San Carlos Apache
Insects are not high on many people's list of loves, but Melinda happens to love them. A member of the San Carlos Apache tribe from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Melinda says what really “bugs” her is that if it was not for the American Indian College Fund, she would have been unable to complete her education studying the creatures that give most of us the shivers.
After completing her studies at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas, Melinda earned a master's degree from Purdue University, where she studied genetics in orthoptra (winged insects). She became interested in Notre Dame after she completed a two-year internship in environmental sciences, in which she spent a year at a research center in Wisconsin researching and studying aquatic insects and a year at the national bison range in Montana studying terrestrial insects. “I attended a total of 10 modules [through my internships],” she says, which included subjects such as entomology, grassland ecology, Native American archeology, and mammalogy.
While a graduate student at Purdue Melinda received many honors. She received the American Indian College Fund Anthony Welmas Graduate Scholarship, was chosen as an American Indian Graduate Center Fellow, published a paper in the Journal of North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (her second as a research scientist), and was selected to be a part of Purdue's street banner campaign as a "Difference Maker." An image of Melinda conducting research hung on a series of street banners across the Purdue campus as part of the campaign.
Melinda has traveled full-circle and is now working as a faculty member at her alma mater, Haskell Indian Nations University. She teaches an advanced biology lecture and lab course for environmental science majors. She is also an academic adviser for students in the environmental science degree program and assists in teaching a joint Purdue University/Haskell Indian Nations University study abroad course about multicultural perspectives on sustainable agriculture. As if her schedule isn't full enough, Melinda is applying for a part-time job teaching and developing new curriculum that will be offered in a new baccalaureate degree program at Haskell.
"It certainly is important to be an American Indian College Fund scholarship recipient," Melinda says. "I am proud to say I was a Fund scholar as an undergraduate and as a graduate student."
Today Melinda is also engaged to be married. "This is certainly an exciting time in my life and I am filled with so much happiness in my professional life as well as my personal life," she says.