Competing against nearly 500 other students across the United States, the University of Arizona's Leah Edwards and Carol Seanez were named members of the 2013 Udall Scholars cohort.
Seanez (Diné), who is studying physiology and public health and also was a 2012 Udall Scholar, was selected as the first Central Arizona Project Udall Scholar, an honor that was given only to one scholar this year.
"This willingness to give back to the next generation of leaders, as Ms. Seanez is doing, is precisely the rationale behind CAP's support for this important scholarship initiative," David Modeer, general manager for the Central Arizona Project (CAP), said in a statement. "I am pleased that our first recipient is so actively engaged in education and outreach efforts."
CAP, in partnership with the Udall Foundation, provides $5,000 in funding each year a student is named a Udall Scholar.
"It means so much to me to have received this scholarship for the second time," Seanez said. "I am very happy to have been selected as the first honoree of this new scholarship."
Also, the Udall Foundation just announced the new cohort of one dozen 2013 Native American Congressional Interns, students who show a demonstrated commitment to careers in tribal public policy.
As interns, students will spend 10 weeks Washington, D.C. during the summer learning about federal policies that impact tribal nations across the U.S.
The UA is the only institution in the nation to have two interns named this year: Cara V. Wallace (Navajo/Haida/Tlingit/Tsimshian), a student in the James E. Rogers College of Law, and Thomas E. Jones (Aleut/Cherokee), a doctoral student in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment.
"We are thrilled to have two Udall Scholars this year, especially in light of the fact that only 50 scholars were selected," said Karna Walter, assistant dean for student engagement at the UA's Honors College. "Having two UA graduate students selected as Udall Congressional Interns is also remarkable, and the UA is the only university with more than one."
Wallace, who is committed to revitalizing the Haida language, is intent to help tribal communities solve complex social, economic, legal and political problems. In particular, she intends to focus on natural resources management, economic development and self-governance. Jones intends to become a congressman and champion for American Indian equality and prosperity.
During the summer, Seanez will work in the laboratory of Georg Wondrak, a UA associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology. There, she will investigate skin cancer as part of her involvement in the Native American Cancer Prevention Program and Undergraduate Biology Research Program.
After graduating, Seanez intends to join the Peace Corps or Teach for America and, long-term, would like to pursue a MPH/MD degree with plans to work in the rural areas of the Navajo Nation.
"This is where the most care is required," she said, adding that she intends to focus on preventative health.
Like Seanez, all Udall Scholars are commitment to serving in careers centered on the environment, Native American health-care or tribal public policy. They were chosen for maintaining sustained leadership and academic achievement along with a marked passion for public service.
"I am honored to have been selected for this award. I am really passionate about environmental policy, and it is wonderful to receive this recognition for my work in the environmental field," Edwards said.
Edwards, who has known numerous other Udall Scholars, said she has been inspired by the program and the work of her peers.
"I am really excited to have the opportunity to meet other Udall Scholars and learn about the incredible work that they are doing," said Edwards, who intends to pursue a master's degree in urban policy and a Juris Doctorate toward work in the federal government on environmental policy.
"I believe collaboration is one of the most important parts of policy decisions and implementation, and I am excited to have the chance to meet other individuals with similar goals and learn more about their work," she said. "I would be really interested in collaborating with other scholars on future projects."