DENVER — The American Indian College Fund announced its selection of 12 new student ambassadors for its 2020 cohort. 

In its sixth year, the College Fund Student Ambassador Program trains American Indian and Alaska Native students to serve as leaders in their communities, work to combat stereotypes, and create greater visibility of Native Americans and an understanding of the importance of their diverse cultures.

College Fund student ambassadors promote higher education and visibility of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIAN), inspiring the next generation of Native students in media interviews, at cultural events, in their communities, and on their campuses.

The 2020 cohort also received advocacy training to help them spearhead engagement and action for issues impacting Native communities. This year the multi-day training, which was moved online, provided student ambassadors with leadership development, public speaking, interviewing, writing, and social media training in an interactive modular format. The virtual format allowed attendees the additional opportunity to participate in conversations about career planning and persistence with professionals in their fields. 

Special guests included veteran Native American actor Zahn McClarnon (recent credits include television shows Barkskins, Longmire, Fargo, and Westworld) who was joined by his mother, a longtime professional educator; and Kevin McDermott, a retired NFL player for the San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens, and Minnesota Vikings before leaving the NFL to launch his dream career in finance.

The 2020-21 American Indian College Fund Student Ambassadors are:

  • Lyndsey Blanco (Tlingit and Haida Central Council), a business administration major at Ilisagvik College in Alaska;
  • Kimberly Blevins (Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation), an environmental science master’s program student at Sitting Bull College in North Dakota;
  • Natasha Goldtooth (Diné), an agroecology/environmental science major at Diné College in Arizona;
  • Spring Grey Bear (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe), a business administration major at United Tribes Technical College in North Dakota;
  • Kenwa Kravitz (Pit River/Wintu), a native studies leadership major at Northwest Indian College in Washington;
  • Emily Lockling (Fond du Lac Band of Superior Chippewa), an environmental science major at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in Minnesota;
  • Jacob McArthur (White Earth Ojibwe Nation), a business administration major at Bemidji State University in Minnesota;
  • Tori McConnell (Yurok Tribe), a neurology, physiology, and behavior major at the University of California Davis in California;
  • Jamison Nessman (White Earth Nation), a pre-medicine student at Bemidji State University in Minnesota;
  • Chandra Norton (Hoopa Vakkey Tribe), a community advocate and responsive education in human services major at Northwest Indian College in Washington;
  • David Plant (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes), a business management major at Salish Kootenai College in Montana.
  • Amanda Ruiz (Sicangu Lakota), a natural science degree and pre-engineering major at Oglala Lakota College in South Dakota;
  • Christopher Villaruel (Ajumawi/Pit River), a Forestry Hydrology Major at Humboldt State University in California;
  • Lester Wells (Crow Creek Sioux Tribe), a Lakota leadership and management master’s program major with an education administration emphasis at Oglala Lakota College in South Dakota; and

· Jade Yazzie (Diné), a food and nutrition in dietetics major at Montana State University in Montana.

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