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White House appointee to speak at Fort Lewis College

In December, President Obama signed an executive order creating the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education. Dr. William Mendoza, a member of the Oglala Sioux and a graduate of Fort Lewis College, was chosen as the director of this new initiative.

On Thursday, March 22, Dr. Mendoza will return to Fort Lewis College for a public presentation entitled “Educational Opportunities for all American Indian and Alaska Native Students.” The presentation, which starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Center of Southwest Studies Lyceum, is free and open to the public. A reception in the Center with Dr. Mendoza will precede the presentation at 4:45 p.m.

Dr. Mendoza grew up on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations in South Dakota. He would go on to attend Haskell Indian National University, earn a bachelor’s degree from Fort Lewis College and then a master’s and doctoral degree from Montana State University.

He returned to Pine Ridge, SD, to start his professional career as a high school teacher, but his desire to do more drove him to higher and higher levels of educational leadership. Before being named as director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education, he served as acting director of the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities.

Part of what Dr. Mendoza will be working on in his new position is improving access to high-quality education programs, especially in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. This idea is something that Fort Lewis College is focused on as well. FLC is among the top 50 colleges and universities in the country in terms of STEM degrees awarded to Native Americans. Fort Lewis also awards more bachelor’s degrees to Native American students than any other four-year school in the nation.

For more information on Dr. Mendoza’s visit, call (970) 247-7222.

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