UNITY is pleased to announce Blaine Burnette, White Mountain Apache, as the Mel Pervais Scholarship winner. Burnette, a $1000 Spring Scholarship Recipient, is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics (Statistics) and Economics at Arizona State University. The scholarship is named in honor of Mel Pervais, Ojibwe, a special supporter and long-time friend of UNITY. Pervais, a retired entrepreneur and engineer, is a former UNITY Trustee.
In his essay, Burnette, who started selling lemonade as a child to earn extra money, says he appreciates street vendors on his reservation who he hopes to help someday. “This gave me an idea. These vendors are small business owners but they lack what small business owners all over the country have access to, capital. Capital to start their own business, and capital needed to expand or make the jump from the public square to a brick and mortar store. This is where my idea comes in and it is twofold. The first is the formation of a venture capital fund to infuse much-needed capital to these reservation businesses and the next is, an advocacy group to provide information to tribal members on how they can start a business, access more lines of credit, and build their own credit. Also to inform tribal leadership of the benefits of a healthy business environment and policies that will cultivate business owned by individual tribal members,” Burnette said.
Burnette served as a Senator in the Undergraduate Student Government at ASU representing the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He’s a member of the ASU Mathematics club, ASU Economics Club, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society and the ASU Barrett College Indigenous Cultural Association and is Executive Board for the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples. Accomplishments include earning a Bronze Medal in the Ira A Fulton Engineering Bowl, where he competed against other students in answering math, physics and engineering questions. The ASU Undergraduate Student Government named Burnette the Senator of the Month after he pushed for and helped pass the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples bill on all ASU campuses.