Maria is a member of the Coeur d’ Alene Tribe and currently works for the National Indian Health Board. I was excited to interview a fellow tribal member for the first time! This is also the second Mark O. Hatfield fellow to appear as a guest on the podcast in addition to yours truly, who was also a Hatfield Fellow. Maria’s talents have been recognized and she has used her experience and network to go from a summer-long experience as a Udall Intern to serving as the Hatfield fellow and living full time in Washington, DC.
*history lesson* The French called my people Coeur d’ Alene. It translates “Heart of the Awl.” The awl is a tool used to punch holes in leather. French traders supposedly called us that because of shrewd trading skills. In our language we are Schitsu’umsh.
Maria attended the University of Washington after transferring from Loyola Marymount entering her sophomore year. She realized that it was not the right place for her and decided to move closer to home. What is amazing to me is that instead of disengaging from school or losing focus, instead she turned towards her academics even more diligently to help herself through the first year.
Transferring to the University of Washington was the right choice for her. In addition to her academic experience, Maria also organized the University of Washington powwow, which is one of the largest university powwows in the country. All while she was a double major in political science and American Indian Studies. She was drawn to each major independently but realized that the two could be combined into a single interest. She was a Udall Intern where she was worked for Senator Tom Udall (D-NM). This experience ignited an interest to pursue work in Indian law and policy.
Maria’s experience is a perfect example for other NextGen Natives. She excelled in school and happened to come across the Udall Intern program. During her time in the Udall program she met a friend in the program who later urged her to apply to the Hatfield Fellowship. Her hard work and preparation was meeting her network to provide her a great opportunity. She will begin the Hatfield Fellowship this Fall.
In addition to her great personal story, Maria provides some great specific advice about how she handles stress, manages to stay organized, and the value of spending time with your own thoughts. Oh, and taking action.
Maria is definitely one to watch, and I don’t say that just because we are cousins!