Nizhoni Hatch and Aidan Lyde were among the 55 students from across the country to be named Udall Scholars in 2022.
Two Colorado State University undergraduates were recently named Udall Scholars, a prestigious honor recognizing those committed to careers focusing on the environment, tribal public policy and Native American health care.
Nizhoni Hatch, a sophomore in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and Aidan Lyde, a junior in the College of Liberal Arts, were among the 55 students from across the country to be named Udall Scholars this year.
This marks the eighth consecutive year that a CSU student has been named a Udall Scholar. Since 2015, 11 students have received scholarships from the Udall Foundation. The students were nominated by a selection committee of CSU faculty through the Office for Scholarship and Fellowship Advising.
Each scholarship provides $7,000 for the scholar’s junior or senior year of academic study. A 20-member independent review committee selected this year’s group on the basis of commitment to careers in the environment, Native American public policy or Native health care.
College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
When Hatch applied for the Udall Scholarship, she said she took on the opportunity without any expectations. It wasn’t until she recently received a phone call from Interim Dean Colin Clay that it became real.
“At first, I thought I was in trouble,” said Hatch. “But then, he told me the good news. I couldn’t believe it was real and what it meant for my community.”
Hatch, an honors student majoring in biomedical sciences, plans to practice medicine in tribal communities and conduct research to find innovative solutions to the health care barriers Native American populations face while decolonizing the field of research.
“Growing up on the Navajo reservation, I recognized the critical lack of adequate health care access and a severe shortage of Native physicians,” Hatch said. “Within the limited medical staff on reservations, only a fraction are of Native heritage.”
According to Hatch, there were only 2,570 active Native physicians in 2018, comprising only 0.3% of the physician workforce.
At CSU, Hatch is working to become a change maker. She is an undergraduate lab manager in the Indigenous Land & Data Stewards Lab under the supervision and mentorship of Dominique David-Chavez, an assistant professor of indigenous natural resource stewardship. The interdisciplinary research lab analyzes Indigenous ethics frameworks and federally funded science research guidelines in principle and in practice.
“Growing up on the Navajo reservation, I recognized the critical lack of adequate health care access and a severe shortage of Native physicians. Within the limited medical staff on reservations, only a fraction are of Native heritage.”
Hatch also is a member of the CSU Native Women’s Circle, a group created to enhance social, group, individual and cultural support for the women of the Native American Cultural Center. She also is part of the CSU American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) chapter.
Since arriving at CSU, Hatch said she has faced some significant obstacles. However, she said her community back home and at CSU has played a key role in helping her persevere.
Hatch explained the scholarship will allow her to continue her education and nurture her consensus-building skills through her involvement with the Native and scientific community on campus, while embracing her intersectional identities as a Diné woman and scientist.
“As a Native woman in science,” Hatch said, “I hope to develop consensus among Indigenous and Western perspectives to achieve my career goals and make meaningful, significant changes in health care, research and education to centralize Indigenous equity.”
College of Liberal Arts
Lyde, an honors student majoring in political science and international studies, hopes to one day be involved in environmental and water policy in the Western U.S., and he notes that there are a multitude of environmental and human factors that will exacerbate water resource issues in the future.
Lyde, who also was a finalist for a Truman Scholarship, has gotten a jump-start through an internship with the U.S. Department of the Interior, where he conducted research on the Colorado River Basin.
“In many ways, this research experience clarified my passion for water and environmental policy and solidified my desire to enter public service,” he said. “I became deeply passionate and knowledgeable about water issues in the western U.S. because I spent countless hours researching and synthesizing information from hundreds of scientific, governmental and academic sources.”
Lyde’s first foray into climate activism was in 2019 as a student at the University of British Columbia when he marched for the Global Climate Strike in Vancouver. He walked out of class and joined tens of thousands of other students, activists and citizens to demand climate action.
At CSU, he is the chief financial officer of the University’s Zero Waste Team, a student-led organization dedicated to reducing waste on campus. Since 2021, he also has volunteered weekly at university sporting events and campus activities to divert hundreds of pounds of landfill-bound recycling and compost.
“In thinking about my passion for the environment today, such qualities will be critical for recommending far-reaching solutions and negotiating with Congress, special interest groups, and non-governmental stakeholders in order to implement policies and action plans for shared environmental challenges,” he said.
When thinking about the scholarship named in honor of Congressman Morris K. Udall and Secretary of Interior Stewart L. Udall, Lyde thinks about their commitment civility, integrity and consensus — something he follows on a regular basis. It also hits close to home in regards to Lyde’s research, as Morris Udall was concerned about future shortages of Colorado River water when he was in Congress.
“In thinking about my passion for the environment today, such qualities will be critical for recommending far-reaching solutions and negotiating with Congress, special interest groups, and non-governmental stakeholders in order to implement policies and action plans for shared environmental challenges.”
“I am incredibly honored to be named a Udall Scholar. Morris and Stewart Udall embodied a legacy of civility, integrity and consensus that offered a visionary path forward for future public service leaders in solving environmental challenges,” he said.
Udall Honorable Mentions
CSU also had three students receive Honorable Mentions from the Udall Foundation. The students were Helen Flynn in the Warner College of Natural Resources, Anna Parry in the College of Natural Sciences and Hyatt Vincent in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
About the Udall Scholarship program
Established by Congress in 1992 as an independent executive branch agency to honor U.S. Rep. Morris K. Udall, the Udall Foundation awards scholarships, fellowships and internships for study in fields related to the environment and to Native Americans and Alaska Natives in the fields of health care and tribal public policy.
Since the Udall Scholarships were established in 1996, the Udall Foundation has awarded more than 1,600 scholarships totaling more than $8.4 million.
Current CSU undergraduate students interested in applying for a Udall Scholarship can contact Mary Swanson, program director of the Office for Scholarship and Fellowship Advising, at firstname.lastname@example.org.