Omaha – This spring commencement story is a triumph as the Goodrich Scholarship Program spotlights UNO graduate Jamaih Jay Tyndall.
Nestled between Winnebago and Macy on the Omaha Reservation is Walthill, Nebraska, a village in Thurston County. At the 2010 census, the population was 780. In 2017, Walthill Public School reported 30 seniors in their online district profile. The poverty rate for the district held at 95.16% (poverty for the state of Nebraska reports 44.12%). The community of Walthill is 80% Native American. Although lower than state averages, Walthill Public School (because of invested educators) graduated 84% of its students in 2017, up from 57% in 2015.
Tyndall grew up in Walthill under his grandfather’s guidance and care. Although he will tell you that he definitely struggled growing up, his grandfather was always there to inspire and support him through some difficult years. His grandfather instilled in him the strength and perseverance to continue with his education, stressing that he wanted Tyndall to be a college graduate.
To fulfill those dreams, Jay made a first attempt at college as a first-generation college student in Wayne, Nebraska, where he felt unprepared. In addition to his unease, his grandfather unexpectedly passed away. Although Tyndall’s friends and family supported him with love, it was difficult for him to be alone. At the time of his grandfather’s passing, Cindy Krafka, Native American outreach coordinator at UNO, helped to run the Challenge Our Youth to Succeed Program. It was here that she met Tyndall and helped to support him in fulfilling his grandfather’s desire for Tyndall to graduate and achieving his own dream.
Through a village of resources, extraordinary partnerships, and hard work, in fall 2014, Tyndall applied and got accepted to the UNO Goodrich Scholarship Program. Navigating his time as a ward of the State of Nebraska and his time as ward of the Omaha Indian Reservation presented initial challenges, but he soon became an adult and took on life as a UNO student.
On May 3, 2019, Jamiah Jay Tyndall became the fourth Walthill graduate to also graduate from UNO. His story is one of strength, beauty, and resilience — all qualities that he knows well. His ability to both be independent and lean on support systems has allowed him to thrive. His plans to invest in mental health reflect his years of persistence. Although Tyndall has plans to continue academically, this year he takes a deep breath and reflects back on his excellence and his successful navigation of college as he initially steps into employment with the Center of Autism and Related Disorders.
Walthill should be proud of this young man. We all should be proud of this young man. Today, because of Tyndall’s hard work, the commitment of a community, and the investment of the College of Public Affairs and Community Service, the Goodrich Scholarship Program shares in his celebratory graduation.
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