An endowment from the Public Service Company of New Mexico will bring scholarships to college students from New Mexico’s 19 Pueblos this fall, the utility company announced Thursday.
PNM officials and Pueblo leaders hope the PNM Pueblo Scholarship Endowment Fund, which will disseminate 15 scholarships a year, will help keep Indigenous college students connected to New Mexico and draw some students to the energy industry.
All Pueblo Council of the Governors Chairman Mark Mitchell called the investment a “legacy-level” commitment from PNM in a news release about the new fund.
The scholarships will range from $2,000 to $7,000 per person, and are made possible with $1 million from PNM, plus an annual $50,000 investment for the next four years.
The endowment seed, PNM officials said, will allow the Albuquerque-based American Indian Graduate Center charged with distributing the scholarships to do so for years.
Applications are open to full- and part-time undergraduate, graduate and other students seeking certifications particularly in math- and science-related fields, public policy, business administration, communications, education and vocational trades.
“Part of this was certainly wanting to lift up the interest in the energy field on behalf of PNM,” said PNM tribal government and community engagement director Cathy Newby.
The other idea, Newby said, is to focus on fields with in-demand skills that graduates could bring home.
“The idea is to support capacity development in their communities,” Newby said.
Among the scholarships is a needs-based one students could use to cover emergency costs, food, child care or other expenses, Newby said.
Two others, one for graduate and one for undergraduate engineering students, are named in honor of the late three-time Pueblo of Santo Domingo Gov. Everett F. Chavez, who was also an electrical engineer and served as superintendent at Santa Fe Indian School from 2008-13.
Chavez died in 2018.
“He was truly just a transformational leader, and dedicated to the educational interests of students in our Pueblo communities,” Newby said. “He had a long working relationship with our CEO.”
Newby, who is Navajo, said students at New Mexico colleges and universities will be prioritized, but the scholarship is also open to Pueblo students studying elsewhere.
“Really, from time immemorial, New Mexico tribes and Pueblo nations have lived in the Southwest,” she said. “The commitment of teaching future generations while working to really stay connected with their communities, this is out of that respect and understanding for their culture, and their beliefs.”
The first deadline for applications is June 1.