Native Youth to College Progam and the GenI Challenge

Last Summer (2015), the students of Pitzer/WesternU’s Native Youth to College Program took on the Generation Indigenous Challenge by President Obama and the Center for Native American Youth (CNAY).

The Generation Indigenous Challenge asks Native youth “to work with other youth in their community or at their school to do something positive of their choosing [within 30 days of accepting the challenge].”

Our Result?

Finding Our Way to College. A book by Native Youth for Native Youth.

Finding Our Way to College is a survival guide filled with practical advice, tips, and stories from Native Youth to College students navigating the college application process.

“My goal is to get to college, and I’ve motivated myself to make new connections in the Indian community around the world. I’d like to share my experiences and offer those opportunities to help you apply too! As royalty and a senior, I want to be a role model for others and show them the guidance, motivation, and support.”

“About 1% of American Indians attend my high school and most of them fail classes. We have an American Indian meetings every month and I want to tell them about this program and let them know that it can help them with college experiences and future College applications. However, if they are not interested in this program, I can give them tips about creating their College App. I want everyone to be successful and happy with where they are, especially my people.”

Take some time to flip through the book and read it. Share it with your friends, family, community, and school.

2015 Native Youth to College session students, we are proud of you for working so hard on this, sharing your experiences, telling your story, and being role models for other youth. 

A shout out to Gina Lamb, Pitzer Media Studies Professor, Edwin Gomez, and other Media studies students who worked on getting this ready for us!

#GenI #NativeYouth #TellingYourStory #GenerationIndigenous #Challenge


The Little Things in Life

It was wonderful to be back at Wishtoyo once again. Before the arrival of Europeans, my People (the Mexica) traded and connected with the Chumash People. Each time I step onto Wishtoyo I feel as if once again the threads connecting our Peoples are being mended. The land is so beautiful, and it’s an amazing feeling to know at least this part of the land, the village, is being taken care by its People. As the land does not belong to the People rather the People belong to the land. 

I enjoyed seeing all the students from the program show a different side to themselves that was free, open, and curious. Being at Wishtoyo does something special to you, especially when you are indigenous. For me I feel more connected to the ancestors and nature. I feel as if time has stopped, and I can focus on the small things in life like laughing, loving, and learning. It was incredible to see and hear that each student enjoyed what little time we spent at Wishtoyo. Despite only being at Wishtoyo for about a day and a half, as a group we were able to share songs, dances, and stories under the night sky and by the fire. I was humbled to be able to share a dance from my People’s culture with everyone there. However, I have to admit that one of my favorite things about Wishtoyo are the three German Shepherds which truly help make Wishtoyo feel like a home away from home. Mati, Luhui, and everyone else at Wishtoyo make all who visit feel as if they are apart of a greater family. What a magnificent time at Wishtoyo, I can’t wait for next time.   

UCLA – University of Chilling in Los Angeles

UCLA is an amazing school and I have truly enjoyed my time there thus far. During my first year as a student of UCLA (Univeristy of California, Los Angeles), I was exposed to and participated in a number of activities apart from classes.

 As a student you do not have to leave campus to have a nice break from classes. For starters, UCLA is the leading arts and cultural center in the western United States, hosting more than 1,000 visual and performing arts events each year and attracting more than 500,000 patrons. For example, I attended a workshop on Nahuatl (the language of the Aztecs and my mother tongue). Further, the campus is so beautiful and filled with wonderful eateries, cool libraries, and amazing places to chill. One of my favorite places to eat is il Tramezzino which has the nicest staff and the best soups and panini. Near this cafe is one of my favorite locations on campus called the sculpture garden (it’s has magnificent pieces of art, shade, and free wifi!).

 (Sculpture garden @ UCLA)

Before attending UCLA I had not attended many sports games, but as a UCLA student I have access to free and/or very reduced priced tickets to all home games. Impressively, UCLA has won 112 NCAA team championships, more than any other NCAA division 1 university. Each game I attended was so much fun. I really felt connected with my fellow Bruins (aka UCLA students).


 One of the greatest things about UCLA is how important public services is for the university and the students. Through the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (a Chicano student organization), I helped organize the annual Raza Youth Confrence which hosts informational workshops and activities about culture, politics, higher education, health, and financial aid for minority students. I met so many amazing fellow brown Bruins and high school students from various parts of the U.S.

Another of my favorite things about UCLA is its location. The community closest to it is Westwood which has various amazingly delicious eateries (my favorite are Diddy Riese and Yamato sushi). Also, there are always movie premieres at the Movie Theatre.

  Furthermore, UCLA is located in one of the most diverse cities in the U.S., Los Angeles! Students can easily go to the beach, Downtown, Pasadena, Hollywood, East Los Angeles, and Echo Park. As students we get a discount off the already cheap costing buses.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles so I had the luxury to spend my free time at home with family and friends. I often volunteer at the charter school my parents founded called Semmilas Community Schools (Xinaxcalmecac and Anahuacalmecac). I love giving back to my community and working with underprivileged youth, most of who are indigenous and of Latin American descent. I enjoy being in a place where youth feel empowered about who they are and where they learn about who they and there People are (like at Semillas Community Schools).

I love giving back to others. Being a part of the Native Summer Pipeline to College as a mentor has been so wonderful thus far. I can’t wait to see the amazing things these students will do.

– Miahuatl Kuauhtzin

Eighth Day for Maya

If you’re wondering about some of Pitzer’s recreational activities, wonder no further. If you can’t do it by yourself, do it with a ball.

When you love your chemistry teacher more than words can say, there’s only one way to tell the world.

And of course, if you aren’t completely ignorant, you’ll know that when bees go down we’re going down with them. Hence the beekeeping club.

Seventh Day for Maya

can not get over what an amazing day I had with Kim Marcus. It was legitimately my best day at pipeline yet and I was so excited and fascinated with the native cooking that I wrote down every step we did. Even the approximate amounts we added of ingredients. I cut the prickly pears, cracked the acorns, made half of the mesquite pudding, and made and poured the sycamore bark tea. I worked along side Mr. Marcus’s wife Barbara for a while, and she was super kind. Almost everyone found the tea and pudding gross and too bitter to eat, but I loved it. I couldn’t get enough to the tea, and next to the black coffee I had for breakfast it was nothing. I’m bringing the recipes home to you mom! 

I look so shiny 

Then we did a mini-ceremony before we went into painting the rocks with traditional patterns and markings. The white paint was made out of egg whites and zinc, and the black paint was made of egg whites and iron oxide. I was actually really happy with my outcome- they looked great! Then Ninaya and I had the most delicious quesadillas with cheese and veggies. I was sad to see Mr. Marcus go. I liked him a lot and tried to help him as much as possible. 

Then. We went to the MAAALLLLL. Mika dressed me up like the mannequin at Winsdor and I loved it. I bought the black, torn high waisted shorts but I didn’t get the tight plaid crop top. I ain’t about to get killed by my momma. Then we went to Zumie’s and I got a cute maroon and black tee. Watch me look bomb tomorrow.

After blogging, we’re gonna go watch a movie. And eat cupcakes! Happy Birthday Alyssa! Sweet 16 my girl. 

Sixth Day for Maya

Being away from home is different, and the main thing I miss is the flexibility of designing my day. It’s difficult to feel sick or exhausted and not be able to rest when you want, and also I’ve thought of something I want to paint but I have no canvas. The greatest thing is being able to have friends you can hang out with a lot and joke around with. I don’t have to worry about being bored like I usually am in the summer, and I have funny friends and great cultural experiences.

Today we had pancakes for breakfast which was my favorite, and then went to theater. Rose assigned us my favorite activity so far- playing with our names. Maya Winnick. If my name was a sound, it’d be raindrops, or horseshoes click-clacking on concrete, or high heels on wood floors. If it was an object it would be pebbles or a potted cactus. Perhaps tap shoes that have been sitting in a closet for years. If it was a taste it would be peppery.

I typed my essay today in Common Apps. It’s my favorite class, and Shelva is very kind and helpful. I can’t get over the fact that on my first day I was dreading it and now I give 100% effort. I’d like to go to Pitzer or Scripps but they’re extremely selective. If I could take one road trip with my dad it would be to check out Lewis & Clark’s campus, and spend some time in Oregon. The weather is optimal too. (hinthint).

We took a trip up to Mt. Baldy today, too. It was really nice out there. I love getting some fresh air and moving my legs, but after the bird dance, my calves were killing me! And of course I got to spend time with my BOMB bff Miahuatl so any day with that hilarious girl is the best.

Mentor goals.

Cinco de Maya

Today was a lot of fun, like always. I got to hold Courage (Rose’s bird) again, and we did many fun activities with rhythm. I love making my friends come up with me to the frontof the class.


To be honest, apart from my museum video, making breakfast was my favorite part of the day. We made potatoes, eggs with soy chorizo, toast, and chilaquiles with cotija cheese on the side. It was spicy and delicious. It was the first time I was super full from breakfast. Miahuatl is the bomb.

We had the best dinner of the whole program this evening! There was actually tons of food for vegetarians today (aka Ninaya and I). We had vegetarian lasagna, zucchini with red sauce, garlic bread, and cobbler-ish stuff for dessert. Today was a GOOD food day.


Native Culture and college education can 100% go together, as it is so obviously seen in the Pipeline. It just takes the respect of our cultures and teachers that know the ways. To go together, there must be a balance of Western and Native learning.

Today we went to the Pomona College Museum of Native Artifacts. The works were amazingly beautiful, but we all had a realization that was kind of- upsetting. Everyone who worked there was white, and the woman admitted to us that she knew very little at all about the pieces. That was, until our elder Joe came in. He immediately explained the significance of so many of the artifacts, and the cultures they were from. The works were hundreds or thousands of years old, and they were sitting in drawers in a basement that few people visit. There was one piece that stood out to me a bit more than all the others; a piece from as far back as 3000 BCE. She told us she knew nothing about it but that it was an adornment which had been taken from a burial ground.


When you bury your dead, your elders…. you are doing it so to lay their physical body for rest. In many cultures, it is a very sacred practice to bury the dead with adornments or their belongings for their trip back to the afterlife, to heaven, to the Creator. Joe is so wise. He said to us, “I often wonder how white people would feel if I dug up their dead and kept their belongings in my basement.” My mentor Miahuatl kind of laughed and said, “It’s funny how these things are ours and we’re not even allowed to touch it.”

Frankly, Joe didn’t care whether or not we weren’t supposed to touch it.



They need to go back to their homes.

Maya’s Third Day

One of the main struggles many Native Americans and people in general have when it comes to college is money. When people barely have enough money to cover living expenses, it’s near impossible to pay college tuition. Many people also have to deal with the worries of grades due to the fact that they find school difficult or have no-one to help them. But one of the most prominent situation in the Native community is the drug and alcohol abuse. The money spent on drugs stops the money from going to college tuition; the time spent drinking takes away from homework time. Because of lack of money, worries of grades, alcoholism and drug abuse, it makes it difficult for Native youth to attend college.

Today was my third day at Pipeline. I don’t feel homesick, and I’m having a much better time than I expected. I was more tired this morning, but theater class with Rose was fun as always. To be honest, I was initially dreading Common Apps; preparing for college apps sounded boring and stressful. But Shelva is really easy to work with and introduced me to a BUNCH of helpful sites for college searching and entering the world of common apps. her handouts were amazing too. When I do work with her I feel like it’s actually worth my time and I’m really taking the steps for my future. We then heard many inspirational stories from both Rose Henry and her guest speaker tonight, and i heard Kat and Dani sing! I wish I could sing like that. Beautiful. Also, We had VEGETARIAN OPTIONS for dinner!!!! I’m going to bed full tonight.