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Master's grad plans to expand communication technologies in tribal homelands

December 18, 2012

New technologies in communication are essential for the progress of Native American communities, says Alaina George, a member of the Navajo Nation. George wants to help Native Americans take advantage of the opportunities technology and science can provide to tribal homelands.

“I hope that my work at ASU will help document what the Navajo Nation has implemented to date in regards to telecommunication,” she says. “I also hope that it allows others to realize that information and communication technologies are just the first step and a lot has to happen for it to be sustainable.”

George is graduating with an interdisciplinary Professional Science Master (PSM) degree from ASU’s Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes (CSPO) in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The innovative PSM degree was a natural fit for her goals, as it is designed to prepare graduate students in science and technology with enhanced training in business and management skills.

After receiving a bachelor’s in Business Administration in Management Information Systems from the University of New Mexico, George searched for a graduate school. 

“After reading about the New American University vision, I really felt that ASU was where I wanted to be,” she says.

She encountered enthusiasm and encouragement when she met with faculty and staff at CPSO as well as the American Indian Policy Institute. 

“All things considered, it really just felt like the best place for me to study and to be able to research this particular topic.”

A family tragedy made the support from CPSO even more heartfelt. “My uncle had terminal liver cancer, and in January of 2012, he passed away. My department was very understanding and I was able to attend classes via televideo while I stayed with family.”

As a recipient of the 2011 Graduate College Reach for the Stars fellowship, George participated in the Interdisciplinary Research Colloquium (IRC) seminar series (formerly called Diversity across the Curriculum), where she collaborated across disciplines with other first-year graduate students. “My fellow students all had such interesting topics to research and were also a great support group to have.”

During her graduate studies, George interned in Washington, D.C. for the executive director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education. “I was able to learn about what goes on at that level of government. It was also amazing to see firsthand how much work people put in to create change in Native communities, at all levels.”

George is already employed in Albuquerque at the Indian Health Service Area office as the TeleEducation Coordinator for the TeleBehavioral Health Center for Excellence. She plans to return to ASU to celebrate with her family at commencement.

“My family has been incredibly supportive and they tell me how proud they are," she says. "It’s good for my younger family members to see that it is possible to go to graduate school. I want them to know that anything is possible if you apply yourself and set goals for yourself. It’s something my parents shared with me and I think it is the reason I’ve come this far.”

Michele St George,
Graduate College