Graduates, tutors and mentors were honored at the Native American Student Services graduation reception at Ammons Hall Thursday.
The reception featured an awards ceremony, which honored members of the North Star Mentoring Program, Eagle Feather Tutoring program and this year's Native American graduates. John Lincoln, the senior adviser and chief of staff to President Penley, opened the event, and Ethel Connelly, a NASS distinguished alumni, gave a speech.
"This is an opportunity to honor our graduates and their accomplishments," said Ty Smith the director of NASS. "We also want to honor our mentors and tutors that we have in our office."
Graduates Winona Barlemay, Alex Christy, Andrea Israel, Seth Mund, Sammie Uhrig, Kelly Upshaw, Delbert Willie and Tracy Young were each presented a Pendleton blanket.
"Graduates are getting a Pendleton blankets, which are made by the Pendleton Mills Company," Smith said. "The tradition behind this is a show of friendship and honor, which has been going on for hundreds of years."
The graduates were blessed in a native tradition using an eagle feather and sweet grass.
"It is awesome to be honored this way," said Andrea Israel, a graduating sociology major.
"It reinstates the fact that you have a family at CSU," she said. "I consider a lot of the faculty members here family. This was all really nice."
NASS distinguished alumni Ethel Connelly told the graduates to believe in themselves.
"Don't let anyone tell you just because you are Native American you can't do it," she said. "Believe in yourself and the rest will come."
Connelly graduated from CSU's School of Veterinary Medicine in 1989. In 1993 she started Grass Winds Veterinary Clinic on the Blackfoot Indian Reservation, which is only two miles from her lifelong home.
"Not only do we want to acknowledge her (Connelly) on her accomplishments, but she is a role model for other students," Smith said. "She is not only a vet, but a business owner as well."
Members of the Eagle Feather Tutoring Program Alex Christy, Courtney Kemp, Joseph Robertson, Adria Robinson, Michael Steigerwald and Megan Vizina were each given framed pictures of eagles as an appreciation of their work.
The Eagle Feather Tutoring Program is free for students on a walk-in or appointment basis in the NASS office.
Members of the North Star Mentoring Program Andrea Gomez, Eric Heim, Tessa Seaboy, Sammie Uhrig and Delbert Willie were each given framed pictures of rams for their work.
The North Star Mentoring Program assists Native American students who need help with the transition into college life, study skills or any other guidance issues.
NASS started its tutoring and mentoring programs in 2004.