OAKVILLE, Wash. — When Amaria Rosado went to Kindergarten, she remembers something her mom did between dropping her off, and picking her up.
"My mom would sleep in the car because she was working night shift," Rosado said.
That parental devotion to education paid off. Rosado, who's a member of the Chehalis Tribe, is the first in her family to go to college. She's in her third year at the University of Washington, and embraces being a role model:
"Just make sure that you put on for your tribe, your people and just succeed in every way you can because individual indigenous excellence is success for us all," Rosado said.
She got help for higher education with a scholarship from the Washington Indian Gaming Association - or WIGA.
"When I applied to the WIGA Scholarship and got it, it was able to lift a huge financial burden from me," Rosado said.
Since 2008, WIGA has awarded nearly one million dollars to tribal youth for higher education.
This student support is vital, since only a few generations ago, residential boarding schools aimed to strip Native American students of their cultural identity.
"So there's was a big disconnect for our communities when it came to what education outside the reservation meant," said Rebecca George, Executive Director of WIGA.
Today, schools on reservations work hard to help kids feel like they belong - connecting them to their heritage, while getting them ready to take on their future.
"Higher education has the ability to transform lives, not just for the individual but for the entire community," George said.
Chehalis Tribal Chairman Dustin Klatush hopes scholarship students like Rosado will return to the reservation with their degrees.
"Having kids that are educated come back and take over for the older generation, you know, everybody has new ideas," Klatush said.
Rosado hopes to do just that. She plans to go to law school, and come back home as a tribal attorney. And to be an inspiration to other tribal kids to start an education journey of their own.
"The message that I was taught when I was little was whatever you do, give back to your people. I mean, we are a small percentage and our resiliency is in our kinship and our knowledge and in passing it to future generations," Rosado said.
The 2023 WIGA Scholarship Gala and Auction is Nov. 18th, 2023 hosted by the Cowlitz Tribe at ilani Casino Resort.
Sponsored by WIGA.