Payne receives Wilma Rule Scholarship |

Payne receives Wilma Rule Scholarship

by Virginia York

On Aug. 22 KaLynn Payne set out on her journey to Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colo. KaLynn has lived in Hung-a-Lel-ti all her life. She is the granddaughter of Hazel Payne and the daughter of Raymond and Marilyn. Her brother, Raymond, is at Westpoint and her sister, Sari, is an administrative assistant at the Education Center in Hung-a-Lel-ti. Her mother always encouraged her to set her sights on college. Her father also stressed the importance of education and drove the children to school when they didn’t get up in time to go down to Carson Valley with their mother who would drop them at school on her way to work.

KaLynn started kindergarten in Gardnerville Elementary School, attended Diamond Valley School for grades 6-8, Pau-Wa-Lu for 9th grade, then Douglas High School. Initially at Diamond Valley School she was not good at math. She asked to be in the Opportunity School classroom where, under Ginger Craik’s tutelage, she started to understand and even like math. At Douglas High School she found Mr. Cole, the psychology teacher, to be an inspiration. She used to look forward to his class which was so enjoyable that the students didn’t realize they were learning. Not surprisingly, KaLynn will be majoring in psychology at Fort Lewis College.

From grades 9-12 KaLynn was a member of the Native American Club. At Pau-Wa-Lu the club gave a presentation in front of the whole school. In high school the club went to Pau-Wa-Lu to talk to the Native American students. KaLynn has volunteered at the Douglas Animal Shelter and for Alpine County Library. Before leaving for college she was working in the Hung-a-Lel-ti Education Center, helping with programs such as cooking with teens, art projects, storytime, and “Critter Corner.”

Marilyn Payne was a hospice nurse for Wilma Rule. Marilyn and Wilma enjoyed a friendly association shortly before Wilma died in 2004. Although KaLynn never met Wilma, her mother would tell the family stories of their times together and about Wilma’s accomplishments. When KaLynn was a senior Marilyn suggested that she apply for the Wilma Rule American Indian Scholarship. KaLynn was interviewed by Irving Krauss, Wilma’s husband, who urged KaLynn to get as much education as she could. KaLynn was awarded the $5,000 scholarship, which will be administered by FLC.

Years ago Wilma and Irving put funds into an educational trust to encourage Native Americans to enter a four year college or university. The scholarship, now named after Wilma, is open to any Native American resident of Alpine County. Irving states in his book: “The Insiders’ Journey,” ” It is my fervent hope that others will have the opportunity that Wilma and I had. Our fateful journey began as children born into essentially working class families and in spite of the privations of our early years achieved professional lives that were interesting and rewarding. A major factor was the accessibility of excellent education.” Irving is a Sociologist and Wilma was a political scientist. Both became became professors at major universities. Wilma was instrumental in establishing District 3 in Alpine County, which ensured that the Native American vote would not be split. Following the 1990 Census the Indian community was going to be divided into two districts. Wilma was familiar with the 1962 Voting Rights Act as amended which states that any identifiable minority group is to have its own district. Through Irving’s efforts on the Alpine County School Board, our county is the only one that has a designated slot for a Native American Board member.

Last spring KaLynn travelled to Fort Lewis Liberal Arts College where she spent two days, touring the campus, and talking to the welcoming staff and students. She liked the smaller size of the college. The surrounding country reminded her of Alpine County. The 247-acre campus is situated at 6,872 feet on a mesa overlooking the Animas River Valley and downtown Durango. “Because of its unique origins as a military fort turned Indian boarding school turned state public school, Fort Lewis …follows a 1911 mandate to provide a tuition-free education for qualified Native Americans…

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“The Native American Center, offers an on-campus place to study, work and socialize while promoting the academic success and personal development of all Native American students through academic, cultural, social and spiritual support,” according to the college’s Wikipedia page.

Three buildings on campus have been awarded LEED Gold Status by the US Green Building Council for their sustainability features. These environmental awards helped FLC be named one of “America’s Coolest Schools” by Sierra Magazine, the official publication of the Sierra Club, in 2011.

Best wishes KaLynn, on your great adventure.

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