Interdisciplinary studies graduate from Hopi Nation finds passion to serve Native youth
Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.
Nu áaqawsi yan matsiwa,
Nu kyashwungwa pu pew katsinwungwa.
Nu Oraivit ank’Ö.
Daniell June Albert is from the Hopi Tribe in Northern Arizona. Her Hopi name is áaqawsi, which translates to Sunflower, and she is Parrot and Kachina clans from the village of Old Oraibi, Third Mesa.
Albert is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in interdisciplinary studies, with concentrations in special events management and in communication. She chose these concentrations to support her determination to make an impact with youth in Indian Country about opportunities and resources related to education.
“I found a passion in helping Native students, in bringing the resources to them and educating youth about what the 'outside’ world looks like, including the opportunities that are out there for them.
“Ideally, after graduating I would love to move back to the Flagstaff area, to work with my hometown’s American Indian youth population, providing optimized content and events that bring outside resources and/or local references that are useful in maintaining and recruiting an impactful youth networking system," Albert said.
She has special interest in developing events and programming focused on high school completion, knowledge of the many pathways to higher education and opening opportunities that can help students “balance the two worlds of cultural and modern relations.”
Albert has found that through her dedication to interdisciplinary studies, she has also been able to connect with others who want to learn more about her culture, and the cultures around them. For Albert, the best part of her major is how it allows her to express herself: “My favorite part is the creative aspect, because I get to share stories through my artwork and make connections to my culture.”
After graduation she will continue to make connections to other cultures, as she will be going to Beijing for a summer internship with the public relations and marketing company Pingo Space.
“They give a mobile platform to Chinese clients who are wanting to gain new knowledge of different cultures, perspectives and experiences from around the world without leaving their homes," Albert explained. “The company’s name originates from the Chinese Píng xíng guó, meaning parallel worlds. I hope to share my own culture, perspective and experiences with the company and create events that can highlight the focus of the company.”
She recently shared reflections with ASU Now about some of her college experiences and dreams for the future.
Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?
Answer: One thing that I have learned while at ASU was the acceptance in leaving my comfort zones and moving away from my village but gaining the confidence in sharing who I am as a person as well as the heritage and culture that I carry with me from within. Growing up, I felt myself pushing aside who I am from the cultural point of view, but once I was at ASU — which stands on the home land of the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and Pee Posh (Maricopa) peoples — I felt the need to step back and realize that I am among the 2% of Native Americans at the university and I need to be one who makes an impact for all tribes and indigenous people.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: I chose ASU because they showed a real commitment to all, but not limited to, the 22 tribal nations in Arizona. They embrace the respective lands that the university resides on, as well as making connections to the tribal communities and committing to the success of American Indian students. The university works to cross disciplines, integrate indigenous knowledge and engage the ASU community in welcoming the cultures that are developing on and off the campus.
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?
A: The one who taught me the most important lesson while at ASU is not a professor but a student herself, working toward a PhD (who) serves as director of the Office of American Indian Initiatives. Annabell Bowen focuses on the recruitment and retention of American Indian students and reaches out to tribes far and near. She taught me the true meaning of being indigenous and brought to my attention the lack of resources that are out there for many Native students in the schools. She told me during a program we were doing together that, “as long you impact one student, you are changing their mindset to plant the seeds of the future.”
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: The best advice I’d give to those still in school is to not forget where you come from and the stories you carry with you, because that’s what make you stand out from the rest of the world, especially as a Native student. You can impact the reservation by allowing yourself to pick up every open opportunity and embracing your culture; we can balance the two worlds.
Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?
A: My favorite spot on campus was the Office of American Indian Initiatives, located in Discovery Hall. It is the hub for all American Indian students and it is a great place to find new friends and cultures just like your own. It has become a home away from home. I would like to thank the staff, faculty and endless friends who have made the place a special place to be.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: I would help the education system and schools under the Bureau of Indian Education, to guide the work in rebuilding the academic structure and hazardous buildings, to bring them back up to or above standards. The majority of schools under the BIE are held to a low standard. Students then lack the proper education and life skills to make an impact within the modern world.
Written by Sophia Molinar, ASU Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication senior; student marketing assistant, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts