Ripples of an Education
PROVO, Utah – Nov 07, 2022 – During her time at BYU, Chauma Jansen received a scholarship from American Indian Services for her undergraduate studies. That scholarship helped her through school, and she was able to receive both her bachelor’s degree in sociology and master’s degree in public administration from BYU. Twenty years later, as a BYU Marriott alumna and the executive director of American Indian Services, Jansen works to assist others in the same way she was helped.
American Indian Services is a nonprofit organization based in Lehi, Utah, which provides scholarships primarily to Native American students across the United States. Jansen, who grew up in Kamas, Utah, is Navajo and is an enrolled member of the Sioux/Assiniboine tribe. The scholarship she received from the program not only provided financial assistance but also inspired her to give back later in her life.
“Their help allowed me to pursue and finish my education,” she says. “The support I received put something in my heart and mind that let me know I needed to go back and serve my community. Knowing that people actually care if somebody receives an education impacted my life and my whole career.”
With the goal to serve her community, Jansen graduated from BYU Marriott’s MPA program in 2005 and started working for the Utah State human resource department in 2006. After working for the department for two years, she chose to become the primary caretaker of their four children. In 2019, Jansen made the decision to return to the workforce and accepted a position at the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake. The opportunity to work as the executive director of American Indian Services—the same organization that had helped her two decades earlier—came up two and a half years later. She jumped at the chance and was hired.
Even with an 11-year gap between jobs, Jansen never felt inadequate when returning back to employment. “I feel good that I came back to work with all my skills still intact after spending so much time away,” Jansen says. “The MPA program taught me how to adapt to different situations and different technologies and to roll with any changes I encounter, and that training paid off.”
Jansen chose to study in the MPA program to prepare for a career of public and nonprofit service. “No matter what I ended up doing, I wanted to serve the general public, including marginalized communities and communities in need,” Jansen says. “Every community needs public service work.”
Her fellow MPA students shared a love for service and helped her grow and flourish. “The people in the program welcomed me and became friends, and we worked together in order to achieve a common goal. No one competed against each other; we all tried to help each other graduate and succeed.”
Knowing the impact education has had on her life, Jansen wants others to find success in their own schooling. She understands that having people in your life who encourage you is key to success. “Finding a support system is essential,” she says. “Find close friends with similar trials or complications. A good support system always helps you and pushes you toward finishing your education.”
The support that Jansen provides to members of her community through American Indian Services changes not only the lives of individuals but the community as a whole. The ripples of an education spread far and wide, and the impact that it can have on families, tribal nations, and communities is undeniable, says Jansen. The organization’s students become leaders in education and government, and their influence helps their communities flourish.
Jansen hopes others, especially her own children, understand the importance of receiving an education. She knows the challenges that come with pursuing educational goals, but she also knows that the example of one person inspires those who come after. “If I can graduate from college, anybody can,” she says. “School was not easy for me. I worked hard. Knowing that one of us can succeed hopefully inspires others to succeed as well.”
For anyone worried about their educational future, Jansen encourages them to never give up. “Keep going toward that goal, even if baby steps are all you’re able to manage,” she concludes. “Just keep going little by little, inch by inch, and you'll go far.”
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Kaelin Hagen