A Mother's Encouragement
Devin is a sophomore attending a southern California University on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. She is one of the nearly 170 undergraduate students who received a NRC AIEF Scholarship for the 2014-15 school year.
She is a member of the Santa Ysabel Band of Diegueno Indians in Southern California, one of 18 reservations in San Diego County. These 18 reservations share a national distinction in that there are more Indian reservations in this county than in any other county in the United States. The reservations are small, with total land holdings of just under 124,000 acres or 5% of the total county size.
Devin was born in a much frostier environment of northeastern South Dakota, but landed back in the San Diego area once her parents divorced. Her mother wanted to be closer to her tribal community. In her essay submitted to The American Indian Education Fund (AIEF) Program’s Scholarship Service, Devin spoke lovingly and with much admiration of her mother.
Devin’s mother received her GED and was a huge support for Devin’s education. Devin is the first in her family to attend college but admitted that “doing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) was a bit of a nightmare!” Devin credits her mother’s gentle way throughout her childhood to provide challenges and rewards. Devin was only in the second grade when her mother purchased the first four Harry Potters books for her. Although Devin remembers them “looking too hard” during the purchase, her fourth and fifth grades were spent reading the series. Her mother never pushed her, but it was clearly her goal to support her daughter’s education.
Devin recalled moving back to California. She was excited at the prospect of living by the beach and enjoying nicer weather. Her mother kept the financial hardships from her kids. Aside from living at the Motel 6 and “camping,” the kids never realized they fit the current definition of homeless. Not a single day of school was missed because of these challenges to the family.
Being the oldest, Devin had responsibilities, even as an 11 year old. With daycare costs being out of reach from the family budget, Devin was responsible for her younger brother when she wasn’t in school. She doesn’t reflect negatively on this experience, but rather acknowledged the privilege of getting to witness her baby brother grow up. It was because of this special connection that “his goodbye was by far the hardest one” when she left for college. With Devin in college, this responsibility was passed to her younger, teenaged sister.
Devin submitted applications to a couple of elite California universities. Graduating with honors and a 4.1 GPA among 300 other graduates, Devin was caught completely off guard when her acceptance letter from her first choice arrived. She said, “I was shocked!”
She reminisced about her freshman year on campus and mentioned, “I was really upset leaving home, but was fine once I got there. The place was huge and wondered how I would find my way.” She didn’t have a car at school, because “parking is too expensive.” Instead, she took the five-hour train ride south to visit home on extended breaks.
With school being a priority, getting assigned a single room during her freshman year helped prioritize her study time. Devin is studying psychology, explaining that “I was always interested in how people work”. She wants to give back to her community, possibly utilizing homeopathic remedies to help eliminate some of the health disparities that exist.
Devin was excited to receive her care package in person. She looked through all the personal care items and goodies that she would take back to school. She was very appreciative of the two backpacks with school supplies for her siblings to start their year off a little better prepared.
Listen to Devin's personal "thank you"...
Young Native students like Devin are the reason why this service is so important. We honor her dedication and her mother’s encouragement. Our heart-felt appreciation goes out to everyone who helped make it possible!