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Montana Western honors Distinguished Alumna at commencement

The University of Montana is slated to present this year’s Distinguished Alumni Service Award during the 117th commencement on May 10.

cajunewebThis year, Julie Anne Cajune will receive the award. In 1991, she earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Montana Western. Cajune earned her master’s degree in bilingual education from Montana State University-Billings in 1994. Since then, Cajune has worked in education for over 20 years.

She worked as a curriculum specialist for the Salish Kootenai Tribes for five years before serving as a public school administrator in Ronan, Mont., for six years. During Cajune’s time with the Ronan school district, she was awarded the Milken National Educator Award.

In 2009, Cajune was named one of “50 Visionaries Changing Your World” buy the Utne Reader. That same year, she was awarded a $1.4 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The grant was housed at Salish Kootenai College and funded the documentation of community histories in tribes and across the nation. 

Cajune has worked on culturally responsive educational materials for the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Montana Historical Society and numerous other organizations. She recently completed a three-year project developing tribal history materials funded by the Montana State Legislature. 

During 2012, Cajune co-wrote, produced and performed a one-woman play titled “Belief.” She worked with Emmy-nominated pianist David Lantz, world flutist Gary Stroutsos, violin virtuosos Swil Kanim and world percussionist David Revelli to create original music for the play. “Belief” premiered at the Bigfork Center for Performing Arts and has been performed in numerous venues around Montana, as well as in Hawaii and Spain. 

Now, Cajune lives in Arlee, Mont., and works as an independent educational consultant.

The 117th Montana Western Commencement is 11 a.m. Saturday, May 10, in the Straugh Gymnasium in the Bulldog Athletic and Recreation Center.