The Ford Family Foundation recently awarded its prestigious scholarship to two outstanding seniors from Madras High School (MHS). Congratulations to both Kahmussa Green and David Diaz! Both students have demonstrated exceptional resilience, dedication, and leadership, paving the way for their bright futures.

Kahmussa Green

Kahmussa Green’s path to the Ford Family Foundation scholarship began with a simple conversation with her mother who informed her what the scholarship could do. The scholarship covers 90% of unmet financial needs to attend college in Oregon.

“It has always just been me and her, and we’ve always dealt with the problem of how we were going to afford and fund college,” Green shared.

Inspired by this, Green worked throughout her academic career to put herself on the best track possible to earn scholarships. The application process was extensive, requiring applicants to detail their activities, involvement, and personal stories. Green’s commitment to excellence was evident through her achievements; she is a member of the National Honor Society at MHS and served as the Warm Springs Youth Tribal Council Female President to name just a couple.

On the night she found out, Green was ready for bed when she got a text from David Diaz, another MHS student who earned the scholarship.

“He asked if I had looked at my email recently,” she recalled. “I looked at it, I wasn’t exactly awake, I was tired but I looked at it and I fully read it until I sat up and read it again,” she said. “I immediately got up, ran to the living room where my mom was and I didn’t even say anything. I handed her the phone and then my mom was beyond happy and grateful that I won the scholarship because that just changes so much for me and her. It’s a life changing experience for me and her.” 

Green plans to attend Southwestern Oregon Community College, where she will focus on her basics and continue her running career. At MHS, she has ran for both the cross country and track teams.

The journey to run in college has not been an easy one for Green. Growing up, she suffered from severe back pain and was diagnosed with scoliosis. She has been in physical therapy throughout her life.

“That made me feel stronger and able to do sports,” she said. “I want to help more. I want to be a physical therapist to come back and help my people who are in pain and hurt.”

Aside from running and her studies, Green is actively involved in the community at Warm Springs. She has donated her time to help her family with traditional Native American ceremonies by helping them out wherever it is needed.

“I think it’s just coming from being a helpful person and willing to do anything I’m being asked to,” she said.

That commitment to helping out her family and her community has landed here exactly where she is today. She is set to graduate from Madras High on June 8. Green has accomplished a lot in her time as a student but knows she couldn’t be here today without the help of some individuals.

“I would mostly thank my mom. She guided me to be the person I am today,” she said. “I would also like to thank Ms. [Sam] Loza for always supporting me and always giving me the big news when I needed it.  I would also like to thank my community and tribe who always have my back and one of the biggest supporters I’ve ever had. This makes me feel a lot better because it’s proven that Native Americans can do it. We’ve always been pushed aside and looked at as people who can’t achieve goals like this.

David Diaz

Diaz’s Ford Foundation scholarship journey began with encouragement from MHS Future Center Coordinator, Sam Loza, and a past scholarship recipient and a good friend of his, Yael Carlon.

He decided to apply because he knew that if he earned it, it would help him pay for college immensely.

The moment Diaz found out about his scholarship was surreal.

“I fell asleep on the couch and woke up so I checked my phone. It was around 8 or 9pm and I’m going through my emails and I saw an email from the Ford Foundation and it just said ‘congratulations.’ I was just surprised, like I asked myself “is this true, am I dreaming?” he remembered. “I texted Kahmussa to see if she got it and I guess I was the first one to know but she told me that she got it.”

Out of his excitement, Diaz told his sister, who instantly congratulated him for earning this scholarship. His mom though, she would have to wait another day.

“I didn’t tell my mom at the time because she was sleeping, I didn’t want to wake her up.”

Once he did tell his mom, she congratulated him and was happy for him. He plans on attending George Fox University to study Mechanical Engineering. He also plans on going out for the soccer team once he’s in college.

Diaz’s high school career was marked by his leadership on the soccer field. Some of the things he is proudest about during his time in high school is that as team captain, he was part of a team that lead MHS to back-to-back league titles and the team made history by playing the first homecoming soccer game for MHS. His hard work and dedication to the team earned him first-team all-league honors in his senior year.

Soccer is a big part of Diaz’s life. When not playing himself, he gives back to his community by helping out Jefferson County Youth Soccer Association. This is a volunteer-based rec program for young soccer players ages four years old through 8th grade.

In addition to helping out youth soccer, another part of his life he highlighted in his scholarship application was in a response to the question, ‘What is your greatest attribute?’ David’s response was being bilingual.

“I communicate a lot in Spanish in English because I’ll have to like communicate or translate for my parents and other family,” he said. “Whenever they didn’t have a translator, I would always be there and help out.”

Earning the scholarship has alleviated the financial stress of college, allowing him to focus fully on his studies and college experience while attending George Fox. Another reason why he feels he earned the scholarship was due to his friendship with Carlon, a 2023 Ford Foundation Scholarship recipient himself. Carlon helped him throughout the process.

“Without him, I feel like I probably would not have earned this,” Diaz said.

In addition to Carlon, Diaz also wants to recognize Oregon State University Extension Juntos Coordinator David Gutierrez, Loza, MHS Graduation Coach Miriam Egoavil, MHS Key Club Coordinator Kim Schmith, and his family for their help and support.

Both Green and Diaz exemplify the spirit of resilience and community service. Their advice for students is simple,

“Help people in need, put yourself out there, and don’t let people get in your head,” Diaz said.

“Don’t stop what you want to do and keep working towards your achievements. It doesn’t have to be huge, but even the little things you do still matter. I wouldn’t doubt yourself one second,” Green said.

Both students are set to graduate from Madras High School on June 8. The ceremony will start at 10am at the MHS stadium.


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