Winners were honored during the 40 under 40 10th Anniversary Celebration in Tulsa, OK

MESA, AZ – The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (the National Center) recently announced five winners of its 2018 American Indian Business Scholarships. The scholarship 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 gradute students majoring in a business-related field. The applicants were evaluted based on grades, community involvement, personal challenges, business experience, and the quality of their personal essay. This year, awards totaled over $25,000. Scholarships were 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 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.

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.

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 recieved 2 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.

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 trive, but to 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.

Chris James is pictured with all winners. Raven Smith, Small Business Liaison Officer at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, is pictured with Zachary and RaeLynn. Ms. Smith said, “Supplier diversity is not a goal, it’s a necessity. When facing down the most important projects in the world, you need fresh ideas and unique perspectives. Working together, we’re developing and providing new opportunities for small diverse businesses.”

Pictured with Jessica, Alisha, and Clinton is Ongweoweh Corporation President and CEO, Justin Bennett, who is both a past scholarship recipient and Native American 40 under 40 winner. Mr. Bennett said, “I never anticipated multiple life intersections wtih the National Center. While preparing for Graduate School at Canisius, I applied for the business scholarship adn became the Lockheed Martin recipient. The scholarship was incredibly helpful and the presentation was impactful to me. At Ongweoweh Corp, we value higher education and believe in supporting American Indian students and businesses. The business scholarships are a way to both personally and professionally express gratitude and give back appreciation for what the National Center has done for me.” 

About the National Center: The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. With over 40 years of assisting American Indian Tribes and their enterprises with business and economic development – we have evolved into the largest national Indian specific business organization in the nation. Our motto is: “We Mean Business For Indian Country” as we are actively engaged in helping Tribal Nations and Native business people realize their business goals and are dedicated to putting the whole of Indian Country to work to better the lives of American Indian people- both now… and for generations to come.