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Seven East Central University education majors received a grant from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The grant is awarded by the Office of Indian Education. The funding is considered a loan, repaid by service at a school with a high proportion of Native American Students.

ECU students Hali Bray, Bailey Giles, Mackenzie Hernandez, Lexus Morgan, Kristie Rodgers, Deyton Ashby, and Victoria Barbour received the grant which assists with a portion of education costs and a monthly stipend for eligible participants.

“This is exciting for our students,” said Dr. Jerry Mihelic, dean of the College of Education and Psychology. “It will help cover their cost of education, including tuition, books, testing fees, professional development and cultural experiences.”

For the first two years of teaching, the grant helps with job placement and mentor teacher support.

“This sets them up for a successful career in teaching,” Mihelic said.

“We anticipate these students will be an asset to the project and become amazing educators and leaders in their field,” said Stacy Hallmark, grant coordinator for the Teach to Reach program.  “We are excited and pleased to partner with ECU and value the assistance and recommendations received from the Department of Education.”

Hallmark explained the goal of the grant-based project is to develop high-quality Native American teachers, which will benefit the lives of students across Oklahoma.

Students applying for the grant must be a member of a federally recognized tribe, accepted to a teacher education program or within one year of acceptance, enrolled at a partner university, a GPA of at least 2.5, and willing to work at a public school with a higher proportion of Native American students.

The Department of Education at ECU has a long history of developing excellent teachers and administrators. ECU was founded in 1909 and provided preparatory education leading to teacher certification. In 1919, ECU became teachers' college and has since added many degrees and programs.

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