A Home Away From Home: Native American Student Affairs

22 Jan

I’m not from Tucson, nor had I visited it more than once or twice. Plus the majority of my friends from high school did not end up coming to the U of A. But luckily I took part in a transitional summer program that the university offers called New Start. Though I did do a great deal of bonding with fellow freshmen, I lost contact with almost every friend I made there within less than two years. Our free time between classes rarely synced up and we eventually became devoted to our own lives that we were creating in college.

By the end of my Sophomore fall semester, I became very very lonely.

After class, I would grab food from the Union then I went straight back to my dorm with minimal human interaction. I was a very shy person, so it was just easier that way. Rather than putting myself out there by attending any type of social gathering, I chose to lay in bed doing homework or watching Netflix. It was relaxing at first but then it started to get  very old. But just when I was at my lowest, I decided to visit one of the cultural centers here on campus.

I met a friend in New Start named Shawn, we were both a part of the same Native tribe and connected quickly because of it. He told me about Native American Student Affairs, a cultural center located on the second floor in the Nugent building. It wasn’t until that point in my life when I finally decided to visit NASA and I can say with complete and utter honesty, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. The Native American Student Affairs changed my life.

NASA has a bit of a lounge area, where students can do homework, eat their food, relax, and attend social events held by the Indigicat Student Association. And within my very first 5 minutes at a table, another student asked me what my name was then introduced himself to me. It may sound a bit strange but that in itself was actually quite amazing to me. I never felt so genuinely welcomed so quick! This was more than enough to make me want to visit NASA on a regular basis. And each time I did, people were introducing themselves to me left and right. I fell in love with making friends again.

Meeting fellow Native students was very comforting to me. I lost my connection to the Navajo Nation when my father passed away 6 years ago, and struggled to get it back ever since. But the Native American Student Affairs did just that for me; helped me find my way back to that other half of me.

I made some incredible friends along the way who make me consider myself very blessed. My friend Trevor was one of the first people who ‘took me in’ and told me about the ins and outs of NASA while also introducing me to many other people. One in fact, named Soukey, later became my first off-campus roommate. And then there’s my friend Kyle, who like the majority of the people at NASA, is very kind and caring. Steven Martin, the director of NASA, is an awesome mentor and even helped me find a job! This is exactly what this cultural center has to offer; a family and a home away from home.

And if you look well enough, you’ll find your home away from home too 🙂

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(Photo credit: Indigicat Student Association)

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