Four Tribal College Faculty Earn Terminal Degrees

Four Tribal College Faculty Earn Terminal Degrees in American Indian College Fund’s Mellon Faculty Career Enhancement Fellows Program

Four tribal college and university faculty participating in the American Indian College Fund’s Mellon Faculty Career Enhancement Fellows program have graduated. They will now serve their tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) using their knowledge and degrees.

The program provides financial assistance to TCU faculty who have reached candidacy and are in the writing stage in their doctoral programs. Fellows receive $40,000 in assistance through the program. They also participate in a faculty fellows’ retreat and writing retreat throughout the fellowship period.

Since 2004, the College Fund has awarded 44 fellowships in 15 cohorts. To date, 36 fellows have received their doctorate degrees through the fellowship program.

The four new graduates and their dissertations include:

Kelli Chelberg, Ed.D. Chelberg defended her dissertation in the Educational Leadership program at Edgewood College. She is a member of the 15th cohort and a faculty member of the Teacher Education and Pre-Engineering departments at the College of Menominee Nation (CMN). She assisted in developing the CMN STEM HERO program, an initiative with numerous entities collaborating on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) research, education, outreach, and overall student empowerment. Her dissertation is entitled “Using Photovoice and Photo-Elicitation to Understand Barriers and Successes Related to Tribal College Students’ Education.” Chelberg’s methodological approach will provide further in-depth understanding of TCU students’ experiences, which will be informative about necessary student support and resources to help TCU students achieve success.

Chris Fried, Ph.D. Fried defended his dissertation in the College of Education at the University of West Georgia. He is a member of the 14th cohort and the director of the Teacher Education department at Sitting Bull College (SBC). Since joining the department in 2013, Fried has implemented changes to course schedules and delivery that have led to increased student enrollment and graduation rates. His dissertation is entitled “The Role of Mentoring and Induction Programs for New Teachers in Schools Serving Native American Students.” Fried’s research has the potential to directly impact teacher outreach to Native and minority students within the Standing Rock reservation.

Colleen “Co” Carew, Ph.D. Carew defended her dissertation in the Expressive Arts Therapy program at Lesley University. She is a member of the 14th cohort and the department chair of the Social Work program at Salish Kootenai College. Carew has served as a faculty member for 20 years and recently developed curriculum that combines social work, psychology, and the arts through her workshop “Expression Through the Arts.” Her dissertation is entitled “Cultivating a Sense of Place Through Indigenous Arts.” Carew utilized the theoretical framework of Place to explore how Native students understand “place” through an Indigenous art making and storytelling experience, and ultimately developed a definition for “place-based imagery” with the acronym P (people) -L (land) -A (ancestry) -C (culture) -E (experiences) through the findings of her study.

Derek Stewart, Ed.D. Stewart defended his dissertation in the Educational Leadership program at the University of New England. He is a member of the 15th cohort and a faculty member in the education department at Sitting Bull College. Stewart is the lead instructor of the early childhood and special education courses. In addition to Derek’s teaching obligations, he has also held beading, ledger art, and Native American pottery workshops at the Sitting Bull Visitor Center. His dissertation is entitled “Intergenerational Trauma: Understanding the Relationship Between Culture, Wellness, and Achievement.” Stewart’s research has the potential to directly impact the academic achievement of Native students on the Standing Rock reservation by developing culturally responsive curriculum and wellness programs that utilize the Medicine Wheel model.

About the American Indian College Fund

Founded in 1989, the American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 30 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided 5,896 scholarships last year totaling $7.65 million to American Indian students, with more than 131,000 scholarships and community support totaling over $200 million since its inception. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit

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