The National Center Announces 2018 American Indian Business Scholarship Award Winners

Ongweoweh Corporation President and CEO, Justin Bennet, Alisha Murphy with National Center President and CEO Chris James.

Published November 10, 2018

MESA, Ariz. — The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (the National Center) recently announced five winners of its 2018 American Indian Business Scholarships. The scholarships recipients were honored at the 10th Anniversary 40 under 40 Celebration, which took place in conjunction with the latest Native Edge Institute (NEI) at the River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa, Oklahoma last week.

Scholarship winners must be full-time collegiate juniors, seniors, or graduate students majoring in a business-related field. The applicants were evaluated based on grades, community involvement, personal challenges, business experience, and the quality of their personal essay. This year, awards totaled over $25,000. Scholarships are made possible through generous contributions from Lockheed Martin and the Ongweoweh Corporation.

“This year’s scholarship winners are an incredibly impressive and talented group of emerging Native American business leaders,” said Chris James, President and CEO of the National Center. “We are proud to be able to support these students as they strive to reach their educational goals and look forward to their contributions to advancing economic development within Indian Country. Congratulations to these very deserving scholarship winners, and we extend our gratitude to Lockheed Martin and Ongweoweh Corporation for their continued support of Native American scholars.”

The 2018 winners are:

Zachary Harris –  Lockheed Martin Scholarship. Harris is a member of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma and is currently majoring in Business Management and Tribal Governance at Northwest Indian College in Bellingham, Washington. After graduation, Zachary hopes to either start his own business or work for a company that provides services to Native communities.

Zachary Harris,  National Center President, Raven Smith, Small Business Liaison Officer at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics and  National Center President and CEO Chris James.

RaeLynn King – Lockheed Martin Scholarship. A member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, RaeLynn is currently attending Haskell Indian Nations University where she is pursuing a degree in Business Administration. RaeLynn most recently completed an internship with Travois and Tepa in Kansas City, Missouri, where she worked on low-income housing programs. After graduation, she hopes to work with her tribe and or within the native community in business management or marketing.

RaeLynn King, Raven Smith, Small Business Liaison Officer at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, and  National Center President and CEO Chris James.

Jessica Mehta – Ongweoweh Native American Scholarship. A PhD candidate studying business, persuasive, and creative writing, Jessica is a member of the Cherokee Nation and currently attending the University of Exeter in Exeter, England. Jessica owns MehtaFor, an award-winning writing services company which received two national bronze awards for Startup of the Year in 2015. Jessica hopes to use her degree to grow MehtaFor. This is the second business scholarship Jessica has earned; she was awarded a scholarship for her undergraduate education and she is a 2017 winner of the Native American 40 under 40 award.

Ongweoweh Corporation President and CEO, Justin Bennet, Jessica Mehta and National Center President and CEO Chris James.

Alisha Murphy – Ongweoweh Native American Scholarship. Alisha is a member of the Navajo Nation and is a first-year doctoral student at New Mexico State University, where she is focusing on Tribal Economic Development. Alisha is passionate about tribal economic development and hopes to use her educational and professional background to bring more economic development not only to the Navajo Tribe, but the overall Native community.

Clinton Purtell – Ongweoweh Native American Scholarship. A second year PhD student in Business and Entrepreneurship at Oklahoma State University, Clinton is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Clinton has held various professional positions throughout his career, and worked with major companies like Southwest Airlines, Dr. Pepper, American Airlines, and Cracker Barrel. Clinton plans to use his PhD to teach and or consult on topics related to entrepreneurship, negotiations, and growth strategy.

Ongweoweh Corporation President and CEO, Justin Bennet, Clinton Purtell and  National Center President and CEO Chris James.


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