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Graduating Senior and McNair Scholar
Receives Prestigious Ford Foundation Fellowship

RELEASED: May 15, 2008

Michael Ojibway
Michael Ojibway

EAU CLAIRE — A graduating senior and Ronald E. McNair Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has been awarded a prestigious Ford Foundation Predoctoral Diversity Fellowship from the National Academies.

Michael Ojibway, Chippewa Falls, who will graduate magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in psychology this Saturday, will enter a doctoral program in either social psychology or sociology and is currently negotiating offers from several universities. Until he was notified of the Ford Foundation award, he wasn't sure exactly when he would be able to enter graduate school, but he knew he was going.

Dr. Patricia Quinn, director of the McNair program at UW-Eau Claire, describes Ojibway as "a real dynamo."

"He combines high-powered intelligence, energetic commitment to research, unstinting dedication to service, and real passion for his family and the Native American community," Quinn said. "The McNair staff and his fellow McNair scholars are intensely proud of him."

The annual national competition for approximately 60 three-year, predoctoral fellowships is administered by the National Research Council on behalf of the Ford Foundation. The fellowship includes a $20,000 annual stipend, an award to the attending graduate institution in lieu of tuition and fees, and the opportunity to participate in three prestigious conferences of Ford Fellows.

The selection criteria includes evidence of superior academic achievement and promise as a scholar and teacher, capacity to teach and respond to students of diverse backgrounds, and membership in an ethnic group traditionally underrepresented in the American professoriate.

Ojibway is a member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe and minored in American Indian studies, taking courses in the Ojibwe language and American Indian culture. He is a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society and the Gold Caps Chapter of Mortar Board Honor Society, and he has been president of UW-Eau Claire's Native American Student Association since spring 2004.

As a McNair scholar, Ojibway engaged in several faculty/student collaborative research projects, ranging from a documentary film with English professor Dr. Debra Barker — "Denver March: The Contemporary Pow Wow Explained" — to research for psychology professor Dr. Blaine Peden examining the socio-psychological and ethical implications of Indian mascots and logos in American mass media. Most recently, he conducted a collaborative research project with psychology professor Dr. April Bleske-Rechek that involved examining both majority and minority students' perceptions of educational mentoring with regard to racial and ethnic preferences, ideal mentoring characteristics and past mentoring experiences.

He was awarded a travel grant from UW-Eau Claire's Office of Research and Sponsored Programs to attend a 2006 National Indian Education Association conference in Anchorage, Alaska, and in 2007, Ojibway was awarded a scholarship to attend the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in San Francisco as a student scholar and representative of UW-Eau Claire. Most recently, he was awarded the UW-Eau Claire Office of Multicultural Affairs 2008 Outstanding Student Award. In addition, Ojibway earned the Multicultural Student Leadership Conference Change-maker Award for his tribal youth outreach and tutoring, as well as for his continued participation in the UW-Eau Claire's minority summer pre-college programs.

"Michael deserves the Ford Fellowship," said Bleske-Rechek. "He is one of the most resourceful, motivated, and disciplined students I have ever known. He has tremendous potential and he is going to continue to make UW-Eau Claire very proud," she said.

Ojibway said he's grateful for the Ford Fellowship and attributes much of his success as a student and scholar to his relationships with students, staff and faculty at UW-Eau Claire.

"If it weren't for the caring support of the Multicultural Affairs staff, I probably would have dropped out after my first year," Ojibway said. "I'm excited to continue my education and look forward to developing intellectually as both a scholar and social rights advocate."

In a society driven by statistical data and evidence, Ojibway said he hopes to develop socially relevant and persuasive theory investigating the systemic remnants of oppression and racial/ethnic inequality still present years after the conclusion of the early civil rights era.

-30-

NW

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