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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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First Wunsch scholarship awards NMSU Native American business student

Accounting student Caroline Cates has received the first William C. and Wilhelm A. Wunsch Scholarship for New Mexico State University Native American business students. The award is geared for those students who plan to apply their education to assist their reservations.

Cates is from Antelope Look Out on the Navajo reservation and a graduate of nearby Crownpoint, N.M., High School. She'll graduate from NMSU in July, then plans to take the certified public accountant's exam and eventually own her own business.

She worked with the reservation's Head Start and Save the Children organizations, and wants to use her accounting experience to help them. "When I return to Crownpoint, it's like going back in time," she said. "I know how much they can use my expertise."

The annual scholarship was funded by William C. Wunsch, an NMSU alumnus and a partner in a San Francisco law firm specializing in immigration law and Indian rights. Through 33 years of litigation, he helped 2,600 Native Americans in northern California gain judgments against the United States for unlawfully withholding reservation timber revenues. From this experience, he recognized the need for Native Americans to have their own businesspeople managing reservation assets.

The scholarship also honors his father, Wilhelm A. Wunsch, who worked in NMSU agriculture extension from 1928 to 1959, and was the first director of the NMSU-headquartered New Mexico Fruit and Vegetable Standardization Service.

"Getting scholarships tells you that others believe in you," Cates said. "It motivates you to try even harder."