September 18, 2017

Morgan Gray ’16 ’18 has a mission in life: to advocate for the Chickasaw Nation on a federal level. Gray was born in Stillwater, Oklahoma, but spent most of her childhood and formative years in San Antonio. Although she grew up away from the Chickasaw Nation headquarters, her mother ensured that her family environment incorporated as many aspects of Chickasaw culture as possible.

Through a graduate fellowship endowed by Elizabeth and Drayton McLane, Morgan Gray can focus on her studies at the Bush School of Government and Public Service. She hopes to use her passion for service and public policy to better advocate for the Chickasaw Nation in our nation's capital.

“Storytelling is an important aspect of Chickasaw culture,” said Gray, “and my Chickasaw family members passed on traditional stories to me and my brother at a young age. As I’ve grown older, I’ve tried to learn the Chickasaw language and attend cultural events in South Texas.”

Gray’s family also placed a high value on public service. Both of her parents have dedicated their lives to supporting people with autism. “They are extremely passionate about what they do,” she said. “My passion for serving individuals who don’t have a voice, or those who don’t know how to use their voice, comes from my parents.”

Gray was drawn to Texas A&M University because of the passion that students have for the Aggie community, the unique traditions and the overwhelming presence of friendly faces on campus. As an undergraduate, she interned for Sen. Dianne Feinstein in Washington D.C. and was introduced to the legislative process.

“I worked on issues related to Indian Affairs by attending congressional hearings,” said Gray. “During the hearings, I witnessed tribal leaders provide testimony to senators regarding major issues that occur within tribal communities. I was so inspired by the tribal leaders who worked to advocate for their people that I realized I wanted to devote my professional career to improving the quality of life of tribal citizens.”

In 2016, she graduated Summa Cum Laude with her bachelor’s degree in political science and set her sights on pursuing a master’s education at the Bush School of Government and Public Service. Fortunately, she received a graduate fellowship endowed by Elizabeth and Drayton McLane through the Texas A&M Foundation to help cover her tuition. With her financial situation secure, she can focus fully on attaining her public administration degree and learning more about formulating policies capable of improving citizens’ quality of life.

“I don’t think anybody at the Bush School goes into public service for the money,” said Gray. “They go into it because they’re passionate about improving the interests of others and because they truly believe that public service is a noble calling.”

After she graduates in May 2018, Gray plans to lobby for the interests of the Chickasaw Nation in Washington D.C. She hopes to join existing efforts to further enhance opportunities within the Chickasaw Nation and work with other tribes to help establish policies and practices associated with self-determination.

“In many ways, my culture gives me strength to push forward through the challenges and obstacles I face both in my educational and professional career,” said Gray. “The Chickasaw Nation’s motto is ‘the unconquered and unconquerable,’ and these words remind me of the strength within me that has been passed down through many generations of Chickasaws.”