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Indian Education Student of Excellence: Joseph Sullivan

Joseph Sullivan is a Booker T. Washington graduate, member of the Cherokee Nation, and one of the recipients of the 2020 Indian Education Students of Excellence award.

“The recognition provides the opportunity to reflect on the fruit of our student leaders’ effort. I have dedicated myself to increasing the visibility and sustainability of Native success within the Tulsa community, but without the commitment and courage of my peers, nothing would be possible,” said Joseph. “I am proud to represent this community of courageous youth. I will continue to achieve fulfillment in my obligation to protect the tradition and success of the community.”

Joseph said the Indian Education program helped him connect more with his Native heritage.

“The program has provided opportunities necessary to engage with community leaders from several backgrounds allowing me to redefine my constructs of success. The support from the program has interrupted the cyclic process of cultural disinheritance and motivated me to gain confidence in my identity,” said Joseph. “I have learned about the importance of visibility of Native culture within student bodies. The determination of our student leaders allows me to grow in an environment that values my perspective.”

During high school, Joseph participated in the Tulsa Native Youth Board, and he said he will remain active in the Tulsa Native community.

“My family’s urbanized adaptations of history and cultural practices were never absent, but the development of the Tulsa Native Youth Board gave me an outlet of participation. Engaging with successful and accepting Natives throughout the district grew my exposure to other cultures and gave me the courage to share and participate in school. The student community has been instrumental to my confidence and reception of our diverse identities,” said Joseph.

Joseph will attend the University of Oklahoma in the fall to pursue a career in law. He said he hopes to use that degree to protect the sovereignty of tribes.

For more information on the Indian Education Students of Excellence award, click here.