2015 Scholarship Recipients

Johnny Buck, Quenton Chocktoot, Katie Harris

Announcing the 2015 recipients of the JoAnn Jeter Memorial Diversity Scholarship

In remembrance of JoAnn Jeter, Bonneville Power Administration’s dedicated Diversity Program Manager who died in 2012, the Jeter Family established this scholarship fund.  The  scholarship keeps alive the essence of Jo’s work – to support and encourage students who may face unique challenges to higher education.  Perhaps they are the first in their family to attend college, have limited family financial support and/or cultural/ethnic background.  The JoAnn Jeter Memorial Diversity Scholarship is administered by the Associates Foundation and as a 501(c)3 organization, the scholarship fund is an ongoing avenue for charitable donations.  Donations can be made directly at the Pacific Northwest Federal Credit Union, account #131978 and the Jeter Family matches private donations annually up to $500.  A point of contact for the scholarship is Karen Graves Pyrch (503-230-3194).

The independent panel of area educators evaluated 13 applications this year.  JoAnn Jeter’s scholarship calls for the minimum distribution of one $1,000 scholarship, or alternatively, two awards of $500 each.  However, for the second year in a row, the Jeter Family has extended its generosity to three students.  Below are the very deserving students receiving scholarship support for the 2015-2016 school year:

$500 JoAnn Jeter Memorial Diversity Scholarship – Johnny Buck

$500 JoAnn Jeter Memorial Diversity Scholarship – Quenton Chocktoot

$500 JoAnn Jeter Memorial Diversity Scholarship – Katie Harris

Johnny Buck


Thank you for believing in me and investing in my higher education goals.  I am proud to be a recipient of the JoAnn Jeter Memorial Diversity Scholarship and am grateful for all the donors and supporters to make this financial support possible.  I am committed to carry forward her values and vision for education, academic excellence and community leadership.  Kwthlanum (Thank you)

I am a proud father of a beautiful and intelligent daughter, Tatiwyat Buck.  I from the Wanapum (River People) Community, located next to Priest Rapids Dam on the mid-Columbia River and also an enrolled member of the Yakama Nation.  Archaeological evidence dates our history back 14,000+ years, or 700 generations.  We are deeply rooted in our homelands and our spiritual, emotional and physical lives are intimately intertwined with our environment.

The foundation of my life and leadership is with my Ichiskeen language.  Our way of life, culture and identity are encoded in our language - the way we communicate, relate to each other and our world.  When our language is lost, we are lost as a culture and a people.  I was raised with my indigenous language, and my community only has 5 elders left as fluent speakers.  I created our language program to connect elders to our youth to keep our endangered language alive and to ensure our way of life carries forward.  I am also trained as an archaeologist protecting and preserving our traditional cultural properties including our ancestral cemeteries, sacred sites and artifacts, the repatriation (return) of sacred remains and protecting our traditional food gathering areas.

For many years, I thought my academic goals were out of reach with my responsibilities to address my daughter’s health and wellness and the many day-to-day needs of my tight-knit community.  In order for me to beat the odds as a Native American man to achieve my academic goals, I knew I would need to make some bold moves that my family would not immediately understand or value the long-term benefits for our community.  My mentor, Patricia (Patsy) Whitefoot, is an amazing trailblazing leader who models the values of being deeply rooted in her culture and home community in the Yakama Nation.  In addition to her local leadership roles, she leads on regional and national levels for educational access and excellence for Native communities.  I turned to Patsy for guidance through the challenges of relocating and supporting the adjustment of my family across Washington State to be able to be on the main campus of Northwest Indian College.

As a first generation college student, I am passionate to lead and model to my community and Native communities across the country, that higher education is a powerful resource in the health and wellness for our communities.  I chose to complete my undergraduate degree at Northwest Indian College because I am able to blend the best of both worlds of my traditional ecological knowledge and the technical components and practical skills of modern science as the foundation for policies and practices that best support the protection of our environment and precious natural resources. 

In my community, we often have to defer to scientists or engineers for final decisions on environmental stewardship because they have technical expertise in these fields.  There is a severe lack of Native scientist, engineers and lawyers.  As a Native scientist, engineer and attorney, I will be well equipped to preserve and protect our Treaty Rights for our children and generations yet unborn.  I believe our indigenous traditional ecological knowledge holds the keys to addressing the impacts of climate change and restoring our environment.  As a Native leader, scientist, environmental engineer and attorney, I can connect my traditional ecological knowledge with the technical expertise as a scientist and engineer and support the restoration of our environment.

Over the past ten years, I have worked to support my family and my daughter and have not had the funding to uproot my family to be in a full-time supportive learning environment.  I have successfully relocated my family to the Lummi Nation, achieved a 4.0 my first quarter on the main Northwest Indian College campus, and mapped out all my coursework for my Bachelors of Science in Native Environmental Science with my Academic Advisor Dr. Brian Compton.  This will prepare me for my PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering and JD in Environmental Law.  I will ultimately return home to serve my people in my Wanapum community, and serve all of our Tribal Nations and interconnected, diverse communities in the US.

My community leadership grows from my passion to support our youth.  In 2012, I was asked by my mentor and President Elect of the National Indian Education Association, Patricia Whitefoot, to Chair the team of leaders of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) Youth Committee.  A main focus of the ATNI Youth Committee is to better connect youth focused programs and organizations throughout the Northwest and to build a youth leadership pipeline to increase youth engagement in policy making for community development.   We also provide mentorship and support for students’ higher education goals.  

Receiving the JoAnn Jeter Memorial Scholarship provides the support I need to continue my path towards academic excellence and grow my community leadership, while enhancing my capacity to take care of my family needs and raise our next generation of leaders.  I rely solely on scholarship resources and financial aid and part-time work to support my family.  I am confident that I will be able to invest resources wisely to achieve my goals for my education.

My mentors and my Native Youth Leadership Alliance community have been instrumental in teaching me how to map out and effectively apply for scholarships that will continue to allow me to focus my energy on my academic, family and community roles.  The availability of scholarship resources such as in the JoAnn Jeter Memorial Scholarship expand what is possible for me in my life and career, and I have my eyes set on my long-term goals as a Scientist, Environmental Engineer and Environmental Attorney so I can best address the needs of our communities for lasting, generational community development. 

Mark Chocktoot 

First off I would like to thank everyone that was involved in my selection as the JoAnn Jeter scholarship. It's my honor to take and utilize this money to finish my degree at Oregon State University and help my family, where I will be the first college graduate from my family to do so. 

A little about myself, I am from Klamath Falls originally but now live in Eugene with my wife and daughter. My daughter is 8 months old and is the cutest lil girl in the  State of Oregon! I am a veteran of the Iraq wars where I was a medical sergeant with the 41st brigade combat team, Charlie company of the 1-186 infantry battalion. I also am enrolled tribal member of the Klamath Tribes.

I am currently a Senior at Oregon State University and am in the last parts of my degree requirements, as well as being on track to graduate come Spring or possibly Winter terms.  I hold a 3.53 GPA and hope to finish strong and graduate with honors.

Post college for me is to get a job to utilize my Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resources in a career that hopefully is in an agency such as the BLM or Forest Service but not to rule out the Bonneville Power Administration (hint, hint!!) if there were positions available that my type of degree would satisfy. I bring to the table a lot of different skill sets with my military service and veteran status, so hopefully getting a job after I graduate shouldn't be too much of an issue. Frankly I just want to get back to work and start my career.

Again I just want to thank everyone for the time and consideration that was devoted to selecting all applicants for these scholarships. I greatly appreciate the help and will do everything that I can to make everyone proud and grateful that my selection was warranted and in good judgment.


Quenton Chocktoot

Katie Harris

My name is Katie Harris and my Indian name is Kaph Kaph Tsonmi.  I am from the Nez Perce, Cayuse, Umatilla and Karuk tribes.  I am the 24 year old daughter of Stuart and Deborah Harris from Pendleton Oregon.  I graduated from Pendleton High School with High honors and an Honors diploma.  I grew up riding and training our family horses, doing beadwork, fishing, training dogs, golfing, jingle/traditional dancing, gathering traditional foods, and always trying to learn new things. 

After high school I wanted to major in science and eventually found that Chemistry was my favorite of the sciences.  I graduated with an Associates of Science degree and an Oregon Transfer degree from Blue Mountain Community College.  I currently attend Eastern Oregon University where I am in my senior year majoring in Chemistry and taking classes in Business.  In school I have learned a lot about leadership by being involved in the Chemistry Club, participating on student panels, performing traditional Yupik Dance, helping at basketball games, and by being heavily involved in the Speel-Ya Native American club where I have been President, Vice president, and Secretary. 

While at EOU I have been lucky enough to do research with my professor PhD Anna Cavinato on making a biosensor for detrimental proteins in salmon.  In research, I have learned a great deal about good lab practices and learning techniques for analytical chemistry.  In the future I would want to get my PhD in Toxicology or Analytical Chemistry.  With that I have always been interested in environmental effects on Native people and traditional foods.  I hope this would lead me to environmental consulting and helping tribes around the country that have environmental concerns like water poisoning, uranium toxicity and air pollution.

My parents struggled through school and always told me stories of how they had at least 4 or 5 jobs while being full time students in college.  I would just like to thank you for helping me because it allows me to focus on my studies in school while being involved in extracurricular activities, clubs, and other organizations in and around campus.  Financial burdens can really change a persons experience in school.  That’s why I am so thankful to the scholarship committee and the Jeter family for allowing me to simply be a student furthering my education. 

With much gratitude,

Katie Harris