Two Choctaws selected for scholarships in Ireland
November 1, 2021
DURANT, Okla. – One of the Chahta Foundation’s most prestigious education offerings is the Choctaw-Ireland Scholarship, which includes tuition and expenses paid by the Republic of Ireland for a Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma student. This year, for the first time, two young tribal members have been awarded scholarships. Claire Green Young and Austin West recently arrived at University College Cork, located in Ireland’s second-largest city, for a full year of study.
The Chahta Foundation provides opportunities for Choctaw people, mainly in the field of education. To date, over $2.5 million in scholarships have been given nationwide to over 500 Choctaw students. Competitive scholarships are available from the trades and first-year college students to doctoral degrees.
The Choctaw-Ireland Scholarship was instituted in recognition of assistance by the Choctaw people towards the people of Ireland during the Great Famine of the mid-nineteenth century and to deepen the relationship between the two nations today.
Simon Harris, the Government of Ireland’s Minister for Higher Education, said, “I am really delighted to see the success of the Choctaw Scholarship program, with two Choctaw Nation students choosing to study in Ireland this year. The scholarship program was initiated to provide a big ‘Yakoke’ (thank you) to the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, to recognize the great act of generosity and humanitarianism shown towards the Irish people during the Great Famine. These scholarships help foster greater ties between our two nations, and I look forward to continued growth and cooperation. I would like to extend my congratulations to this year’s successful scholars, Claire Green Young and Austin West, and I look forward to welcoming them to Ireland. I wish them both an enjoyable and productive time as they undertake their studies at University College Cork.”
Young, 22, plans to work toward her master’s degree in museum studies while at Cork.
Young grew up in Wright City and is the daughter of Ellen Green Young and the granddaughter of R.C. Green and Sharon Green. The Wright City High School student was admitted to Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, after graduation in 2017. She was involved in Native Americans at Dartmouth and worked to recruit Native American students, among other activities, as a Senior Fellow.
Young also participated in the Religion Department Foreign Study Program in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the History Department Foreign Study Program in London, England. Receiving as much independent work as allowed in the archives of the British Library, she said, “I got to study tribal history from where the colonies originated.” In addition, Young has completed several research projects on Choctaw tribal history and language.
Young said her “academic experiences, study abroad and commitment to Choctaw culture” led her to apply for the Choctaw-Ireland Scholarship. In the future, she plans to seek a doctoral degree in Choctaw tribal history and religion.
West, 23, will be working toward a master’s degree at Cork in international public policy and diplomacy.
West earned an Associate in Arts in political science from Tulsa Community College. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in political science with minors in international relations and global studies from the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) – all with a 4.0-grade point average. He graduated from UCO on May 7.
During his year of study in Ireland, West said, “I am also looking forward to getting into college clubs and learning about Irish culture.”
The Chahta Foundation is in its 10th year of connecting people who want to make a difference in their communities. For more information about the Choctaw-Ireland Scholarship and other educational opportunities offered by the foundation, visit www.ChahtaFoundation.com. To make or inquire about tax-deductible gifts to the Chahta Foundation, potential donors may contact the foundation at [email protected] or 800-522-6170.