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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


October 4, 2003 - Issue 97


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Diné Man Chosen for Harvard Program


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A staff assistant and press officer to former Navajo Nation President Kelsey Begaye joined Harvard's Administrative Fellowship program this fall, the only Native American fellow among a class of 12.

Mellor C. WillieMellor C. Willie, 26, began a 10-month fellowship on September 2 with the program detailed to work in the Harvard University Native American Program (HUNAP) at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. Harvard offers only 12 such openings each year to outstanding professionals from across the country.

"We are delighted and honored to have Mellor join the HUNAP staff as the Visiting Administrative Fellow," said Carmen Lopez, Interim Director of the HUNAP.

Founded in 1989 by the Office of the Assistant to the President, the fellowship program has helped recruit some 100 minorities to work at Harvard and other universities or continue their education, said Harvard University Associate vice-president James Hoyte.

Willie, a member of the Navajo Nation, served as Begaye's press officer and executive staff assistant for state affairs and worked as Chief Development Officer for the Western Health Foundation of Gallup, New Mexico before starting his fellowship.

"Through this fellowship program, I will attain hands-on experience from the best school in the world," he said. "It's a great opportunity and I plan to gain everything I can from this experience."

The Administrative Fellowship Program is a 12-month management experience complemented by a professional development program. The program, now in year 13 of operation, draws fellows from business, government, education, and the professions. Each participant receives a salary from Harvard University and all costs for the required educational seminar are covered by Harvard University.

"Mellor's student leadership, educational experiences, and professional work have all focused on advocacy and strengthening programs and opportunities for Native peoples and communities," Lopez said. "We look forward to the contributions Mellor will make to HUNAP and we hope to provide him with a stimulating and unique administrative experience that will broaden and enrich his professional development."

In addition to the honor, Willie was also selected by Professor Joe Kalt, Ford Foundation Professor of International Economics to serve as a teaching assistant for his "Native Americans in the 21st Century: Nation Building I" course offered at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

"This is actually an avant-garde kind of government class about American Indians," Willie said. "It takes it from the perspective of building Indian tribes from a holistic (point of view) based upon the whole logic behind the Harvard Project on American Indian Development."

Born and raised in Window Rock, Ariz., and Blanding, Utah, Willie holds a Bachelor's of Science degree in Political Science with honors from Southern Utah University and is the recipient of a congressional scholarship from the Morris K. Udall Foundation. He was born into the Yei Diné Tachii'nii clan and born for the Tsenahabilnii clan. Willie continues to serve his alma mater as an SUU Admissions Advisor.

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