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Sarah Obed

Morris Thompson scholarship recipient Sarah Obed believes the effort it takes to gain a college degree is worth the effort, and encourages others to pursue their degree.

“Realize you can do it, but know it takes a serious commitment and that things can sometimes be difficult,” Obed advised fellow students. “But finishing your degree means a lifetime of payoffs in earnings and opportunities.”

Obed, who is originally from Minto, Alaska, is currently living in Ann Arbor, Mich., where she is attending the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. She will graduate in April 2011 with a master’s of public policy.

With her diploma in hand, Obed will return with her husband, Stephen, to Alaska, where she hopes to work for a public institution, Native organization or nonprofit. Her areas of interest and expertise include governance, tribal and Alaska Native issues, health policy, land use policies, community organizing and criminal justice issues.

Obed, who served in the Peace Corps and lived in the South Pacific for two years, said being so far from home has at times been difficult. Yet, whether serving overseas or pursuing a college degree, she has relied on Alaska’s community for support. One of the things she’s done while at the University of Michigan is to help her school to plan a recruitment trip to Alaska. Two staff members will travel to Alaska in June, and Obed said she has connected them with Alaska Native organizations.

“I’m hoping to encourage more Native students to pursue a degree at one of the finest public educational research institutions in the U.S.,” Obed said.

Obed also stays involved and active at her school. She is a member of the Students of Color in Public Policy and of the Native Caucus. She also writes articles for the Ford School magazine State & Hill.

The Morris Thompson competitive scholarship that Obed received from Doyon Foundation has also helped to ease the challenges of pursuing her master’s degree.

“The scholarship from Doyon Foundation took a financial worry from my shoulders, and has allowed me to focus on my studies. Indeed, I’ve seen my grade point average increase from my first year of graduate school to this year. Part of that has been the course load, but part of that has also been from the lack of financial concern and stress. It’s helped me in a very real way achieve my goal and my master’s degree,” Obed said.

Obed is the daughter of Paul Sherry and Irene Robin Sherry, and the granddaughter of Edward and Eleanor Sherry and Walter and Louise Titus.