Apr 28, 2013 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff WriterThe guidance, knowledge and support of a valued former University of Wyoming staff member made the challenging process of attending college much easier for many students from the Wind River Indian Reservation. John Nutter, the former assistant to the vice president of student affairs at UW, was recognized Monday at Central Wyoming College.
Nutter also has served as the administrator of the Northern Arapaho Endowment Scholarship since 1992 and the Chief Washakie Scholarship Program since 2004.
"It was really a pleasure to be on the board with him," said Belle Ferris, member of Northern Arapaho Endowment Scholarship committee. "It's a really successful program."
June Shakespeare, also a member of that committee, told attendees at the ceremony that more than 90 students have been recipients of the scholarship since it was first offered in 1987, and it has since awarded financial assistance of more than $1.5 million. The Northern Arapaho Tribe contributed $500,000 to UW, and as the state matched that gift, a $1 million endowment was created. Now $2 million is available for students looking to obtain a degree.
"This is probably the biggest scholarship at the University of Wyoming," UW trustee James Trosper said.
The Chief Washakie Scholarship program began in 2003 and provides more than $500,000 for career-seeking individuals.
"If it wasn't for him we probably wouldn't have had this success," Shakespeare said. "He kept us all updated and informed."
She added that a big part of his work was to "alleviate all the pressure and stress."
Shakespeare said many students would choose not to attend college because of a financial hardship or a family back at home, but with the guidance of Nutter and the help of the scholarships, students were able to buy the necessary supplies, pay for a class and even take their families with them while they were enrolled at UW.
"Then they can come back to work for the tribe," she said.
Nutter thanked all those in attendance for the "trust and the respect" that they gave him while at UW since 1991.
"They've been wonderful years," he said.
Nutter said he was happy to be able to help so many students find the essential resources to secure a promising future.
"I really valued the opportunity to help them," Nutter said.
Nutter's replacement, Debra Littlesun said that she knew she had big shoes to fill but felt confident in what she could do for the students.
"Thank you for trusting me with your baby," she told Nutter, adding that she received exceptional training from him.
"He did an amazing job with both of the endowments," she said. "He didn't just administer the funds, he gave amazing leadership and guidance."
Littlesun, who was the director of scholarships at the American Indian College fund in Denver, said she felt positive and optimistic of her new journey.
"I hope I can still provide the highest level of service to the committee and the Chief Washakie foundation," Littlesun said. "I hope to bring a welcoming presence to Native American students."
Reservation resident and a recipient of both scholarships, Juanita Mount, said she didn't think she would get the financial help.
"I though it was out of reach," Mount said.
Still, she applied and found Nutter to be more than a guide to the much-needed funds.
"John was really helpful," she said, adding that he kept in touch with her often to make sure she was doing all right. "It was really beneficial."
Yufna Soldier Wolf from St. Stephen's is majoring in anthropology and archeology and working on a dual major in environmental and natural resources both at UW and CWC. For her, the positive reinforcement from Nutter helped her get to where she is now.
"It's not just about the financial support," she said. "It's having the support of the people who are there to believe in you."
She thanks the scholarships for cutting the amount of time that usually accompanies the completion of the degrees.
"If it wasn't there for me, I'd still be in school, but I probably wouldn't be as far as I am right now," Soldier Wolf said.
Nutter received two Pendelton quilts from the endowment committees and a star quilt from the Wind River Hotel and Casino. Nutter retired from UW in December 2012.
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