Meet our 2019-2020 scholars:
My name is Jacob Billy and I am an enrolled member of the Yakama Indian Nation. I received my bachelor’s degree from Heritage University and I’m currently pursuing the M.Ed. plus Certification in Secondary Education. I was raised in Toppenish, Washington and recently moved to Western Oregon. The Sapsik’ʷałá philosophy aligns closely with my beliefs and I want to use the tools of the program to provide leadership to current and upcoming generations. My cultural activities involve hunting, crafting regalia, fishing, serving the community with the Yakama Warriors, traditional dancing, and drumming at the Longhouses of my region. It is my goal to model education, wellness, and sobriety for my family.
“The passing of knowledge from one generation to another is the means by which we have survived as a people. Teaching is, at its heart, an act of generosity.” – Linda LeGarde Grover (Boise Forte Band of Ojibwe). Boozhoo, Nicole nindizhinikaaz. Gaa-waabaabiganikaag nindoonjibaa. Maang nindoodem. Hello, my name is Nicole. I am from the White Earth Reservation (Band of Ojibwe) and I am from the loon clan.I enjoy and love being a part of a program of prospective Indigenous educators who are working toward the common goal of being the representation that is so often missing in classrooms across the country. One of the most important things that I advocate for, as an Indigenous educator, is the need for representation for Indigenous students. As a prospective teacher, I have a strong desire to teach and work with Native students and to give back to my community after I graduate. I believe that the issue of invisibility and cultural erasure becomes less prevalent when Indigenous students see themselves reflected in the curriculum and have teachers who understand them and their lived experiences. My background includes working with Indigenous youth in different capacities. In the past, I had worked for an Indigenous-lead nonprofit, Division of Indian Work, where I worked with youth in a reading program called Agindaasodaa (“Let’s Read,” in Anishinaabemowin). I also worked in a literacy-based program called American Indian Freedom School and worked with Native youth in classrooms at Anishinaabe Academy. I have an undergraduate degree in Liberal Arts, with a focus in Environmental Studies and Cultural Diversity.
My name is Cecelia Koskela, I grew up in Humboldt County in Northern California. I come from a large family and was raised by strong females. I am enrolled Wailaki in the Round Valley Indian tribes. I am also of Quinault and Chinook descent. I have lived on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Western Montana for the past 10 years, this reservation is home to the Salish, Kootenai, and Pend O’reile peoples. This is where I attended Salish Kootenai College, a local tribal college. I received an Associates of Science in Mathematical Sciences, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Math Education. I think it is important to increase representation of indigenous people into our schools. Native youth need more role models in academic settings. I look forward to supporting the advancement of Native youth in math and science. I want to share my passion for these fields with them. I value the opportunity teachers have in building relationships and bonding with their students. I think these bonds can help change a student’s life. I believe it is important to help student become strong critical thinkers and problem solvers, while also fostering teamwork, compassion, and respect in my classroom.
I was raised in Portland Oregon, and I graduated from Portland State University in 2018.I love being a part of the Sapsik’ʷałá Program as it has been wonderful being surrounded by native students and administrators. I want to be a teacher as I enjoy working with children. Having the opportunity to make a difference in so many people’s lives is exciting. It is especially exciting knowing that I will get to do so in an indigenous setting.
I grew up in Eugene, Oregon and am a member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians. I received little exposure to Indigenous education in my upbringing which led me to pursue my Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education Studies from the University of Oregon. My tribe is very supportive of my education, but I have limited cultural knowledge and connection to my ancestry. My lack of knowledge led me to Sapsik’ʷałá because Indigenous education is extremely important; our current education system has demolished many learning opportunities for Native people, myself included. This program has provided me resources and the opportunity to learn about Indigenous pedagogies and teaching practices from several tribes and Native scholars. Even with my lack of cultural knowledge, I reflect on my education and realize it was the best part of my childhood. I have been called “mother hen” numerous times throughout my life due to my constant desire to care for those around me, especially when it comes to children. It is because of these two things I feel I’m destined to teach upcoming generations. Both my endless love and compassion for those around me and the value I place on education, suit the major characteristics needed in a good educator. I have three major teaching values: 1) You can learn something new every day; 2) You decide what is valuable enough to remember; and 3) Every individual’s education is equally valuable.
With a passion for learning and working with children, Olivia obtained a Bachelors of Arts in Educational Foundations and a Minor in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon in 2019. Her educational background in multicultural education, social justice orientated learning, and environmental justice influenced her decision in pursuing a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Teaching through the UOTeach and the Sapsik’wała programs. Her place in the Sapsik’wała program has helped her understand the importance of identifying as a female, Native American educator in order to help further decolonize education and inspire Native youth to pursue their own education.
I am from Prescott Arizona. I attended Haskell Indian Nations University in where I received my Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education. Indigenous education is important because it provides information that has been left out of history books and gives all people knowledge of all indigenous peoples in this country and the land they occupy. I want to be a teacher to help students achieve their educational and personal goals while providing them with a positive education experience. I would like to help my future students become independent learners and caring future leaders.