Native American connection unites USD and community
Michelle Jacob, Ph.D., an assistant professor in Ethnic Studies, considers her involvement in her community, both in San Diego and on her home reservation in Washington, an important part of her academic career. Jacob, a member of the Yakama Nation, studies wellness and health issues of indigenous populations. Native education is also one of Jacob’s interests.
Jacob takes her academic interests beyond the classroom by working with the native community to promote education and wellness. She currently serves as the USD faculty liaison for American Indian Recruitment (AIR), an organization dedicated to tutoring Native American students. The affiliation with AIR started as a Community Service- Learning project and has expanded to include approximately fifteen USD students per year. These volunteers tutor local elementary and high school students, promoting education, academic success and the importance of higher education to local American Indian students.
Two of Jacob’s students have been very active in AIR and in the Native American Student Organization (NASO) on campus. Roberta Garcia and Wynona Peters are co-presidents of the organization and AIR volunteers. According to Jacob, one of the greatest rewards for the USD students is to see real, personal impact in the local community. Their tutoring efforts result in measurable improvements of students' grades and a decrease in behavioral problems. USD students participating in AIR earn academic credit as well as a true sense of accomplishment and connection to the community.
Jacob is active in other groups on campus. She serves as the faculty advisor to NASO, working closely with Garcia and Peters to promote the organization and to organize several campus events in November to celebrate Native Heritage Month.
San Diego, with several native tribes, has a rich indigenous history. Jacob and her students work to support the local Native American population while sharing and celebrating the culture with the rest of the USD campus.
- Lyndsey Scully