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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

SU Native American student named Udall Scholar

Brianna Carrier is one of 10 Native American/Alaska Native scholars in Udall class

June 16, 2011, by Rob Enslin

Brianna Carrier ’12, a dual major in geography and policy studies in Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences, has been selected as a 2011 Udall Scholar. A member of the Turtle Clan of the Mohawk Nation, she is one of only 10 Native American and Alaska Native scholars in this year’s Udall class, comprising more than 80 students from 61 institutions nationwide. Carrier will receive a $5,000 scholarship to use for housing and tuition.

“This year’s group of scholars is one of our strongest classes ever, with an impressive showing of native students pursuing careers related to tribal public policy or Native American health care,” says Terrence L. Bracy, chair of the board of trustees for the Udall Foundation.

A native of Niagara Falls, Carrier is one of three Udall Scholars pursuing a career in tribal public policy.

“After college, I want to go into public service for the betterment of the Native American people,” says Carrier, whose interests range from environmental and natural resource protection to sovereignty and self-determination issues. Her ultimate goal is to obtain “ground experience” with a prestigious nonprofit, such as Teach For America or the National Congress of American Indians, before pursuing a professional graduate degree in public policy, public administration or law.

“I’m a very lucky person to have had many opportunities, so I want to try to make the most of them,” she adds.

Carrier was selected by an independent review committee from among 510 candidates at 231 colleges and universities. Working in her favor was an internship last summer at the National Science Foundation, where she served in the Office of Polar Programs. In this capacity, Carrier presented a white paper on the emerging field of sustainability science and its impact on indigenous communities, and then spent a week at the Arctic hamlet of Clyde River, studying support systems among Inuit women.

“Last summer provided many eye-opening experiences that built me up as a student and person,” recalls Carrier, whose interest in storytelling, game playing, berry picking and cooking endeared her to the Inuit community. “Meeting people who were affected by climate change made my studies more relevant and more important to me.”

This summer, Carrier returns to the nation’s capital to intern for Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico. She is confident that the experience will boost her understanding of and appreciation for the policy making process.

“In a short amount of time, I’ve met many intelligent and influential people, and have learned a lot about how ‘the Hill’ works,” she says. “It’s rewarding to have an insider view of the U.S. government.”

Sociology professor Richard Loder ’67, G’78 is not surprised by Carrier’s success. He believes her coursework in geography and policy studies, coupled with internships and community service, has groomed her for an array of opportunities during and after college.

“Brianna is a bright, articulate and energetic emerging scholar who is concerned about environmental issues in this fragile world. Her experience is indicative of her commitment to sustainability and the environment and to future generations yet unborn,” writes Loder, who doubles as a faculty representative to the Udall Foundation.
Carrier is committed to making the most of her senior year at SU. When not cracking the books, she will likely be found volunteering for Alpha Phi Omega, a co-educational national service fraternity, or serving as captain of the women’s club hockey team.

Although Carrier does not reside on a reservation and, thus, is unable to take advantage of SU’s Haudenosaunee Promise Scholarship Program, she applauds the University’s commitment to the historic nations (e.g., Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora). It is this relationship, she admits, that initially drew her to campus.

“We, as students, don’t always realize how fortunate we are to attend a university and to have the freedom and luxury to study what interests us,” she summarizes. “It’s important to bring that knowledge back to our community for their own betterment and to give back to those people who have not had the opportunities we have had.”

The Udall Foundation is an independent federal agency that was established by Congress in 1992 to provide federally funded scholarships for college students intending to pursue careers related to the environment, as well as to Native American students pursuing tribal policy or health care careers. In 1998, the foundation grew to include the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution, created by Congress as the federal government’s only program focused entirely on resolving federal environmental disputes.