Native Village 
Youth and Education News

November, 2012

Shinnecock Member Is First Woman to Graduate from England’s Oxford University
Condensed by Native Village

Kelsey Leonard is a member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation in New York. On September 22, she became the first Native American woman to graduate from England’s Oxford University. Kelsey earned a master’s degree in water science, policy and management from St Cross College, one of Oxford’s 38 colleges.

“It’s a great starting point for Indigenous Peoples to attend the top universities in the world and to continue to push the envelope of what we see for ourselves and our communities, and where we hope our academic endeavors lead us to,” Kelsey said.

Before going to Oxford, the 24-year-old was the first Shinnecock member to graduate from Harvard University. At Harvard, she belonged to various Native organizations including the
All Ivy Native Council and the Harvard University Native American Program. She was also a youth leader with the United American Indians of Delaware Valley in Philadelphia, and was the executive co-president of UNITY, a national Native youth organization.

Leonard is now an independent consultant in western Pennsylvania.  Her focus is environmental policy and water resource management projects.

Kelsey's master's dissertation was “Water Quality For Native Nations: Achieving A Trust Responsibility." It examines water quality regulation and the decision-making processes over water resources in the U.S. She also investigated how much of this natural resource is not protected, namely water on tribal lands.


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