Seniors sweep national Udall scholarship categories

By Beverly Makhani, Office of Undergraduate Education

Ellenwood,-left,-Torpey-and-WeyandPULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University seniors Rachel Ellenwood, Tillie Torpey and Logan Weyand have received national 2016 Udall Foundation awards in each of its three categories: native health care, tribal policy and the environment.

All of the awards represent a “first” for the university, said April Seehafer, director of the WSU Distinguished Scholarships Program, part of WSU Undergraduate Education.

Ellenwood is WSU’s first two-time Udall award winner; her award in 2015 made her the first student in WSU history to receive this scholarship. She is a pre-nursing and comparative ethnic studies major from Lapwai, Idaho, and a member of the Nez Perce Tribe.

Torpey, an elementary education major and member of the Coeur d’Alene tribe in Worley, Idaho, is WSU’s first Udall scholarship winner in the tribal policy category.

Weyand, a wildlife ecology major from Bainbridge Island, Wash., pursing veterinary medicine, is WSU’s first Udall winner in the environment category. His is also WSU’s first Udall honorable mention award.

“The interests and career aspirations of these exceptional students align perfectly with the mission of this prestigious national scholarship program,” said Seehafer. “Thanks to their Udall recognition, they will be role models for other students in terms of service to their Native communities and the environment.”

Funding for WSU education

Ellenwood and Torpey will receive up to $7,000 each to be applied toward the cost of their WSU education. They will attend a week-long Udall scholar orientation Aug. 9-14 in Tucson, networking with other recipients, learning about the Udall legacy of public service and interacting with community leaders in environmental fields, tribal health care and governance.

The Udall Foundation reports that 482 eligible applicants were nominated by 227 colleges nationwide, with 398 applying in the environment category, 33 in health care and 51 in tribal public policy. Sixty scholars and 51 honorable mentions were selected; 40 scholarships were awarded in the environment category; five in Native American health care – of whom three, including Ellenwood, were Udall Scholars in 2015; and 15 in tribal public policy.

Guiding students for five years

Since 2011, the Distinguished Scholarships Program has informed and assisted WSU students who seek awards to further their academic pursuits. A wall in the Compton Union Building (CUB) – the WSU Distinguished Scholars Gallery – celebrates the many students who have received the top national, federally funded awards including the Udall, Rhodes, Fulbright, Goldwater, Boren, Gilman and Truman.

For more information on the Udall and other WSU winners of nationally competitive awards, visit