Honored Student Wins Cobell Scholarship – The NAU Review
Northern Arizona University Junior Olivia Konig is one of the recipients of the Cobell Scholarship, a national merit-based scholarship for registered students who are members of a federally recognized tribe.
It’s a prestigious achievement for Konig, a member of the San Carlos Apache tribe who is no stranger to taking on tough challenges. She is in Honors College and has two majors – International Affairs and Japanese – and leaves in September for a full academic year to study and work in Japan. She is an Indigenous peer mentor and is preparing for law school upon graduation.
Oh, and after returning from Japan, she will take another trip to perform as a pianist at Carnegie Hall. Throughout her college career, Konig develops into the role model she wishes those who come after her to have.
“Indigenous excellence is extremely important to me,” Konig said. “We are so underrepresented and many of us are still struggling with the aftermath of generational trauma. Scholarships like the Cobell bring recognition to powerful Indigenous peoples while helping Indigenous students financially.
Win the Cobell Scholarship
The Cobell Fellowship honors Elouise Cobell, who was born and raised as part of the Blackfeet Nation and has dedicated her life to settling trust account management with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). She called the US government to account for the misuse of Indian property. In 1996, she became the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit, which became the largest settlement in US history. Thirteen years later, the US government agreed to pay $3.4 billion for the mismanagement of individual bank accounts.
Prior to the settlement, she worked as a treasurer for the Blackfeet Tribe, founded the first Native American bank, won a MacArthur Engineering Fellowship, was honored as a warrior by her tribe, and left a legacy for the next generation to carry on. his work and question “the way the world works.”
This scholarship is competitive and the application process was almost overwhelming amid Konig’s other responsibilities. In March, she met Andrea Graves, the coordinator of NAU’s Office of National and International Scholarships and Scholarships, to talk about potential scholarships in the coming years. The Cobell was on her radar, but not until 2023 – until she saw that the 2022 deadline hadn’t passed. That was the good news. The bad news: The deadline was a few weeks away, and the application included 17 essay prompts. Konig’s immediate response was close to panic; she just had too many things to do at once to be able to do that well. She reached out to Graves, explaining that she would wait until next year. Graves invited her to a meeting.
“We met the next day and went through each prompt, and somehow Andrea pulled answers and stories from me that I didn’t know I had,” he said. she declared. “I completed all of my essays last weekend before the deadline, and Andrea and my Academic Success Coordinator read through and helped me refine my application. Andrea’s enthusiasm and tremendous help pushed me to apply and become a recipient of the Cobell scholarship.
Learn more about NAU’s 2021 Cobell Scholarship Winners.
From Graves’ account, Konig’s enthusiasm made all the difference.
“I’m impressed with Olivia’s fearless attitude,” she said. “When we began working on her Cobell application in the spring of 2022, she was particularly busy with her studies and her role as an Honors College Indigenous Mentor. She was hesitant about her commitment to the Cobell app during one of our first counseling sessions, but she reminded me of her awareness of the tedious writing process and decided to go ahead with her next disorganized. It’s this kind of perseverance that creates winning national essays! »
In and out of class
Konig, who is from Phoenix, chose NAU after Honors College recruited her. She looked at the various opportunities available here, including the global interdisciplinary program, and decided this was the right fit.
As a freshman, she was assigned a mentor by her native peers through Honors College. When her mentor graduated, Konig became an Indigenous peer mentor to another honors student. These connections are an important part of the college experience for Aboriginal students, both socially and academically.
“Having peer mentors for Indigenous students is extremely important,” she said. “University, especially predominantly white institutions, may be the first time that Indigenous students have lived away from their homes and communities. The Honors Indigenous Peer Mentoring program creates a community for these students within the Honors College.
She, too, of course, had required courses for two majors. She particularly enjoyed her Japanese lessons; often the same students were in class each semester, which she says creates a sense of community and familiarity in the classroom. And it all works toward his post-graduate goal of law school; Konig is thinking about international law or Indian law, which would allow him to represent the San Carlos Apache tribe. His mother, Justine Jimmie, is the Deputy Attorney General for their tribe as well as a member of the NAU Honors Steering Committee.
Konig also took time for his hobbies, including music. She has been playing the piano since the age of 3 and has since taken up the clarinet, the violin (because the clarinet and the piano had lost their challenge) and the cello, because her violin teacher had told her that she would be a good cellist.
“At first I hated the idea of playing the cello, but now it’s my favorite instrument,” she says.
In high school, she also learned alto saxophone and percussion, and her freshman year in college she taught herself guitar. It’s more portable than the cello.
Her Carnegie Hall debut came after years without competition. In high school, she played classical piano through the Phoenix Music Teachers Association, but she stopped competing after graduating because it was harder to find competitions on her own. (Also, COVID has put many competitions on hold.) In December, she discovered the American organization Protégé, which was accepting video performance submissions. She submitted a video of herself performing and forgot about it until she received an email in February inviting her to perform at the legendary concert hall.
Konig’s process worked, but she wouldn’t really recommend it to other students — too stressful, too rushed at the end, she said. She advised other students to find these scholarship opportunities early and start working on applications immediately, including reaching out to faculty and staff to be readers or references. It can feel overwhelming, she says, but starting early and building a team to help through the process will make all the difference.
“The same goes for creating a good college experience for yourself — get involved on campus and in your communities as early as possible,” she said. “By doing this, you give yourself the opportunity to bond with teachers and friends that you can reach out for help.”
Did you know that the National and International Fellowships and Bursaries Office is open to all NAU students? Make an appointment today to find scholarships or fellowships you can apply for and get help applying.