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Two OSU students honored in 2024 Udall Scholarship competition

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Media Contact: Sydney Trainor | Communications and Media Relations | 405-744-9782 |

When Shaeleigh McGee thinks about her future, she sees a career shaping tribal public policy through criminal justice reform. 

McGee was selected as OSU’s 21st Udall Scholar, the third in three straight years in the Indian Country categories.  

Elizabeth Struble was also honored. She was selected as one of 55 Udall Scholar honorable mentions in the environmental category and is OSU’s 11th honorable mention. 

“Shaeleigh and Elizabeth exemplify OSU’s land-grant mission and responsibility to support future servant-leaders dedicated to addressing the nation’s most pressing issues,” said Jessica Sullins, Scholar Development and Undergraduate Research director. 

The Udall Scholarship honors the legacies of Morris and Stewart Udall, whose careers significantly impacted American Indian self-governance, health care, and the stewardship of public lands and natural resources. Each scholarship provides up to $7,000 for eligible academic expenses for the scholar’s junior or senior year of academic study.

Shaeleigh McGee
Shaeleigh McGee

A native of Duncan, Oklahoma, McGee is a member of the Chickasaw Nation and Mississippi Choctaw Band of Indians. She is working toward her future career at Oklahoma State University, where she is a junior majoring in sociology emphasizing in criminology and criminal justice in the College of Arts and Sciences  

“I'm passionate about the criminal justice system and how it needs reform in tribal nations because they're so limited in what they can do with criminal prosecutions and I think that's important because Oklahoma is mostly a tribal reservation,” McGee said.   

At OSU, McGee is heavily involved in the Native American Student Association, where she has served as cultural chair, vice president and a volunteer for the OSU Powwow and Harvest Moon Festival. McGee was crowned 2023 Miss American Indian OSU and she is a student leader in the Center for Sovereign Nations  

Sitting in a class called Inventing Your Future, McGee decided to use her career aspirations and student involvement and to apply for the Udall Scholarship.   

A member of the Honors College, McGee plans to attend law school and work in the tribal community, bridging the gap between sovereign rights and the state/federal governments. 

When McGee found out she was awarded this scholarship, she was in disbelief but now she is excited for the doors this program will open.  

“I really look forward to the Udall experience, because I know they're sending me to Tucson this summer,” McGee said. “I'm a little nervous since I have never traveled, but I think it's going to be a good experience and I appreciate that they're giving me this opportunity to travel.” 

With one year left in her undergraduate career, McGee looks forward to continuing her sociolegal research on tribal sovereignty and her involvement in the Native American Student Association. This summer, she will be traveling to Tucson, Arizona.

Elizabeth Struble became interested in environmental science in high school and as she started college, her interest in plant and soil science bloomed.  

Elizabeth Struble
Elizabeth Struble

The Owasso, Oklahoma, native is double majoring in environmental science and plant and soil science with a concentration in soil and water resources in the Ferguson College of Agriculture and has extensive undergraduate research experience focusing on mycorrhizal fungi. 

“I applied because the opportunity seemed interesting,” Struble said. “I’ve never applied for something as large as the Udall scholarship that’s on the national level, so I wanted to give it a try for this national scholarship.”   

The application process enabled Struble to refine her writing and editing abilities. It gave her a new perspective on the amount of effort required to succeed nationally.

“I really loved being an institutional nominee for OSU,” Struble said. “It was a big honor, and I had a great experience with the other nominees It is worth the time and effort even if you don’t win a spot as a Udall scholar as the skills you learn and people you meet are invaluable.” 

Struble plans to pursue a master's degree in environmental science and research water resources and soil health.  

“OSU’s service-oriented student body and exceptional academic programs suit the Udall Foundation and its mission perfectly,” Sullins said. “The continued recognition of OSU students at the national level is also a testament to the support of the university community, particularly the dedicated mentorship of OSU faculty and staff, as well as units such as the Center for Sovereign Nations, which serves all native students on campus.” 

The Udall Scholarship program is coordinated by the Henry Bellmon Office of Scholar Development and Undergraduate Research at OSU, which has long been a national leader and innovator in scholar development, assisting highly motivated students through competition for prestigious national/international scholarships and fellowships.  

The office also encourages student-faculty mentoring, undergraduate research, curricular options in the OSU Honors College, international travel experience and exposure to other cultures. For more information, contact Jessica Sullins at or phone 405-744-7313. 

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