McCord Hall.

W. P. Carey student honored with Udall Foundation scholarship

An advocate for Native American people, Ethan Tacheene (Business Law '25) is passionate about Tribal policy.

Molly Loonam

"By becoming an Udall scholar, I can help my people and myself," says Ethan Tacheene (Business Law '25), a member of the Navajo Nation and 2024 Udall Undergraduate Scholarship recipient. "This scholarship creates a path for scholars to advocate for the Native American people and others in similar positions."

Tacheene is one of 55 sophomores and juniors nationally to receive the prestigious scholarship awarded annually by the Udall Foundation to students doing exemplary work in the environmental, health care, and Tribal public policy fields. Founded in 1992 by Congress, the foundation honors Morris K. Udall's dedication to supporting American Indians and Alaska Natives and his commitment to preserving the nation's natural resources, public lands, and environment.

Tacheene's path to becoming an Udall scholar wasn't easy. In high school, the stress of paying for college nearly prevented him from applying, and he contemplated not returning to ASU while taking a gap year. Tacheene heard about the Udall scholarship through Barrett, The Honors College's Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarships Advisement (ONSA), and received an honorable mention after his first application. He saw the setback as a learning opportunity and decided to reapply.

"Winning this scholarship eliminates obstacles and proves that even when you're discouraged, you can achieve something great," he says.

Ethan Tacheene

While going through the application process for a second time, Tacheene worked closely with Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Clinical Professor Michele Pfund, Professor and Associate Dean of the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication Olga Davis, and Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law Faculty Associate Armand Ganajian. He got involved with the Native American Church (Navajo Reservation Organization) and with the ASU community through the Native American Business Organization, the American Indian Inclusions Initiative, and the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples, and advised Barrett on encouraging Native American student enrollment at the university. Tacheene wrote the application's essay on a topic close to his heart — tribal policy.

"Ethan is an extraordinary young man with a strong commitment to personal integrity, the environment, and Native American causes," says Pfund. "He has demonstrated exemplary dedication to advocating for the well-being of Indigenous communities and has dedicated his free time to supporting high school students from the reservation by providing valuable advice on scholarships, admissions, and time management. Although he has achieved tremendous success, he has not forgotten the challenges that others face and actively gives back."

Tacheene describes his home as a developing country — he grew up in a house without running water or electricity and didn't have a phone until his sophomore year of high school — and hopes that becoming an Udall scholar will inspire others from similar backgrounds.

"Native Americans are in a state of oppression. People have forgotten how much we've lost, and we face stereotypes because of the lack of communication with the off-reservation world," says Tacheene. "But there is beauty and strength in how we, as Native American people, can move forward."

Tacheene plans to attend law school after graduation and eventually start a law practice on the reservation to advocate for his people's economic stability and rights. The Navajo Nation has an unemployment rate of 48.5%, and many households live far below the poverty line. Initiating economy-boosting programs can be difficult since the reservation falls under federal regulations. Tacheene worries how younger generations will fare without the funding, resources, and connections they need to build a thriving economy.

"I chose to major in business law because it's the most effective way to help uplift the economy," says Tacheene. "My culture is very sacred. A law firm could help advocate for people's businesses, families, and resources."

Latest news