just recently Deedra received another gift from AIEF. During Native American Heritage month she, along with other freshman scholars, was awarded a laptop computer! This tool is a must have for college students and without one can keep many away from their dreams. Deedra was still without one for her fall semester and shared with AIEF: “The laptop will mostly help me with my homework, with taking notes in class, and also with doing assignments between classes at school. I will also be able to do my studies on my laptop, during visits home to see my family.”


Training for Cross-Country

And as far as her running goes, Deedra is already making an impact on the cross country team. A recent coach’s post on social media provides a glimpse of her contributions thus far:

“Deedra is one of the most talented ones out there. She was a little behind on summer training, but by conference, she looked like a runner! This gal is as good as she wants to be. She's growing more and more accustomed to the training and the team, it'll be exciting to see how she progresses”.

We are also excited to see how Deedra progresses as she crosses each finish line she sets in front her!

Knowing the generous support by way of caring AIEF donors has transformed her financial weakness into a strength. This will ultimately help her achieve her goal of a college degree and then running her next life race — whatever and wherever it may be!

]]