2020 Graduation

chancellor's letter

The Intertribal Resource Center congratulates the

UC San Diego Native American Graduates

Class of 2020!

We are excited to present this year’s “Native Graduates Honoring Ceremony” as a virtual celebration.  Although we wish we could gather together to celebrate – to laugh, eat, cry, hear honoring songs and give big hugs – we know that our Native Grads are forever a part of our UC San Diego Intertribal Resource Center family and that soon enough, we’ll celebrate again together, in person.

This year’s virtual celebration features vignettes of each of our seven Native American students graduating as part of the class of 2020.  The students have shared pictures of important memories, a little bit about their time at UC San Diego, their plans for the future and words of encouragement for other Native American students. 

We are immensely proud of our Native Grads. It has been a privilege and an honor to come to know them as individuals and members of our community.  Each has contributed to the Native American campus community in valuable ways.  There are many shared memories of crowded meetings smooshed around the table in the center, traveling together at conferences near and far, tabling for NASA/AIGSA/ITRC events, hosting young Native students during campus visits to show them around campus, learning together, sharing meals, getting up early to set up for powwow (staying up late to help break it down) and so much more. 

We wish you all so much success and wellness as you begin your transition to the next big thing. 

Congratulations on all of your achievementsand thank you for being strong leaders and role models. 

You make us proud.

You make your families, your tribes and your communities proud. 

You make your ancestors proud.

UC San Diego Virtual Commencement

One of our own graduating Native American students, Morgan Montoya was selected as one of six student speakers for the Chancellor's campus-wide commencement!  You can watch a video of his speech here.


UC San Diego Native American 2020 Graduates 

Alphabetical by last name

Leonard Almero

There are so many people who have been a big part of my journey that I need to thank and the next time I see you prepare for a big hug (or because of COVID at least a WI-FIVE - this is what I call an air five).  I am grateful to have learned from some amazing mentors who have always believed in me. I am also very lucky to have made many meaningful friendships with wonderful people who have helped me grow as a person. Thank you All!

 I would like to thank my parents the most. Without them I could not be here today. Mom and Dad, you taught me about life by your example. Through your courage, I learned to follow my dreams and to believe in myself and others. Through your compassion, I learned that a simple act of kindness can make a tremendous impact in a person’s life. And by your commitment I learned the meaning of love. I am thankful for all that you have given me. I am very excited about what the future holds and will take all the lessons you have given me and build a life with them as my foundation. Thank you.

Love, Leonard

Sebastian Cuevas

Anah Esquerio

Morgan Montoya

Earning my college degree has been 5 long years in the making. First, I want to honor my mom and dad. Without my parents supporting me every step of the way, I would have not been able to overcome both community college and the university. They have shown by example what it means to work hard towards a goal, and by following their example, I was able to complete my degree.

Second, I want to give a collective shout out to Lake Tahoe Community College and everyone that has supported me during the three years while I was there. Without their support, I would be missing part of my first-generation graduate identity.

And lastly, I want to thank all of the amazing professors that I have interacted with. Specifically Professor Boyle and Professor Chiba in the Cog Sci department. They have been sources of wisdom, encouragement, and knowledge during my stay at UCSD.

-Morgan

Jesse Peltier

First, I would like to thank my fiancée, Cassi Pinion, whose enduring love and support gave me the strength to overcome many challenging times throughout graduate school and my undergraduate experience. My fondest memories are those spent with her. She is truly my best friend and partner in crime!

Next, my Mom and Dad who always stressed the importance of an education, persevering, and reciprocity. Every time I look in the mirror I see them. Although I was far away, they were always with me in lab. This success is as much theirs as it is mine. Of course, the only reason I am here today is because of the survivance displayed by my ancestors and tribe. It is on their shoulders that I stand.

As for my UCSD experience, I would like to thank Prof. Guy Bertrand who gave me the freedom to explore my passions, was always willing to discuss ideas and helped me secure a postdoctoral position at UC Berkeley.

Last, but certainly not least, my friend, Dr. Rodolphe Jazzar. When there were moments that I was filled with self-doubt and a touch of imposter syndrome, he always believed in me and encouraged me to continue investigating my ideas. His collaborative spirit has inspired me throughout graduate school and his lighthearted nature definitely made it a laughter filled experience.

Chi Miigwech!

Peery White

I would like to thank my family and friends for supporting me in earning my degree. A huge shout out to Ms. Geneva who has kept me on track through both undergrad and graduate school. She always listened and reminded me to stay focused. I appreciate everyone so much! 

Thanks, 

Peery

Hydi Ybarra


Student Vignettes

Alphabetical by last name

Leonard Almero (Citizen Potawatomi Nation)

Leonard Almero Graduation Collage

There are so many people who have been a big part of my journey that I need to thank and the next time I see you prepare for a big hug (or because of COVID at least a WI-FIVE - this is what I call an air five).  I am grateful to have learned from some amazing mentors who have always believed in me. I am also very lucky to have made many meaningful friendships with wonderful people who have helped me grow as a person. Thank you All!

 I would like to thank my parents the most. Without them I could not be here today. Mom and Dad, you taught me about life by your example. Through your courage, I learned to follow my dreams and to believe in myself and others. Through your compassion, I learned that a simple act of kindness can make a tremendous impact in a person’s life. And by your commitment I learned the meaning of love. I am thankful for all that you have given me. I am very excited about what the future holds and will take all the lessons you have given me and build a life with them as my foundation. Thank you.

Love, Leonard

Sebastian Cuevas (Comanche)

Sebastian Cuevas Graduation Collage

Anah Esquerio (Kiowa)

 Anah Esquerio Graduation Collage

Morgan Montoya (Paiute and Tiwa)

Morgan Montoya Graduation Collage

Earning my college degree has been 5 long years in the making. First, I want to honor my mom and dad. Without my parents supporting me every step of the way, I would have not been able to overcome both community college and the university. They have shown by example what it means to work hard towards a goal, and by following their example, I was able to complete my degree.

Second, I want to give a collective shout out to Lake Tahoe Community College and everyone that has supported me during the three years while I was there. Without their support, I would be missing part of my first-generation graduate identity.

And lastly, I want to thank all of the amazing professors that I have interacted with. Specifically Professor Boyle and Professor Chiba in the Cog Sci department. They have been sources of wisdom, encouragement, and knowledge during my stay at UCSD.

-Morgan

Jesse Peltier (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, and White Bear Assiniboine)

 Jesse Peltier Graduation Collage

First, I would like to thank my fiancée, Cassi Pinion, whose enduring love and support gave me the strength to overcome many challenging times throughout graduate school and my undergraduate experience. My fondest memories are those spent with her. She is truly my best friend and partner in crime!

Next, my Mom and Dad who always stressed the importance of an education, persevering, and reciprocity. Every time I look in the mirror I see them. Although I was far away, they were always with me in lab. This success is as much theirs as it is mine. Of course, the only reason I am here today is because of the survivance displayed by my ancestors and tribe. It is on their shoulders that I stand.

As for my UCSD experience, I would like to thank Prof. Guy Bertrand who gave me the freedom to explore my passions, was always willing to discuss ideas and helped me secure a postdoctoral position at UC Berkeley.

Last, but certainly not least, my friend, Dr. Rodolphe Jazzar. When there were moments that I was filled with self-doubt and a touch of imposter syndrome, he always believed in me and encouraged me to continue investigating my ideas. His collaborative spirit has inspired me throughout graduate school and his lighthearted nature definitely made it a laughter filled experience.

Chi Miigwech!

Peery White (Peoria)

Peery White Graduation Collage

I would like to thank my family and friends for supporting me in earning my degree. A huge shout out to Ms. Geneva who has kept me on track through both undergrad and graduate school. She always listened and reminded me to stay focused. I appreciate everyone so much! 

Thanks, 

Peery

Hydi Ybarra (Tsalagi)

Hydi Ybarra Graduation Collage