Carlton Underwood PH.D. Photo Courtesy of CWC.

By Jeff Rebitski, Staff Writer

Former student, and current CWC Board of Trustees member, Dr. Carlton Underwood was honored at the 2022 ASPIRE conference held in Jackson on October 17.

Underwood was presented with an Achiever Award from ASPIRE due to his work within the Native Community on the Wind River Reservation. Underwood works for Akiptan Inc, out of Eagle Butte, S.D.

Akiptan (AH-KEEP-TAHN) is a Native American Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that provides loans and technical assistance to those in Native agriculture. Akiptan offers a whole suite of services that include financing youth, start-ups, operating costs, and ownership. It also provides financial literacy training to help create knowledgeable borrowers.

Raised on the Wind River Reservation, Underwood attended Central Wyoming College and found his source of support through the TRiO program that he now advocates for. TRIO is the first set of federal programs to address the serious social, economic, and cultural barriers to higher education in the United States. Today, more than 820,000 students in nearly 3,000 programs at host institutions, both urban and rural, make higher education a reality for students who are often the first members of their families to enroll in and graduate from college.

TRIO services include assistance in choosing and applying to a college, applying for financial aid, tutoring, personal and financial counseling, career counseling, workplace and college visits, and special instruction in reading, writing, study skills, and mathematics.

The 2022 Aspire conference was the perfect setting to recognize Underwood for his efforts and the efforts of the college that embraced him when he decided to break the barriers that keep so many from reaching their goals.

ASPIRE, Inc.’s mission is to “increase the educational and success opportunities for low-income and first-generation college students through advocacy, professional development, and legislative awareness.”

“Being the only one of three boys to graduate from college and promising myself that I would attain my Ph.D, CWC placed me on the right path,” shared Underwood, adding that the school helped give him the desire to attend UW where he received his MA. “Without the support of the TRiO program and other student support organizations at both CWC and The University of Wyoming, I would have struggled to get where I am today.” Underwood sits on the CWC Board of Trustees and continues to help those in need with business and economic development assistance on the Wind River Reservation. He attained his PH.D. in May 2022 from the University of Southern California.

Central Wyoming College joins with ASPIRE to congratulate Underwood for his award and continued inspiration on the Wind River Reservation and the community of and around Fremont County.