Dawn Barron was welcomed by the Evergreen community in September 2017. Since then, she has wasted no time in improving Evergreen’s Native Pathways Program (NPP).
For the first time, the program is offered on the Olympia campus, expanding access to the Longhouse and other campus resources. Additionally, the program now offers 4-credit courses to supplement the core 12-credit program. New communications, such as an NPP newsletter, are also in the works.
Barron’s leadership is an imperative piece of the growing program, which places value on cultural and traditional knowledge, working with indigenous research methodologies, and expanding indigeneity through academia.
Here, we learn more about Barron’s motivation and drive, professionally and personally.
What do you enjoy about working in higher education?
I love the freedom and creativity allowed in higher education, as well as the exchange of knowledge and endless learning opportunities. The diverse interests of students, coupled with common educational goals, make for a dynamic and rewarding working environment. As a lifelong learner and community-minded person, higher education is my favorite place to work.
What do you enjoy about working with and getting to know students?
If faculty and the institution of higher learning are the foundation, students are the building materials—without students, we'd have nothing. Life is all about relationality, and my relationships with students are the ultimate highlight of working in higher education. To be a positive part of a student's educational path, knowing that your connection (regardless of time or space) is elemental to the learning circle, is an honor and privilege.
What are some past work or educational experiences that will have a substantial impact in how you approach your work at Evergreen?
My career choices have always followed my values and heart, beginning with counseling homeless, pregnant teen parents to working with gang youth on after-school programs; from school-based and adventure-based counseling to writing workshops for disadvantaged youth; to teaching college-level English, literature, creative writing, and Indigenous/cultural studies. I have always tried to walk in integrity as an Indigenous rights advocate and educator.
The past five years I worked at the Northwest Indian College on the Nisqually Reservation as the managing director and faculty, leading to my position here at Evergreen as the Native Pathways Program director and faculty. I wholeheartedly believe that knowledge is power; and in my life, the open and encouraging facilitation of knowledge is at the core of my professional work.
Why are you excited to be at Evergreen in particular? And with the Native Pathways Program?
Evergreen has an amazing interdisciplinary teaching method that is in step with indigenous pedagogy, and I am thrilled to be part of a team of creative, inspiring, and dedicated people who are working to provide learning environments conducive to indigenous and native peoples' ways of life. Plus, the college is in my community and is growing its amazing Indigenous Arts Campus.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I'd like to thank everyone who has reached out and welcomed me in my new position here at Evergreen. If the beginning is any indication, we are in for an awesome and exciting time in indigenous/native higher education! Yakoke! (Thanks in Chahta/Choctaw.)