Sophomore Joseph Locklear is UNC’s first American Indian Udall Scholar

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Joseph Locklear, a sophomore studying health care, won the Udall Scholarship last week. He belongs to the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.

Locklear became UNC’s first American Indian Udall Scholar on Friday.

The Udall Foundation, which funds the national scholarship, is named after Morris and Stewart Udall. The three scholarship categories cater to specific student interests, including the environment and tribal policy.

“Our UNC committee selected and nominated Joseph, in particular, for the Udall Scholarship in native health care,” said Mary Floyd-Wilson, director of the Office of Distinguished Scholarships.

Some of the scholarships are awarded specifically to American Indian sophomores and juniors for their commitment to working toward a career that will enable them to impact native health care or tribal policy.

“I have always had an interest in working in health/medicine,” Locklear said in an email. “I aspire to work in healthcare because I grew up in a family where health issues were prominent.”

He said growing up, he felt powerless while he watched his grandparents endure diabetes.

“The thought of being able to ameliorate the health of my own family and future generations has inspired me,” he said.

Locklear hopes to pursue a medical career in order to help address the problems within the American Indian community.

Locklear also works to build relations between the American Indian communities at UNC.

“It is his hope to positively impact American Indian awareness and education while a student and beyond,” said Marcus Collins, the assistant dean for the Center for Student Success and Academic Counseling and an Indian American. “Joseph combined his personal passions for American Indian issues and advocacy with his desire for campus involvement.”

Locklear, a Lumbee tribe member, became involved with the Carolina Indian Circle and UNC’s chapter of Phi Sigma Nu Fraternity, the country’s first American Indian fraternity.

Collins said those organizations align with the issues that Locklear values and allow Locklear and other Indian American students to live out their values in a culturally relevant way.

“By contributing to the community here, they are also giving back to their home communities,” Collins said. “This is an important component of our identity as Native people.”

Locklear said through his involvement in those organizations, he has received support and formed a rapport and long-term relationships with American Indian faculty members.

“Through CIC and some of the classes I’ve taken here, I’ve come to realize that being Native is less about visibility and more about mentality,” Locklear said.

“I specifically tell Native students, though, to be prepared to join a community where you’re needed ... a community that needs your involvement in order to increase the essence of the Native American life, not only here at UNC, but potentially on a nationwide scale.”

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