UND Today

University of North Dakota’s Official News Source

Trio of students take home top academic prizes

Two RAIN students earn Cobell Scholarships; Computer Science major wins Hispanic Scholarship Fund award

Eternal Flame image
UND archival image.

Three outstanding students have put the University of North Dakota on the map by winning national scholarships.

Sophomore Honors student and Computer Science major Mario Medeles, Manvel, Texas, earned a Hispanic Scholarship Fund award, while Nursing majors Erin Morin, Bottineau, N.D., and Ashley Davis, Belcourt, N.D., were named 2023 Cobell Scholars.

“These highly competitive, merit-based scholarships attract bright, hard-working and supremely service-minded students,” said Yee Han Chu, coordinator of Academic Support & Fellowship Opportunities at UND. “But these particular scholarships also are unique in that the recipients must demonstrate a commitment to returning to serve their under-resourced communities.”

“They bring a heightened awareness of their communities’ needs to their leadership, and they know effective leaders must understand and prioritize the needs of those they lead,” Chu added. “As individuals, they bring into practice every aspect of UND’s strategic vision: an appreciation for learning, a respect for equitable and diverse experiences, a sincere drive to create belonging among people, a mind that needs to explore and discover, and a profound desire to give back to others. Mario, Erin and Ashley are models for us all.”

The Cobell Scholarship

Morin and Davis, both seniors and enrolled members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, are part of UND’s Recruitment & Retention of American Indians into Nursing, a program more commonly known by its acronym RAIN.

The pair say they are incredibly grateful for the guidance and dedication of their RAIN mentors Elle Hoselton and Katey Monette. They wrote recommendation letters and did so much more, Chu said.

Ashley Davis
Ashley Davis

“They are standout student champions who have supported Erin and Ashley throughout their journey at UND,” she added.

In turn, Monette described the Cobell Scholars as very dedicated, compassionate individuals.

“I’ve seen Ashley grow throughout the program and overcome many challenges — both personal and academic,” Monette said. “It’s remarkable to watch, and I’m so proud of her. Ashley’s determination to do well and continue learning shows the type of dedication she’ll have to her future patients. She’ll make a lasting impact on her patients’ lives and the communities she serves.”

And this about Morin: “Erin is a brilliant young woman who continuously strives for 110 percent in all that she does. Not only is she intelligent, but she’s also very charismatic. I see her building strong relationships with her patients and having a profound influence on their health.”

Davis says her dream job would be to work in the emergency room or the intensive care unit at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

“I want to learn as much as I can and eventually make my way back to the Indian Health Service to share everything I’ve learned to help my fellow Native American people,” she said.

Erin Morin
Erin Morin

Morin, who’s also in the Pre-Medicine Program and earning a minor in Psychology, plans to work as a critical care nurse in the short term, and then advance her education to become a nurse practitioner or medical doctor.

Davis and Morin “are both amazing women, and I cannot wait to see the things they accomplish in the nursing profession,” Monette said.

The Cobell Scholarship, which includes up to $6,000 for undergraduate scholars, was established after tribal elder, activist and banker Elouise Cobell became the lead plaintiff in the 1996 groundbreaking class-action lawsuit challenging the United States for mismanagement of trust funds belonging to more than 500,000 Native Americans.

Thirteen years later, the federal government settled for $3.4 billion, the largest settlement in U.S. history.

Hispanic Scholarship Fund

Chu said sophomore Medeles’ selection as a Hispanic Scholarship Fund winner “reflects evidence of early talent in leadership, academics and community engagement.”

Medeles also is a semi-finalist for the 2023 Department of Defense SMART Scholarship for STEM students — the SMART stands for Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation.

And, in fact, Chu said it was an impressed SMART team that first recommended he apply for the highly competitive HSF scholarship. More than 124,000 students applied for about 10,000 scholarships.

“As a transplant from Texas, Mario needed to quickly orient himself to a very different local community,” Chu said. “His openness to new experiences brought him to UND and to my door, and I am so grateful to have met him. He is a highly reflective and intellectual person with a natural curiosity about the world. He wants to give back to the Hispanic community in a meaningful way.”

Mario Medeles
Mario Medeles

Medeles says he has some time yet to think about his future, but he’s considering pursuing a master’s in Computer Science.

“While I’m finishing my undergrad, I hope to narrow down my interests within the technology field. I have quite a few ideas and ambitions I want to pursue,” he said. “Some of these ideas include working in cybersecurity up to the federal level or working in software development within the VR, AR and MR (virtual, augmented and mixed reality) domains, or using my computer science skills to work alongside criminal justice.”

He added that his dream job would be inspired by the movie “Ready Player One.” The film centers on a revolutionary piece of technology called the OASIS, he explained, which “immerses real life and VR to a whole new level.”

As an HSF Scholar, Medeles will receive an award up to $5,000 based on his total financial aid package.

According to an HSF news release, he’ll also have access to “a full range of invaluable scholar support services, including select internship and job opportunities with HSF partners, mentorship, leadership development, knowledge building and wellness training.”

He also will be eligible to apply for all HSF scholar conferences, including the STEM Summit and Entrepreneur summits.

>> IT COULD BE YOU. A number of national and international organizations offer scholarships and fellowships to exceptional students who want to develop knowledge and skills beyond the classroom. It’s highly competitive, but UND is here to support you through the application process. Learn more about it.