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White House Honor Goes to UCR Alumna

President Obama Honors UCR Alumna Thursday, Jan. 27

Marigold Linton receives the honor for her work mentoring students from diverse backgrounds

(January 27, 2011)

Marigold LintonEnlarge

Marigold Linton

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( -- Marigold Linton of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians -- who In 1958 graduated from UC Riverside -- will receive an award from President Barack Obama for her lifelong work in mentoring American Indian and other minority students.

In a White House ceremony on Thursday (Jan. 27), the president is set to honor four organizations and 11 people, including Linton, with the annual Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring. The annual presidential award, administered through the National Science Foundation, includes $10,000 to advance the recipients’ work.

The mentors help ready the nation’s next generation of scientists while ensuring that they reflect the country’s diversity, the White House said when announcing the national award recipients on Friday. “These individuals and organizations have gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that the United States remains on the cutting edge of science and engineering for years to come.”

After graduating from UCR, Linton earned a Ph.D. from UCLA. By age 35 she was a psychology professor at San Diego State University. She later was a University of Utah professor.

A pioneer in the American Indian education movement, she has dedicated her life to mentoring American Indians and other minorities as they earned advanced degrees and played leadership roles in the nation’s workforce. Linton credits a Banning school teacher for helping her choose a path to education and a better life, and UCR for helping to inspire her lifelong work to help others succeed.

She co-founded the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), and in 2004, President Bush gave the presidential award for mentoring excellence to that organization. UCR sponsored the most recent SACNAS conference encouraging scientific achievements among minorities. In her keynote address, Linton told the story of how one teacher can change a life.

Linton, a Cahuilla and Cupeño Indian, grew up in poverty on Morongo Indian Reservation. In the 1950s, Morongo had no electricity and no inside plumbing. Outside the reservation, racism against Indians prevailed. She recalled how her Banning Elementary School teacher, Mrs. Adams, became the only teacher anyone knew who came to the nearby reservation, to visit young Marigold’s mother.
“She told my mother I was very bright and that she should make sure I went to college," Linton said. "It made a huge impression on me. That day I started saving my money. Of every cent I earned and obtained over the next years, half of it went into my savings account."

Over the next four years she collected a little more than $1,000. Linton said she had never thought of going to college before that visit. "I freely confess I had no idea what college was. But this nice, very important lady took the trouble to talk with my mother about college and thought that it was important that I go.”

In 1954 at UCR, Linton recalls being overwhelmed by the world outside the reservation. She studied 18 hours a day, spurred by her fear of failing. The long hours continued even after she earned top grades. “Not too surprisingly, I got extremely well-educated,” Linton recalled recently. “There’s probably no day of my life that I don’t use skills or knowledge I acquired at UC Riverside.”

Linton’s life work in mentoring and improving the lives of American Indians and other minorities includes:
• Co-founding and continuing leadership in SACNAS; co-founding and becoming a charter member of the National Indian Education Association.
• Work from 1986-98 at Arizona State University to improve science and mathematics education among 20 Arizona tribes.
• Work since 1998 for University of Kansas, where she has obtained more than $15 million in research training support for collaboration between the university and Haskell Indian Nations University.
Candidates for the presidential mentoring awards in excellence are nominated by colleagues, leaders, and students. Linton said in a statement released by University of Kansas that she saw the award as recognition for all working in the Kansas-Haskell partnership. “This is the most recent confirmation that what we are doing here is seen as having great national significance as a national model.”

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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