What inspired you to make a difference in your campus community:
I am very proud of the Navajo community I come from and was excited to share this with my peers, yet when I started my journey at Duke University the Native student experience solely existed in siloes. There was very little institutional support available to Native students and the unique needs of our community. Immediately I realized that in order for future Native students to succeed at Duke I needed to be vocal about the struggles we face and ensure administration provides the support we need. My goal has always been to leave Duke better than I found it, and being an advocate and leader on campus was my way of contributing to a better future for Native students. My experience at Duke has prepared me for a lifetime of advocacy and community engagement.
You were chosen to be on ProMazo’s list of Most Interesting Students for a reason. Do you have any advice for other students hoping to create their own success:
Understand that the education you are receiving has a greater purpose in your community is the most important advice I can give to young scholars. Never lose sight of the broader implications of your potential. Strive to be a good person regardless of your position and always leave things better than you found them. One of the most powerful tools higher education can give you is the ability to empower those around you.
"both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
I made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed."
- Lucille Clifton.
Biggest role models or inspirations:
My mother. She is the strongest person I know and she shows her strength through her love for youth in our community. As a counselor and social worker she has dedicated herself to ensuring youth in our community feel seen, heard, and are hopeful for their futures. Through any hardship she has faced she has remained faithful and innovative. She is the biggest reason I have been so successful in my endeavors. I am very thankful to have such a strong Navajo woman in my life who inspires me daily. Ayóó anííníshní' shimá!
In 2017, I was living in Peru for a summer and I befriended a young woman in the shelter I was working at. She was pregnant at the time and was excited to have a little girl. After a few weeks she brought home her daughter whom she named Shandiin. I was so honored! In Navajo Shandiin means Sunshine. I love thinking about the fact that there is a beautiful little Peruvian girl with a Navajo name.
Currently, I am participating in the Lead for America Hometown Fellowship working for the Oljato Chapter of the Navajo Nation. After my fellowship, I would like to earn a JD/MPP and continue my work advocating for policy change and protection of traditional values in our local communities across the Navajo Nation.