News Briefs – Wings Spring 2024

News Briefs – Wings Spring 2024



College of Education professor receives national award for dissertation

HU Assistant Professor Amy Nuñez, Ph.D., received third place in the Kurt M. Landgraf Outstanding Dissertation Award from the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE) and the Educational Testing Service. The award is given annually to spotlight top doctoral students and to showcase Hispanic students’ excellence. The goal is to encourage more Hispanic students to pursue doctoral degrees and to enhance the quality of the dissertations these students write.

Nuñez received her award for her dissertation, I Wish They Knew We Existed: The Academic Experiences of Latinx College Students in Mixed-Status Families. She completed her work as part of her doctoral studies at Indiana University-Bloomington, where she earned a Ph.D. in Education Policy. She presented her dissertation at the AAHHE conference in March when she received her award. Heritage Eagle


Theatrical troupe set to perform professor’s script on a national tour

Professor Winona Wynn received an award from The National Endowment for the Arts to write a script about the life of Sacagawea, a Lemhi Shoshone woman who helped Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their expedition to cross the western United States.

Sacagawea was performed by The Core Ensemble at a special invitation- only venue in Lakeworth, Florida. It was so well received that the company commissioned Wynn to write two additional scripts featuring Native American women to be included in a production that will go on tour across the United States this fall. Wynn completed a script about Wilma Mankiller, the first primary chief of the Cherokee Nation, and has a third script about Yankton Dakota writer, educator, translator, musician and political activist Zitkala-Ša, in progress.

The Core Ensemble performs works highlighting three historical figures in a presentation that blends compelling narrative with musical accompaniment. Each production includes educational programming to accompany the stories. Heritage Eagle





HU alumni challenge other graduates to Pay it Forward

A new endowed scholarship established by Heritage graduates will help future students rounding the corner toward graduation. Called Pay it Forward, the fund was started by two Heritage alumni to both give thanks for the help they received when they were undergraduates and to pass along those blessings to future generations of students. The couple, who wish to remain anonymous, set up the endowment with the initial contribution and hope that other graduates will contribute to the fund and help it grow.

“Most of us Heritage alumni received some sort of financial support while we were in college. We envision other alumni contributing to this fund as a way to help students get an extra push on their final step in their educational journey.”

Scholarships from the fund are earmarked for junior and senior students.

Endowed scholarships have the potential to make the greatest impact on the greatest number of students over time. They are created through a significant initial investment, which is held in perpetuity and invested for long-term growth. Scholarships are awarded annually as directed by the university Board of Directors. Gifts to the university can be directed to the endowed scholarship, which will grow the principal and ultimately increase the number of students who benefit from the gift. To make your gift to Pay it Forward, visit Heritage Eagle

Nursing program gets shot in the arm with grant to expand outreach and support

Heritage University received a three-year, $1.4 million grant from the Biden-Harris Administration to launch an innovative program to address the critical shortage of nurses in our rural communities. The program is called Pathways to Opportunity and takes a two-pronged approach to addressing nursing education. First, it increases outreach into local high schools to guide students interested in a nursing career and helps them prepare for college. Second, it provides for dedicated case managers within the university’s nursing program who will help all Bachelor of Nursing students prepare for the licensing examination, and offers career guidance, advising, and mentorship. The goal of this approach is to ensure that incoming students are prepared for the rigors of college and that, when enrolled, they receive the wrap-around support that keeps them engaged and more likely to persist to graduation.

“This substantial investment from the Biden-Harris administration underscores the importance of addressing the critical shortage of nurses in rural communities and Heritage University’s role in helping to fill those gaps,” said Dr. Melissa Hill, Heritage provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.

Pathways to Opportunity will focus on Native American, Hispanic, low-income, and first- generation high school and college students. Outreach will target students in the eight high schools in communities surrounding the university’s Toppenish campus and the Yakama Tribal School. Heritage Eagle


Quarter million dollar gift directed to support DACA and DREAMER students

Heritage University received a $250,000 gift from the directors of the Bezos Family Foundation to support the institution’s DACA Emergency and DREAMER Funds. This transformative contribution reflects a commitment to supporting the immediate needs of undocumented students facing unforeseen challenges.

Each year, the Bezos Family Foundation’s Board of Directors chooses non-profit organizations that align with the Foundation’s mission. In selecting Heritage, the Foundation’s directors recognize the university’s work to provide equitable opportunities to children and youth in its communities.

“This gift underscores the understanding that the foundation directors have of challenges undocumented students face if they wish to pursue a college education. DACA and DREAMER students do not qualify for federal financial aid, often creating situations where the cost of attending college is insurmountable,” said Dr. Andrew Sund, Heritage president. “This gift helps level the playing field for students to pursue a college degree regardless of their immigration status.” Heritage Eagle