Montana State University grad William Mendoza has been named by President Barack Obama the head of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education.
Mendoza earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from MSU in 2010, a press release from MSU said, and will be the first leader of the new federal initiative to increase and improve educational opportunities for Indian Country.
One focus of the initiative will be to help drop-outs find ways back into the education system.
“We’re working hard to reduce the American Indian and Alaska Native student dropout rate and making sure students who stay in high school are ready to start their career by the time they complete college,” Mendoza said.
Previously, Mendoza was acting director of the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities, or WHITCU. The office works to ensure that the nation’s tribal colleges and universities are more fully recognized, better informed and given full access to federal programs.
Mendoza, who is an enrolled Oglala Sioux and has deep Sicangu Sioux roots, grew up on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Indian Reservations in South Dakota.