Junior Jorden Revels is one of 55 students selected nationwide as a 2019 Udall Scholar.
Revels is the first-ever UNCP student to be awarded a prestigious Udall Scholarship. He will receive up to $7,000 in scholarships.
The Udall Foundation awards scholarships to college sophomores and juniors who display leadership, public service and commitment to Native American nations or environmental issues.
Revels will get a chance to meet other scholars and program alumni August 6-11 in Tucson, Arizona. They will learn more about the Udall legacy of public service and interact with community leaders in environmental fields, tribal health care and governance.
The scholarship honors the legacies of Morris Udall and Stewart Udall, whose careers had a significant impact on Native American self-governance, health care, and the stewardship of public lands and natural resources.
Revels, a psychology major, is an active spokesperson for environmental concerns in the Robeson County area where he grew up. He currently serves as UNCP’s Student Government Vice President and holds an executive position as the Associate Minority Serving Institution Representative for the UNC System’s Association of Student Government.
“I did a lot of work across the state as well as with local entities such as the Lumbee Tribe, different nonprofits and Appalachian Voices. A lot of the work that we did was around the subject of raising awareness and educating people about the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline,” he said.
“We also spoke with a lot of different tribal entities such as the Lumbee Tribal Council and the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs. A lot of the work was centered on that, so there was the tie-in of not just the tribal public policy but also the environment.”
He noted a lot of the work he does is behind-the-scenes, so the acknowledgment that he was selected for this scholarship as the first from UNCP, along with the challenges he had to overcome, meant the most to him.
“To be able to defy statistics, because that’s really what I see my experience as, American Indian students across the nation are statistically the lowest retention rates and success rates for four-year college graduates and more particularly American Indian males.
“From my background in Robeson County where we face poverty and a lack of opportunities and resources that others would have across the nation, it was really a moment of feeling well deserved. Despite all the setbacks or lack of opportunities, I was still able to give it my all and become a Udall Scholar,” Revels said.
He is scheduled to graduate May 2020. He is considering an additional year at UNCP in order to earn a degree in American Indian Studies. Afterward, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in environmental psychology.