SDSU’s Begeman receives Udall Undergraduate Scholarship

South Dakota State University student Jessica Begeman has been selected one of the 55 Udall Undergraduate Scholarship recipients.

The Udall Foundation awards scholarships to college sophomores and juniors for leadership, public service and commitment to issues related to Native American nations or to the environment. Selected by a 20-member review committee, the recipients were chosen from 382 candidates nominated by 181 different colleges and universities.

Begeman, SDSU’s first Udall Scholar, just completed her first year in the professional Pharm.D. program in the College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions. An enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Begeman is from Martin and is also an Avera Wokini Scholar at SDSU.

A member of SDSU’s Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College, she is also pursuing minors in biology and American Indian and Indigenous studies. After graduating with her Pharm.D., Begeman would like to pursue a pharmacy residency with the Indian Health Service.

“Initially, I was actually hesitant to apply for the Udall scholarship. Dr. (Rebecca) Bott-Knutson (dean of the Fishback Honors College) and Dr. (Dan) Hansen (dean of the College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions) had both suggested I apply, but I knew it was very competitive,” Begeman said. “It ended up being a bit of a nerve-wracking experience for me. It was actually their support and the encouragement from Selena Olvera at the American Indian Student Center that convinced me to apply.

“I am very grateful that I did apply and am excited to go to the orientation conference in August. It will be a great opportunity to connect with other students and alumni whose goals and aspirations also focus on uplifting Indigenous nations,” she continued. “This network provides guidance and encouragement for students like myself in progressing toward our goals. I think it is also a chance for us to see how all of our individual aspirations, whether in health care, environment or tribal policy, are intertwined. I am excited to be a member of this network and hope to share the skills I learn at the orientation conference with others at SDSU.”

In addition to receiving a Udall Scholarship, she will attend a five-day orientation conference in Tucson, Arizona, in early August. This event allows Udall scholars to extend their professional network, meet other scholars and alumni, and learn new skills.

The Udall scholarship honors the legacies of Morris Udall and Stewart Udall, whose careers had a significant impact on Native American self-governance, health care and the stewardship of public lands and natural resources.

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