The Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company Foundation (SFNTC) has supported the American Indian College Fund for three decades through its Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company Foundation Tribal College Scholarship Program. The program provides scholarships to American Indian students enrolled full-time in an associate’s degree program at one of the following tribal colleges and universities: Diné College, Navajo Technical College, Oglala Lakota College, Sinte Gleska University, and Sisseton Wahpeton College. Scholarship applicants must also demonstrate financial need and be a single parent and/or in their first year of an associate’s degree program to be eligible.
Vaughn is a single father looking to better his life and that of his son. “I know obtaining a degree is the only real way I will have a chance at that,” he says.
When Vaughn’s first son was born, he suffered devastating depression after the infant died at 11 days old. “I fell into deep depression and not even the birth of my second son, Caleb, brought light back to life. I was trapped by the grasps of depression and alcoholism.” He says he found his way back through his faith, which led him to seek an education at Oglala Lakota College.
“I am where I belong. Learning is a passion for me. I hunger for it. It doesn’t matter what subject it is because I am always interested in it. My goal is to graduate with a 4.0 grade point average. I have no doubt in my mind that I can do it. At Oglala Lakota College. not only do we have encouraging professors and faculty, but they are also encouraging friends and mentors.”
“I desire to seek a degree in business administration and management. I think Native Americans should have more of a presence in the business world. I hope to be a presence in this world. I believe the Native American community is a sleeping giant, so to speak. I hope to make connections to shine light on the community and help it grow in a positive way,” Vaughn says.
“I have a very strong ambition to be a well-accomplished young man. I want to be very knowledgeable and very strong in my faith so I can teach my son everything I have learned. I also want to help people who only have a glimmer of faith to see that the glimmer of faith is more than enough. I want to be living proof of that. I desire to show the world that a person with no sign of hope can change the world as long as they have faith. I hope I even encouraged those who read my essay and I thank those who have taken the time to read it,” he continues.
“Without these programs, people like me wouldn’t have a fighting chance at obtaining a degree. College would remain a dream because there would be no way to pay for it completely. It just wouldn’t be possible. The contributors are not just helping the students financially, but they are giving the students a peace of mind. I have the upmost respect for those who have made and continue making contributions to make these programs possible. Thank you,” Vaughn says.