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Joseph E. Locklear, a sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, has been awarded the Udall scholarship to help him pursue a career in native health care, addressing the problem of addictive behaviors among tribal populations.

The Udall Foundation in Tucson, Arizona, named for Morris Udall and Stewart Udall to honor their positive impact on this nation’s environment, public lands, and natural resources, and their support of the rights and self-governance of American Indians and Alaska Natives, bestows the Udall Scholarship on students committed to careers in the environment or, for American Indian and Alaskan native applicants, students pursuing health care or tribal public policy. Scholars must demonstrate leadership potential and academic achievement.

Locklear is UNC-Chapel Hill’s first American Indian Udall scholar, and he is one of 50 Udall scholars nationwide for 2015. The recipients were chosen recently from among 464 candidates nominated by 222 colleges and universities. Locklear brings the number of Udall Scholarships awarded to Carolina students to 15 since their establishment in 1996. The award will cover tuition, books, room and board up to $5,000 for Locklear’s junior year.

Locklear, from Rowland, aspires to earn an M.D./Ph.D. and become a research physician, relying on his background and education to help build better doctor-patient relationships within Native American communities. Strong connections are essential to adequately address addictive behaviors and preventable diseases.

As a member of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Minority Student Recruitment Committee, Locklear has already found success reaching out to others. He has served on multiple recruitment panels for prospective students and their parents where he shares personal stories of promoting diversity and inclusion across campus.

Locklear’s successful efforts to help restore UNC-Chapel Hill’s chapter of Phi Sigma Nu, the largest Native American fraternity in the United States, further demonstrates his commitment to community-building and support of native peoples. As current treasurer for the Carolina Indian Circle, he coordinated fundraising efforts for the 28th annual powwow in March.

His overlapping interests in research science and health care led Locklear to UNC-Chapel Hill’s Science Enrichment Program last summer, where he discovered through clinical shadowing the need for greater representation of Native American professionals in the health care field.

“I am very fortunate to have been granted this honor,” Locklear says. “It feels great to know I am one step closer to reaching my goal of working in health care within Native American populations. I aspire to live up to the ideals of the Udall scholarship and have a positive influence on my community.”

The son of Tina Locklear of Rowland and Johnny Locklear of Raeford, Locklear was invited into Honors Carolina as an incoming first-year student in the fall of 2013. In addition, he was awarded the Gates Millennium Scholarship, which provides financial support to outstanding minority students.

Marco Barker, Senior Director for Education, Operations, and Initiatives and Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Education, states that the, “selection of Joseph Locklear as a Udall Scholar speaks volumes to how American Indian students at Carolina are committed to not only leaving their heel print but to also giving back to their native communities on campus and beyond. This scholarship affirms Locklear’s passion, vision, and life’s mission of impacting health disparities among Native Americans and his dedication to scholarship, leadership, and diversity.”

Published April 17, 2015.