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The AIEF Programs

Scholarship Committee

Members of our Scholarship Committee donate their time and expertise to ensuring that we identify students who might have been overlooked by other programs, yet are likely to do well in college. Native American tribes are well-represented among the committee members. Many are enrolled tribal members, and all draw on their experience working with diverse populations to select and support scholarship recipients. Committee members also offer advice and guidance to our staff throughout the year.

Michael Begaye, Navajo (East Mesa, Arizona)
Michael Begaye
Michael Begaye is the Director of the American Indian Student Support Services within the College of Liberal Arts and Programs at Arizona State University. He coordinated the Native American Achievement Program at ASU for the past nine years. He served the Navajo Nation government in several capacities including the Director of the Navajo Nation Washington Office in Washington, D.C. He has also worked with the Navajo Area School Board Association, Inc and Shiprock Alternative Schools, Inc. As the Coordinator of the Native American Achievement Program, Michael works with first-time Native American freshmen, parents, ASU staff and faculty to help students be successful in their first year at ASU. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Secondary Education at Western New Mexico University of Silver City, New Mexico. He is from Cove, Arizona and is married to Sharon Clark-Begaye. Between them, they have five children and six grandchildren.

Jim Burns, Northern Cheyenne (Bozeman, Montana)
Jim Burns
Mr. Burns is an adjunct faculty member with the Native American Studies Department at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, He received his Masters Degree in counseling from MSU-Bozeman, he has worked the past ten years as advisor /counselor with the Native American student population at MSU. Additionally, he works closely with tribal communities and the seven tribal colleges on recruitment and retention issues. Mr. Burns also teaches a Native American persona development course, facilitates a weekly Native American support group, and serves as advisor for the American Indian Council, Native American Peer Advisors, and the American Indian Business Leaders groups. He is also the Board-Chair for the St. Labre Educational Association, which serves more than 800 students on the Northern Cheyenne and Crow reservations in southeast Montana.

JoAnn “Jojo” Ducharme, Salish (Anchorage, Alaska)
JoAnn DuCharme
JoJo is an enrolled member of the Salish Tribe of Montana. She has spent the last 30+ years living in Alaska and working in Alaska Native education. She is the proud mother of one son, Benjamin. Jo Jo lives in Anchorage, AK where she currently serves as the Associate Dean of Student Services and Enrollment Management for the College of Rural and Community Development for the University of Alaska. In addition to these duties, she is also the Director of Rural Student Services at UAF as well as an adjunct instructor UAF's School of Education and Alaska Native Studies departments. She teaches cross-cultural communications every semester as well as advising first time Alaska Native and rural freshman students. JoJo has B.Ed. in Secondary Education and a M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from UAF.

Sandra Jacobson (San Diego, California)
Sandie Jacobson
Dr. Jacobson is a genetic researcher at the University of California at San Diego, and is studying how cellular mutations can lead to cancer. In addition to her research, Dr. Jacobson mentors students training to become scientists, and teaches students of various ages how modern biology affects their daily lives. A native of Minnesota, long-term resident of Colorado, and avid traveler to Indian Country, Dr. Jacobson has a deep interest in Native American education and the training of future Native American leaders. "Harnessing the power of education to strengthen Native communities within the context of their culture is very important" says Dr. Jacobson.

Cheryl Luna, Navajo (Flagstaff, Arizona)
Cheryl Luna
Cheryl Luna, a Navajo from Kayenta, AZ has been a Scholarship recipient since the spring of 2002. In 2005 Cheryl achieved her goal of graduating from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Since graduating Cheryl has been working for the Flagstaff Medical Center as a mental health technician as well as at the DeMiguel Elementary School as an instructional aid in special education.

Eileen Peacock, Cheyenne River Sioux (Eagle Butte, South Dakota)
Eileen Peacock
Eileen Peacock is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. Married, with four grown children, Eileen works as a high school counselor at Cheyenne-Eagle Butte High School — where she has worked for the past 18 years. She says, “I absolutely love my job and look forward to coming to work each and every day. Working with young people is a verysatisfying experience for me. I hope that I can serve as a role model for Indian youth. I want them to be able to look at me and realize that they can also attend college and graduate with a degree.” Eileen earned her B.S. in Psychology from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD in 1980 and her M.S. degree in Guidance & Counseling from Northern State University in Aberdeen, SD in 1990. She is also a member of the South Dakota Counselors Association.

Charles Tafoya, Santa Clara Pueblo (Espanola, New Mexico)
Charles Tafoya
Mr. Tafoya holds degrees in both education and accounting. For many years, Mr. Tafoya served as Program Director and Financial Aid counselor for the All Indian Pueblo Council, Inc, a non-profit group dedicated to providing access to services that may not otherwise be available to pueblo people. Mr. Tafoya has been a member of the New Mexico State University American Indian Program staff where his duties included connecting Native American students to mentors, tutors and other resources for social, academic and financial support. He has also worked with the Baby FACE Program at the Santa Clara Day School and is currently is a Native American student advisor at Northern New Mexico Community College.

Patrick Weasel Head, Blackfeet, Gros Ventre, and Assinaboine (Missoula, Montana)
Patrick Weasel Head
Dr. Weasel Head is the past Director of the Office of American Indian Student Services with the goal of developing a comprehensive approach to supporting American Indian students as they enter the university system…and currently assisting the University of Montana School of Education and Graduate School to assist in recruiting and retaining indigenous students in the teaching profession as well as science fields. Patrick had experience in being a Tribal College Dean, a K-12 schoolteachers/counselor, a program evaluator, a proposal review member for NASA, NSF, NIH, DoE, and private foundations. He has extensive experience in public speaking, grant writing, program management, and promotion of mathematics, science and technology opportunities. He has worked on multi-state collaborations, multi-cultural programs, and community based efforts. Patrick was actively involved in the White House Conference on Indian Education (Report); the American Indians in Higher Education; and a manual for teachers called “Through Two Pairs of Eyes: A Manual for teachers of American Indian College Students.” He was also a reviewer for the Journal of American Indian Education, a delegate to the White House Conference on Indian Education; and Past Chair of the AAHE American Indian/Alaska Native Caucus.

AIEF Committee Group Photo
Our Scholarship Committee members volunteer their time to help Native American students attain the dream of higher education.