2015 Tillman Scholar

Jameson Lopez

Arizona State University
Ph.D, Educational Policy & Evaluation

“If you truly want to get across to Native American students today, you have to be involved in their communities.”

Hailing from Kwat’san (Quechan) Tribe in Fort Yuma, CA, Jameson spent a significant amount of his childhood and adult years with Native communities, learning the value of his “warrior” spirit and ultimately accepted the greatest and most respected calling in his community by joining the service. Along with Jameson, 20 family members including grandfathers, uncles and cousins have served tours as his Quechan Tribal Nation has fought in every major American battle.

As a leader of a tank platoon deployed in support of Operation New Dawn, Jameson was responsible for coordinating over 300 combat missions with the Iraqi and Kurdish security forces. Experiences during deployments taught Jameson to adapt to environments to accomplish the mission at hand, but his experience attending a funeral of a teenage boy on a reservation made him realize the importance of educators’ influence on young Native American students in a small community.

As veterans are highly regarded in the tribal community, Jameson plans to use his military service as a platform to serve as a leader in the education field and influence Native American communities to increase access and attainment in higher education through developing Native American education policies customized to cultural values of the respective tribes.

He currently serves as an Assistant Professor in the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Arizona. He studies Native American education using Indigenous statistics and has expertise in the limitations of collecting and applying quantitative results to Indigenous populations. As an Indigenous quantitative researcher with expertise in the limitations of collecting and applying quantitative results to Native American populations, he tends to examine research through tribal critical race theory, which contends governmental policies toward Native American focus on the problematic goal of assimilation. This challenge often results in relatively low numbers of Native American voices in comparison to dominant culture voices in quantitative research, but can be overcome through increasing Native American participation in academic and policy discourse, and including Native American voices in quantitative research through Indigenous statistics.

Read Jameson’s Tillman Tuesday Q & A.