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CLA Undergrads Selected as 2015 Udall Scholars

Alexandra Johnson & Maria Lee honored as exceptional students, committed to careers related to the environment, tribal public policy, and Native American health care.
April 9, 2015

Portraits of Alexandra Johnson and Maria Lee

Portraits of Alexandra Johnson and Maria Lee
Alexandra Johnson (left) is an American Indian studies major. Maria Lee (right) is a geography major. Both have been named Udall Scholars for 2015.

Udall Scholarships, funded by Congress and administered by the Morris K. and Stewart L. Udall Foundation, honor exceptional students who are committed to careers related to the environment, tribal public policy or Native American health care. 

Alexandra Johnson

Alexandra Johnson, who is majoring in American Indian studies with an emphasis on Ojibwe languge, has been awarded a Udall Scholarship for Tribal Public Policy. A descendent of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe, Alexandra plans to complete a graduate degree in education and to work to develop educational programs that will revitalize Native American languages and close the achievement gap between Native and non-Native students.

Alexandra is working to transcribe, translate, and edit a collection of recordings made by native Ojibwe speakers on a project with retired University of Minnesota instructor Dennis Jones. On campus she is an Ojibwe language tutor, an access assistant in Ojibwe language classes, and treasurer of the American Indian Student Cultural Center.

Alexandra also volunteers at the Bdote Learning Center in Minneapolis and with the language immersion camp run by the Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation in northwestern Ontario. Alexandra, a graduate of Hopkins High School, will also spend this summer in Washington, DC with the Udall Native American Congressional Internship Program.

Maria Lee

Maria Lee, a geography major from Madison, Wisconsin with minors in outdoor recreation and education and park and protected area management, has been selected in the environment category. After graduation Maria plans to complete a graduate degree in public policy and resource management, and she hopes to work in education and interpretive programming in state or national parks or protected areas.

Maria is especially committed to increasing the engagement of minority populations in environmental policy and public land management. At the University of Minnesota she has served as ambassador for the Office of Equity and Diversity, event coordinator for the River Rangers, and a founding member of the Roosevelt Institute, a student organization which engages young people in the process of shaping public policy.

In the Twin Cities she has worked as an environmental education intern with the US Forest Service’s Urban Connections program and as a development intern, curriculum designer, and trip planner for Wilderness Inquiry. Maria conducted a summer undergraduate research project on accessibility to outdoor recreation in Hennepin and Ramsey counties in 2014, with Professor Ingrid Schneider of the Department of Forest Resources. She is currently studying public land policy at the School for Field Studies in Tanzania.