Laura Anderson has personal and professional connections to American Indian life. As a UB faculty member, she strives to promote higher education for disadvantaged students across domains. That’s one reason she’s passionate about supporting the American Indian College Fund, a non-profit organization providing American Indians with student scholarships and programs to support academic readiness and student success.
Anderson, an assistant professor and licensed psychologist at the UB School of Nursing, grew up in Salamanca, New York on the Allegany Seneca Reservation and knows first-hand of the struggles and lack of opportunity Native Americans have historically faced.
“Much trauma happens in these towns, both seen and unseen,” she says. “Higher education in my life and experience opened the door to healing and opportunity.”
Anderson says education is the key to a brighter future, yet only about 13 percent of Native Americans have a college degree, according to the American Indian College Fund, while more than 28 percent of American Indians live below the poverty line.
“Nearly 1 in 10 students from my 1995 high school class have died from lifestyle, mental health, or drug-related deaths. People do not realize this, and it is unacceptable. Higher education opens doors to skills, opportunities, and people who change lives. I wish more of my classmates had known about resources like the American Indian College Fund.”
Anderson has been an enthusiastic supporter of the agency since before she became a faculty member. Today, in addition to her annual gift, she mentors and does what she can in her lab to help students in need. In fact, her research team is made up almost entirely of first generation and minority undergraduate students.
“I know the difference education makes,” she says. “Helping students get here, curbing their expenses, and supporting them emotionally is critical.”
It’s why she’s grateful for the chance to share her story as part of the Campaign for the Community. “I know how agencies like the American Indian College Fund can help improve and potentially save lives,” she says.