Profile: Kendra Aguilar, Luiseno
MPA 2012 Tribal Governance Pursuing PhD in Indigenous Studies
Kendra is part of the first ever cohort of U.S. Tribal students to pursue their Doctorate in Indigenous Development and Advancement (IDA) through Te Whare Wananga O Awanuiarangi, an Indigenous-Maori University based in New Zealand.
The cohort is led by Alan Parker, Evergreen’s Co-founding faculty of the Tribal MPA program. While studying she has continued to work as an Independent Consultant on community building projects involving local nonprofits, Tribes, and City & County agencies. She is also the Co-Founder of a Native organization, One Totem.
Kendra started her academic career with the Evergreen Reservation Based Community Determined program. After building a foundation for a Native nonprofit with a fellow RBCDP student, Kendra knew she could benefit herself and her community from the top-rated Evergreen MPA program. Although some would have thought it more prudent to choose the Nonprofit concentration, the opportunity to learn from and along-side faculty and students with similar cultural values and a foundation of understanding of the complex history and current issues impacting Tribes and other Indigenous peoples made it the natural choice. It is the first MPA program to work directly with local Tribes to develop a curriculum suited for building a career in Tribal Governance or in serving Native communities. “I had witnessed what other graduates of the Tribal cohort had done to benefit their peoples and was compelled to honor the sacrifices of my own ancestors by becoming a part of that legacy. However, the greatest contribution this program has made to me, in my career serving Native communities, is the knowledge that together we can apply standard, as well as our own traditional values and ways of knowing & learning, to create a clear and proven pathway for Native student success”.