Arizona Public Service (APS) has partnered with the American Indian College Fund since 2010 to offer the Navajo Scholars Program. To date the program has provided 15 academic scholarships and leadership programs to Navajo students attending Dine College, Navajo Technical College, and colleges within the New Mexico and Arizona state university systems.
APS is working to create a pipeline of talented Navajo college graduates as potential future employees, assist Navajos in their professional and leadership development by connecting them to professional associations and leadership training, provide financial access to a higher education, and prepare the next generation STEM professionals. Scholarships are awarded to students studying science, technology, engineering, or mathematics on a full-time basis who are enrolled members of the Navajo Nation.
APS serves more than 1.1 million customers in 11 of the state’s 15 counties. With headquarters in Phoenix, APS is the principal subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital Corp. (NYSE: PNW). The APS Foundation, Inc. is an Arizona nonprofit corporation that was incorporated in December of 1981 as a charitable foundation recognized by the Internal Revenue Service. The APS Foundation is a separate entity from Pinnacle West and APS. The Foundation receives annual gifts (funding) from APS; is governed by a board of directors; and makes distributions for charitable donations, pursuant to its bylaws, with a focus on education.
Joanne is proof that when given a second chance in life, people can succeed. When she decided to return back to school in the fall 2010 lshe was recovering from the death of her mother, for whom she had been the primary caregiver for eight years.
While caring for her mother Joanne had to work two jobs to keep from losing everything. After her mother died, she moved into a homeless shelter. Her children moved in with their father. Sad and alone, she turned to alcohol. She began to think of her mother and how disappointed she would be and decided to make a change. She checked into a rehabilitation center, where she got to thinking about her mother’s words of encouragement for her to get an education, and it was there that Joanne decided to go back to school.
Now a full-time student in her third year of college working towards a bachelor’s degree, Joanne says school has given her a second chance at life. Reunited at Navajo Technical College with her daughter, who finished her GED, and her son, who is working on his certificate program, the whole family is engaged in education.
Joanne says she never wants to work just to survive again. “I have seen many successful people who have gained degrees in technology. My career goal is to find employment within the Navajo reservation and teach the younger generation. I want to be a programmer to design, update, repair, and modify programs. Life is about learning new things every day and having fun in a productive lifestyle. Being in the technology field there is something new developing every day.”
Joanne was selected twice for a NASA summer internship, first with Marshall Space Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and for a second year at the AMES Research Center in Mountain View, California. She was also a National Science Foundation STEM intern, and was inducted to the National Technical Honor Society. In 2011-12 she placed first with SkillsUSA in a computer applications competition and last year she placed second. She also participated on her school teams that placed second in the American Indians in Science and Engineering’s rocket launch competition and second in web page competition at the American Indians in Higher Education Consortium.
Joanne says, “I appreciate your generosity in supporting me to continue with my education. You have made my future brighter with the help of your support and faith to move forward.”