Before Jolie Morgan stepped foot on OU’s Norman campus, she grew up in the capital of the Cherokee Nation: Tahlequah, Okla. As a child, Morgan learned to speak, read, and write Cherokee while attending the Cherokee Immersion Charter School.
Now, as an OU student, she is a member of the American Indian Student Association (AISA) and Alpha Gamma Delta and serves as the vice president of inclusivity for the Panhellenic Association Executive Council. Between classes and during events, you can find Morgan studying and spending time in the Five Moon Student Lounge—a space in Copeland Hall for Native students.
Jolie: I celebrate by attempting to learn about my culture at every turn, and then using that knowledge in my daily life. Small things such as learning to bead, learning new Cherokee words, or even just spending time with other Native students allow me to celebrate my indigeneity. Whatever makes you feel close to your heritage and in touch with your culture celebrates your indigeneity.
Jolie: I came to OU because I felt like I genuinely found a home. Other schools I considered would’ve allowed me to attend, but OU seemed like they truly wanted me on campus. I saw a place that valued and celebrated student contributions.
Jolie: I would tell them not to be afraid to stand out. Oftentimes, it’s easy to blend in and stand in the background. We need to take up the space we deserve and loudly celebrate our heritage and our people’s steadfastness.
In sixth grade, Necole Begay discovered her passion for mechanical engineering through a science fair project. By testing local windmill wells on the Navajo Reservation, Begay found bacterial colonies present that made the water unsafe to drink. From that moment onward, she set out on a journey as an OU mechanical engineering student in hopes that she can return home to the Navajo Nation and resolve the water crisis.
Necole: I love everything about OU. It’s been everything I imagined as a little girl. I love showing my friends and family around campus when I get the chance. Some of my favorite study spots include the Great Reading Room in the Biz and the Engineering Practice Facility (EPF). I have so many great memories here, and one that stands out is attending my first football game as a student. I always imagined what it would be like to sit in the student section, and to see my dreams become a reality was indescribable.
Necole: I’m involved in the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), where I am serving my second term as president. I joined to help build a sense of community for myself while away from home. It has helped me develop my professional skills. If it weren’t for AISES, I wouldn’t have had the opportunities to intern with companies Chevron, Navajo Mine, and IBM. This has also led to great networking opportunities with others, such as Boeing, GE Aviation, Intel, Fiat-Chrysler, and more.
Necole: My favorite place is the Diversity and Inclusion office in the Gallogly College of Engineering because of Lisa Morales, the executive director of Diversity and Inclusion. She has been a huge support system since I met her. When I walk into the office, I feel at home. Everyone is always welcoming, and the office also offers tutoring services!