Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Autobiography - The Content, Context, and Passion of My Life


I was born on the 15th day of June in 1990. As the eldest daughter to my mother and father, I have been blessed with the selfless love of the best family I could ever ask for and the wise advice and guidance from my community elders. Before I go further in regards to the content of my life, it is important to understand the context of the world I was born into as the pursuit of my passions is rooted in the global culture to which I was born. 1990 marked the change of a decade from the 80’s to the 90’s, and the world was shifting dramatically. This was the last year of the Cold War Era and documented dramatic political and social changes around the world.  As the Cold War came to a close, the Gulf War began. Political unrest led to revolutions and was accompanied by many former Soviet nations declaring their independence. Though there were movements and agreements made toward solidarity and peace in this international platform, there were also horrific terrorist attacks and national disasters in 1990. Revolutionary action was stirring up innovation globally, and this was the year that birthed the World Wide Web as well a number of noteworthy scientific advancements. With technological innovations beginning to affect the way we communicate, I was born into an increasingly smaller world as our networks began to grow exponentially stronger internationally. As this cultural diffusion was happening all over the world, new frontiers began to develop and social justice initiatives that transcend national boundaries began to reshape the world as we know it.


                To begin the year, the United States invaded Panama which resulted in Manuel Noriega surrendering to American forces. There were significant political changes resulting from the Cold War, beginning with Lithuania demonstrating for and later declaring its independence from the Soviet Union. Soviet Troop killed 130 and wounded 700 protesters for national independence in Baku, Azerbaijan, but this did not kill the revolutions. 1990 was the year that East Germany held their first elections, which would lead to East and West Germany deciding to merge their currency and economy before the end of the year. In Estonia’s first free elections they declared that Soviet rule had been illegal since 1940. The Soviet Union apologized for the Katyn Massacre, but the snowballing effect of independence was already in motion. Latvia declared its independence, followed by Estonia restoring its name to the Republic of Estonia with its previous state emblems. Romania joined the movement as they held their first post-communist presidential and parliamentary elections, and the Republic of Yemen was formed from the Yemen Arab Republic and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen. Along with political reshaping, this was the year George H.W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev signed the treaty to end chemical weapon production and began destroying their respective stocks in the United States and the Soviet Union. Gorbachev was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to ease the tensions post-Cold War as Russia was reformed. To conclude the 1990 Cold War events, the parliament of the Russian Federation declared sovereignty, as did Belarus, and when Azerbaijan declared independence it finally lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
                With the end of one war was the beginning of another as terrorism and political action between Iraq and Kuwait lead to America’s involvement in the Gulf War. After Iraq invaded Kuwait, the United Nations Security Council ordered a global trade embargo against Iraq. President George H.W. Bush made a statement on television threatening to remove the Iraqi soldiers with force. This was followed by the passing of the UN Security Resolution 678 which authorized military intervention if Iraq did not withdraw and release their hostages. Before the end of 1990, Saddam Hussein did release the hostages, but the trouble wasn’t over. On an international level this year saw acts of terrorism across the globe. A terrorist act in Azerbaijan resulted in the Armenian terrorists blowing up a passenger bus killing 14 and wounding 35. In the Caribbean, a coup attempt on the parliament building in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago lasted 5 days and killed almost 20 people. The Middle East also saw continued Israeli-Palestinian Conflict as Israeli police killed 17 and wounded over 100 Palestinians near the Dome Rock mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
                Though the world was going through a period of uncertainty in 1990, there were many positive revolutionary acts and developments as well. The United Kingdom and Argentina restored their diplomatic relations after 8 years of problems. In 1990 the FIFA World Cup was held in Italy, where the world watched West Germany defeat Argentina. The International Olympics Committee decided that year that the 1996 Summer Olympics would be held in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States. International cooperation continued as the Charter of Paris for a New Europe was signed between European Nations, Canada, and the United States. With the end of the Soviet Union Russia saw it first McDonalds this year as the corporate giant continued its international trek. It was also the year Nelson Mandela was finally released near Cape Town, South Africa after 27 years of incarceration. Additionally, Brian Keenan, an Irish writer, was released from Lebanon after 5 years in captivity. 18 months after a coup in Haiti, Prosper Avril was removed from his seat of power in 1990 to be replaced by elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide ending 3 decades of military rule. Similarly, Bangladesh President Hossain Mohammad Ershad was forced to resign after massive protests in his country. In Croatia, the Serbian Democratic Party declared the sovereignty of the Serbs in Croatia and the first constitution of the Republic of Croatia was adopted.
                1990 saw dramatic changes geologically and technologically as well as politically. A 7.3 earthquake killed thousands in Manjil, Iran. Later, an underwater volcano called Mount Didicas erupted in the Philippines and was followed a short time later by a 7.7 earthquake killing 1,600. This was also the year Exxon was indicted on 5 criminal counts for the Exxon Valdez oil spill that had significant environmental damage. As support teams attempted to deal with the environmental devastation, NASA put the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. Paleontologists mark the year the with discovery of the best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex specimen ever found in Faith, South Dakota. One of the most significant advances though may be in the technological developments of 1990. Earlier in the year, Steve Jackson Games was raided by the Secret Service which later led to the development of the Electronic Frontier Foundation to raise public awareness about civil liberties issues associated with advancing computer-based communications media. Later in the year, Col Needham launched the Internet Movie Database which allowed users to search for information regarding films online. Though this seems simple now it was revolutionary at the time. However, the most significant achievement of this year was Tim Berners-Lee publishing the formal proposal for the World Wide Web and then creating the very first webpage on the first web server.
                As the world was reforming and the frontiers of the new millennia were developing, cultural issues transcending national boundaries such as gender equality and homosexuality were advancing as well. In 1990 the World Health Organization finally removed homosexuality from its list of diseases. Following this, Queensland Australia decriminalized homosexual acts between consenting adults. The first female Anglican priests, Kathleen Young and Irene Templeton, were ordained at St. Anne’s Cathedral in 1990. Not to be outdone, Ireland elected its first female President Mary Robinson, catching international attention. In America, George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act designed to protect disabled Americans from discrimination. All in all, 1990 saw monumental changes, and least importance of all of these is my birth. However, I have a very unique and rich story with a vibrant and trying background that I’m eager to share within the context of my own cultural lenses and privileges. This may appear just another autobiography, but the Native American side of my family taught their youth through oral tradition. I have composed this document to explain my lessons of world history and examine my role in it for all those I may serve as a teacher or an elder to, that the wisdom of my family is not lost.


                I like to jest that my family has been Californians since before my friends’ immigrant ancestors knew what California was. The truth is that is only a part of my family tree and to get a thorough understanding of how I have developed into the person I am today a more inclusive explanation is needed. My mother’s grandmother is Native American hailing from the Wintu, Pitriver, and Chimariko tribes of Northern California. She married a Russian man whose family escaped through Canada to California during the Second World War. As Native Americans were considered the lowest social class at the time, for his love of my great-grandmother he wrote scores of romantic poetry, but his love was not recognized by his family. They were wed, and he was disowned for the disgrace of marrying a “dirty Indian”. Their eldest daughter was my grandmother, and after her mother died young of cancer it was my grandmother’s responsibility to raise her siblings and take care of the motherly responsibilities though she was just a child herself. Her struggles growing up with nothing led to her relentless work ethic and her self-taught mastery of a diversity of tasks and specialty skills. She implemented what she learned at home and as the highest tiered civilian employee in the Transportation Department at McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento, Ca.
                My mother’s father’s side is also a very interesting one. Born in Kansas of natural childbirth to a white mother and father, my grandfather has dark skin and traditionally African-American features. His sisters were all white and he was raised in Kansas by a white Christian family, but this did not save him from prejudice and strife during the Civil Rights era. My grandfather began with an apprenticeship at McClellan Air Force Base’s Printing Press in High School. He enrolled in college and loved to play baseball, and was actually drafted to the Pittsburg Pirates. Unfortunately, he dropped a class which made him eligible for the National Draft. When he didn’t pick up a replacement class in time he was drafted to the Korean War. There he worked on cryptanalysis, though to this day he still remains loyal to his pledges of upmost confidentiality regarding his time working for the government. His General knew his love of baseball, and allowed my grandfather to play professionally in Japan for a few years before he came back to the States and McClellan Air Force Base. It was here that he eventually met my grandmother, and they were a strong multiracial supportive couple often coaching my mother and my aunt’s softball teams even after they divorced. My grandfather remarried and I have been blessed with another amazing aunt and uncle, but my grandmother remained a single parent and was highly involved in raising my sisters and myself.
                On my father’s side I’m blessed to have a grandmother with a passion similar to mine for genealogy. The daughter of a country Assembly of God pastor, she’s traced our family back to Norway in the 1700’s. My grandfather’s family has proven slightly more difficult to trace, though we do know they came to California from Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl. My grandfather was offered a country singing deal before he decided to serve his country overseas. When he came back my grandmother and he worked relentlessly to provide for their unexpectedly large family of 6. With a devout faith, my grandmother utilized her property management skills while my grandfather worked an array of blue collar jobs and they traveled up and down Northern California with their family.
 My father started his own family very young, and became an auto mechanic to provide for his new wife and daughter. He had my three eldest half-sisters in that marriage before they were divorced. Now I am blessed with 3 older sisters living on a reservation in Montana, as they are a different tribe Native American, with my 3 beautiful nieces and 3 handsome nephews. The eldest of my nephews just graduated and is making our family proud by serving his country. My father later took a job working for Ryder Truck Rentals, and worked his way up to a position of regional manager. My mother was a recent Marketing and Management graduate from Sacramento State working for Ryder as part of an arrangement to fund her education, and it was here that my parents met. After dating a while, they married and had me a year after. Though I had many cousins on my father’s side spread out across the West Coast, I was the oldest granddaughter on my maternal side and was very close geographically and emotionally to these grandparents, especially my grandmother “Mum”. My parents had three daughters together, and my grandmother was a significant impact on my life and is my role model for the independence, passion, and selfless love she has always demonstrated.


I was raised for 18 years in the same home I was brought to after my birth in the North East suburbs of Sacramento County. I did not recognize my privilege as a child because my earliest memories are ones surrounded by tons of family and love and activity. Socioeconomically my family was lower middle class, and though I now know how rough some years were my mother worked miracles so that I never realized how bad things sometimes got. My mother had me in 1990, but I was soon followed by two more sisters in 1993 and 1994. With 3 young children to raise, my mom worked various jobs when I was younger and I would spend time with babysitters during the day. When my sisters came, she decided though she had her degree and robust career opportunities she wanted to be there to raise my sisters and myself. My father was traveling frequently at the time as a Regional Manager for Ryder, and my earliest memories of him revolve around his return home on the weekends with gifts from around the country. My Mom sold Tupperware for a while, and as an amazingly creative and resourceful person she would craft dolls to sell at craft shows to make a little extra cash flow. Then, she decided to go back to school to get teaching credentials so she could teach at the local Christian preschool my sisters and I attended. When my youngest sister was getting old enough to talk, my father realized the strain it put on my mother and my family having him travel so often. He quit his job at Ryder and together with my mother they opened Hale’s Truck Trailer Repair, Inc. with a Body Shop, Service Department, and Paint booth to specialize in freight vehicles. This allowed me to spend much more time with both of my parents, and to grow in an environment where I was constantly learning about the family business.

Green Oaks Fundamental Elementary School Beavers


It was not easy having my father as the CEO and my mother as the CFO of their own company, because from that moment on work always came home with them. Though the stress would put a strain on parents’ relations, and I’m sure it was not easy on my father in a house with 4 high energy females, it created an environment for me to learn how to mediate. I appreciate the struggles of these times because from a very young age I was able to see both sides of the argument, often with my mother’s marketing training leading her to point out the “devil’s advocate”, I realized generally the best solution lay in a mutually beneficially compromise. This came through in Kindergarten when I would attend special meetings when asked to be a conflict manager on my playground and for my peers. Through Elementary school I was very privileged to be at the best public school in my district. It was not my neighborhood school, but I waited to get in and then attended from first through sixth grade. The parents at this school were generally very involved and supportive, and I was allowed the creative freedoms and rigorous academics to explore the heights of my own passions and talents. Here I was in extra classes called G.A.T.E. for gifted and talented education where I performed my first dissections in second grade and was taught life skills and to think critically. I had two best friends from school growing up, one beautiful and athletic, the other quietly gorgeous and very studious, and they were both rooted in a deep faith in God. One of the best friends I have today I met through church, but even as we grew up and away she has always been the bedrock of reason and love that you need in a true best friend. In fourth grade I made a new friend, a young Muslim girl from Singapore. I was fascinated by her culture and family, and this relationship drastically affected my world view during the 9-11 terrorist attacks and ensuing national blind hatred for Muslims like my best friend. By sixth grade I was the Student Body President and my mother was the PTA President. I appreciate this sheltered time in my life as I feel it was a critical incubation period for me to develop, make friendships, and learn to appreciate my differences and embrace my intellect.

Louis Pasteur Fundamental Middle School


My fairy-tale world did not last forever, and it was a critical turning point in my life when a friend of mine committed suicide the summer between 6th and 7th grade. Going from an academically challenging bubble to the mainstream realities of my pubescent peers, I entered into my own severe suicidal depression. I wondered why my friend would take her own life and what I really had to live for. I learned a lot about relationships as my friendships and networks grew, and I found my purpose in life. I got through that time by not focusing on myself and all of my apparent inadequacies and fears, but by resetting my goals and my perspective, and thereby forever altering the reality of my world. I realized I won’t be remembered for the number of dollars I die with in my bank account, but rather for what I invest in other people and how their life was somehow different because of my own. I couldn’t bring back my lost friend, but as a 13 year old it became apparent I couldn’t sit around and wait for someone else to be the friend people like her needed; I needed to be the change I was waiting for. As Arnold H. Glasow discovered, “Success isn’t the result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.”
In middle school many seeds of interest were planted that have today developed into the passions I live my life by. I had the opportunity to take a Media class in 7th grade in which we learned to write scripts, act, direct, edit, and broadcast our skits across campus. I remained in Honors Classes and began noticing my affinity for Math and Science as I was placed in the accelerated math classes. Then in 8th grade I learned more about graphic design as I served as Co-Edit-in-Chief of the school newspaper and yearbook. I had amazing best friends, and though I was a social butterfly interested in hearing everyone’s story, I had 2 best friends at this school. One of them was a beautiful Puerto Rican, Mexican, and Black Mix and the other was a stunning model whose mother was from Fiji and whose father was an Austrian pastry chef. We were Lulu, Fuffi Fuffi, and Kakootzabella, and from this I use the name Lulu in my current blogging projects. I also became best friends with Bella’s old boyfriend as we all used to spend a lot of time together, a Salvadorian and French young man with a passion for his car club and music. The summer before High School I took a Web Design class at Sac State learning to design websites on FrontPage and Dream Weaver programs, and I designed websites for small businesses before I was old enough to work a traditional job. After that, Fuffi, Bella and I went our separate ways in High School, and though we tried to keep in touch our school schedule and Fuffi’s relocation to Orange County made this difficult. This led me into a new period of my life, as I took it as another chance to reinvent myself.

Bella Vista High School Broncos


Again in High School I didn’t go to my neighborhood high school, which was often threatened to be turned into a vocational school due to the low level of college applicants and a number of other poor performance problems. I enrolled in the best academic school in my district for the college preparation and the excellent Drama department because I love to sing, dance, and act. Though I did not enjoy the new drama teacher my freshman year, I took chances to explore my other interests. I played three different sports over the course of four years. I had gone back and forth between Soccer and Dance since I was 5, but I started out my freshman year playing Center Midfield on the freshman team. Though I loved the sport, the time commitment was huge and I also had a rigorous Honors and Advanced Placement Schedule as well as significant time commitments to work and my Youth Group. During my sophomore and Junior Year I enjoyed playing Varsity Golf as my athletic choice. When I turned 16 the summer between sophomore and Junior I was dating a musician, as I also wrote music since I was 12 and played acoustic guitar since I was 14. I began working hard for minimum wage at an Ice Creamery around the corner from my house. After that I worked seasonally for Mervyn’s in the Children’s Department before working as an Administrative Assistant in my parent’s business until graduation.

High School Graduation


My Junior Year is when I began dating my first real love, who ended up being my high school sweetheart until Graduation when I was 18. A 6’4” German Mormon, he played on the Varsity Basketball team and I grew close to his family as I would go support as many games as possible. My senior year was strenuous preparing for college, working, and taking so many AP classes. My middle sister was a Freshman this year, and I was so excited to share my campus with her. My sisters and I have danced many styles of dance over the years, as our mother was a college cheerleader, dancer, and aerobics instructor. I have trained in Jazz, Ballet, Tap, Hip-Hop, Modern, Waltz, Cha-Cha, Rumba, Salsa, Zumba, Foxtrot, and Swing Dancing over the years, but was not too interested in doing a sport my Senior Year. One of my good friends from middle school was the Captain of the dance/drill team, and I needed to drive my sister to tryouts, so I ended up trying out as well. It was a predominantly young team, but that gave me the opportunity to help play “mama bear” and offer whatever love and guidance I could. That whole year I would go to school at 7 AM, get out at Noon, work till 4:30, go to practice till 8, and then spend my weekends at various band and dance competitions. Most schools do not combine their drill team and their color guard, which dances with the high school band. Our band was regionally acclaimed and wanted more dancers so it was as if we did two separate sports in one year with two separate competing teams and two seasons. The highlight of that year was our team trip to perform at Orlando Florida and then on a cruise performing on the ship as it sailed the Bahamas. At the end of my Senior Year I had my sights on attending University of the Pacific, my Aunt’s Alma Matter, as they were an hour from home and offering me the most financial aid and academic grants. I graduated with a 4.3 scoring a 2020 on my SATs and was admitted to Pacific as an Honors Biology Student with my sights on becoming a Pediatric Doctor.

O'Donnell Fam


One of the most important lessons my mother taught me to accept is that you need to set goals so you’ll achieve more, but at the same time you need to be able to adapt when plans change. Turning 18 immediately around graduation I moved out of my parent’s house and in with my grandmother for the summer. With my free spirit finally unleashed from the demanding environment of my upbringing I set out to discover what the world had to offer me. I have made many mistakes over the past four years, but my scars have taught me lessons that have led me to be the person I am today. Though I have never adequately articulated all of my experiences during this time, I am so grateful for every setback and lesson that I feel compelled to outline this story for whoever might have the desire to hear it. I am confident, because I know that the content of my life is good and exactly what I want it to be, but I am balanced in my humility because I know that I have only become this person because of those beautiful souls that have touched my life and helped direct my path.
When I turned 18, I decided I wanted to be single and date. I believed I had known a good, yet complicated love and though marriage was discussed I wanted to experience life because I knew I didn’t have an adequate frame of reference to know what love really was yet. I didn’t want to work for my parents anymore, but rather worked at a local Movie Theatre until I left for college. My mother is an amazing wombyn, but I know she lives with regrets of her own, and she loves me so fiercely she attempted to protect me from harm by carefully watching us and monitoring where we were and who we were with every minute of the day. I appreciate her compassion and intent, but it did at times make things so painful for me, and as I entered “legal adulthood” I didn’t want to be protected anymore, I wanted to experience the bittersweet realities of life. Over that Summer I rekindled a connection with my childhood love, and that helped me refresh my vision of who I was outside of my parents and outside of my high school relationship. I felt I was starting over and I could choose to be anyone that I wanted to be because perception is reality and how I presented myself would influence how I was perceived and therefore treated. Dress how you want to be addressed. I couldn’t stand people that were too materialistic or lived their lives by conformity and “group-think”. All through high school I would go to as many indie-punk rock shows as I could and I fed off the energy of the non-conformist, the cultural oddities, and the critical thinkers. I developed some bad habits at this time including smoking cigarettes and partying Wednesday-Sunday. I began dating a friend, a Mexican young man that would DJ at local parties and events. I was living hard and fast, but realized my Russian, Native American, and Irish blood gave me a real affinity for alcohol as well as addiction, so I never tempted myself with hard drugs for fear of liking them and losing myself. The summer ended and I entered my Freshman Year at the University of the Pacific in Stockton.

Students of Distinction 2007


I began working as a Diversity Coordinator in the ALANA (African, Latino, Asian, Native American) Center of the Multicultural Center on campus. I met an array of people on campus, but was still so close to my friends in Sacramento I was going there almost every weekend and every chance I got. My parents and I were having problems as they did not approve of my life choices and threatened to stop paying for school. At this point I withdrew from Pacific in first semester and moved in with my boyfriend in Sacramento to work full time to save up enough money to fund my own education. I learned a lot during that time, and I had many wonderful friends and loved the Latin culture of his house. However, I found out he had been cheating on me with a “friend” I had always been uncomfortable with. Being with him also set me back substantially financially. I moved in with my grandfather, and spent a good deal of time listening to his stories and lessons. I decided then to return to Pacific, because with the financial aid I was receiving here it was cheaper for me to return than to go anywhere else. I had some good diverse friends I met through different avenues during this time, but many of them left Pacific around the end of our freshman year for financial and academic reasons. I patched things up with my family slowly but surely and found a new romantic interest in a Salvadorian and English Business Student. That summer I returned to Sacramento and worked at Camping World, preparing to return to the Multicultural Center the next year.

Halloween 2009


My sophomore year I knew I was not enjoying my major as I had before. In high school I loved genetics and molecular biology, but in college I was enjoying Chemistry and discovering life way more than the intense competition and memorization needed for ecological biology. At Pacific, there are Professional Schools for Pharmacy and Dentistry, and the majority of my peers were competing to be accepted in one of these schools. Working in the Multicultural Center, I would plan events that taught about culture and perception and acceptance as well as current social justice issues. I had been planning parties since I was 5, and enjoyed the attention to detail and creativity needed for bringing people together to enjoy themselves. A family friend was an Event Planner for the governing business organization in Downtown Sacramento, and she agreed to let me Intern for her. I decided to switch my Major to Business Marketing as I saw a wider variety of opportunities beginning with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business. I wanted to plan events with social justice causes, and if at all possible incorporate my love of music. My boyfriend at the time had been rushing a fraternity on campus, and I went through that as his girlfriend and spent a lot of time with his fraternity brothers. They were relaxed and respectful and it was a wonderful period of my life, and I ended up rushing and joining a sorority on campus. What makes any moment precious is that it is fleeting and this time too came to an end. Though I appreciate all the memories and bonds I made,  I was in a position I had to choose between my job and internship and sisterhood, and as I had to fund my own living expenses I couldn’t give up my job. An uncomfortable break-up made it impossible to visit my friends in the fraternity house without problems with my ex, so again I set out to reinvent myself.
The end of my sophomore year I began spending more time with an old colleague from the Multicultural Center, a handsome African American, Haitian, and Creole young man from the Bay Area. Our time together developed into a relationship and I grew to love him very much and became best friends with him as I spent the summer in Stockton at summer school and he worked for the Stockton Ports Baseball Team. I was still working at the Multicultural Center during the year, but began working an Internship with a startup company of recent Pacific graduates called Port City Marketing Solutions. They gave me the title of Director of Event Planning and I began to teach myself how to throw concerts in a larger venue. I learned from experience how to handle talent, lighting, sound, promotions, and financial analysis with our Domestic Violence Awareness Concert that benefited the Women’s Center of San Joaquin County. This was the first event I performed in as the opening spoken word artist. I worked for Port City into the next year, but my junior year would prove to be a very difficult one.

Women's History Month 2010


To make some supplemental income I took a job as an Event Manager for the University handling the tech for various events hosted in Pacific’s facilities. Additionally I was working at the Multicultural Center, and was President of the Native American Student Association. I took another job as Campus Affairs Commissioner sitting on Senate and Cabinet as the liaison between Pacific’s Associated Students and the clubs and organizations on campus. Financial strains and relationship troubles led me into the second most severe depression of my life. Though I was not suicidal, I did not want to die, I didn’t really want to live either and things began to snowball for the worst. Family problems back home broke my heart, and the same thing that led me to love my ex made it difficult for us to communicate about the stresses I was experiencing. We were from different cultures, and we saw the world differently, but once I made my heart vulnerable to him our miscommunications would cut me deeper than I could bare because all I ever wanted was to love him and make him happy and be happy with him. We broke up before second semester, though our relationship carried through the end of 2011, and I began isolating myself in my work which heightened my depression. I would use alcohol as a crutch to forget how miserable I was, and one night when I was passed out in a friend’s bedroom alone I was molested in my sleep. I do not know the extent of the molestation because I was unconscious at the time. When I woke up my friend told me he accidentally walked in and saw this stranger over me but didn’t realize I was unconscious. It took a deep emotional toll on me and I withdrew further from caring about school and stopped trusting I would be safe if I went out. Some more horrible things happened to me that semester, and that wasn’t the only night I was taken advantage of. I had to come to terms with that, but at the time I wasn’t strong enough to so I wanted to drink to forget the pain. One of these times I realized I had too much to drink but I didn’t feel comfortable where I was, so I tried to drive the 5 blocks home and my tire with the entire break mechanism blew off. The car was totaled as I tried to pull off to a side road, and as a cop pulled up behind me to help with the dangerous situation they realized I had been drinking. I was a few weeks short of my 21st birthday and I was arrested for a DUI, adding to my isolation with the inability to travel independently. My ex remained in my life as my companion when I was so lonely it was unbearable. I maintained friendships I had made, but mostly wanted to retreat into my own mind and observe the way that everyone else interacted amongst themselves. Through this deep period of introspection, I had a professor, my advisor, who realized I was performing under my potential academically. I didn’t share with her all the details of my struggles, but she gave me the kick in the ass I needed to start applying myself again and not give up on my dreams.

ASuop Winter Tiger Nights 2011


The summer before my senior year was a busy one. I had been asked to sit on the University President’s School Spirit Committee as a student representative with administrators to assess and make recommendations to enhance school spirit. Here I met the Associate Vice President of the University’s Marketing and Communications Department. A child of technology and being well versed in the channels of communication across campus, I spoke up and made some suggestions for disseminating Marketing Research tools that caught his attention. He offered me an internship working full-time as his personal intern, and I jumped at the chance. I began working with the Media department covering commencement and the Press Conferences with former Mexican President Vicente Fox. I’ve since worked on various projects as needed, spending a substantial amount of time on top current and aspirant peer comparisons for the University. I’ve used this research to develop a new University Wide social media plan that will begin to be implemented this semester. I no longer work for the multicultural center, but have continued to embrace the vibrancy that diversity brings to my life. I have worked to build the home I want to live in within walking distance of campus. I have 3 amazing roommates that keep me balanced and constant energy flowing through my house. The two roommates I originally had were in the LGBT community, and the other is Vietnamese born and raised in Germany studying at the local junior college. I am grateful for new and developing friendships, as I have been able to help my male roommate refocus his life and find a way to pursue higher education that will forever transform his life. He has introduced me to some amazing friends, and I have simplified my life to find the time to rekindle the healthy relationships that give me the energy to do the intense work that I do.

Commencement  May 2012


                Looking at the future, I’m so excited for all the various possibilities of where my life may go. I have been giving it deep introspection and looking for guidance from many elders around me. Before I address where I’m going, having explained how I got here, I would do my story injustice if I do not explain what I have learned from my strife. In Native American culture, there is this idea of spirit animals. You have multiple animals throughout your life that are concentrated on specific behaviors and attitudes, that come in and out of your life as you transition and need the lessons they teach. Above these animals is the Totem animal, which accompanies your soul’s energy through the physical and spiritual world. These animals are revealed to the individual in different fears, admirations, or appearances until it is clear to the individual what their animal is. I believe my spirit animal is the hummingbird, small but considered a warrior in battle that will dance out its unique colors and filigrees in the sky. I believe my Totem animal is the mythological Phoenix, as she reminds me there can be rebirth through devastation, and when it comes it’s a brand new chance to redefine who I want to be. Success will not be the end of my failure, but if I stop trying to improve everyday such a failure would prevent any future success. I love people for the nature of who they are in the unique context of their life. I believe that love is the most powerful transcendental emotional energy we will ever know. I believe that the smoky mirrors of modern society have distracted us from what matters in life by using “group-think” to play a giant chest game with the globe and advance the value of money over the value of life. I believe that culturally we have developed systems to sustain our life and liberties in an urban way which are not in their entirety wrong, but this can only be assessed through a resonating sense of the content and context of self as well as learning how to assess all stimuli and information critically.   
In Native culture spirituality and religion are different and separate things. Religion is the systemized way of worshipping a specific deity, or deities, and many Native Americans believe in a Christian God. The spirituality is recognition of the connectedness between all living things, that we all have a common destiny. A good way to explain this is if you are to look at a tree. From a molecular biologist’s standpoint, we’re made up of the same protein and chemical building blocks as the tree, just with a different blueprint for construction. When we exhale the tree breathes, and when the tree exhales we are provided with the specific molecules we need to sustain our lives. Native American spirituality is often misunderstood by modern culture. There are hundreds of different unique tribes across the Americas, and sometimes the old ways are preserved. However trends of a new overarching subculture with common modern symbols and practices are what typically exists in urban and suburban settings. Many of these culturally rich centers are not advertised to the mainstream media as is complementary or true of the culture, but stories are often framed poorly or spun for some alternative purpose. I believe all living things are connected – that is my spirituality, and as a scientist I can prove it. We all consume resources to sustain life, to create necessary energy to keep the machine of our physical bodies flowing in balance, and then expel excess energy, waste, and byproduct out into the environment. This process is what it means to be alive, and every living organism sustains this life as long as it can before their machine breaks down or their life is stopped by some external force. From all of this autobiography, the moral of my life is this: life itself is of the upmost value, we try to sustain it as long as we can but its brevity is what makes it precious.


                So if the brevity of our life is the most precious thing we possess, and our life is measured in time, our time is our most valuable resource. We are all born into different systems and given certain labels depending on our role in those systems. These labels carry inherit privileges and disadvantages which we sometimes use to define us, but if we do we’re selling our potential short. It is our choice every moment if we use our time to live up to those labels, to run away from them, or to have the internal guidance to make choices based on truth rather than the system. This requires the strength of an emotional warrior, to not run away from our problems but learn from them and express our emotions when we choose it to be appropriate. For this to work we must stop caring about how they want to label us, and therefore strip them of their power to decide our life’s direction. You might have heard of this response as fight or flight, but I think our choices are truly fight your problems, run away from your problems, or control your environment to fix your problems. Within these systems those born with significant privilege are more easily susceptible to take those privileges for granted without outside comparison of the context of life around them. In this situation, although the resources, ability, and opportunities may be present, advancement is hindered due to a lack of motivation. Those born to significant disadvantages often appreciate earned privileges more due to the effort and trials that were overcome to possess that privilege. However, those born to disadvantage are often restricted in their pursuit of advancement by limited resources, ability, or opportunities. In my business classes it is explained that you need motivation, ability, and opportunity to achieve what you desire. I believe by providing the resources across lines of privilege to those most motivated to create their opportunities for success we have the opportunity to reshape the world.
                If time is our most precious resource, then the more time we save the more we can spend time doing the things we most desire to do. However, I feel like corporations have taken advantage of this to offer convenience over substance when profit is the bottom-line goal. I am a child of the technology era, and I’m fortunate enough to be born in a pivotal time in world history as global relations improve and international communication is increasing. I have been privileged in so many ways, with a loving and supportive family, amazing and diverse friends, and many trials and tribulations that my community has helped me to overcome. I have a unique set of skills when it comes to technology, music, event planning, marketing, and international relations. I’m not worried about being the richest person in the world, my most valuable possession is my time, and I invest it in those I love that my experiences might help give back to the community that’s helped me so much. People call me crazy for thinking I can change the world, but I think those crazy enough to think they can change it are the ones that do. I don’t have my future etched in stone, but as my mother always told me, “Shoot for the moon because even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.” I’m still learning, and as long as I am alive I will be a student, but the purpose and value of my life comes from watching the ripple effect of the love I invest in everyone I meet.

My Fiance and I - 22nd Birthday


                Currently, my day job is as the Box Office Manager for the Stockton Symphony. Additionally, I am in the processing of open my own consulting firm for event planning and social media marketing. Shooting for the moon I’d like to launch myself traveling internationally and touring anywhere I can to see as much of the world as possible. At the end of the day, I want to open a University for Native Americans in Northern California. It would be modeled after a version in Johannesburg, South Africa where students get real world experience working administratively for the university, and their work subsidizes the cost of attendance making it accessible to low-income communities. I believe education is the key to thinking critically, and if we can awaken this interconnected generation of Millennials to pursue truth rather than tradition we have the capability to reshape the entire world economy sustainably. The old world taught that for a new civilization to rise another must fall, but I don’t agree with this model in modern context. We are seeing technical evolution at such a rapid rate, it is making it possible to communicate in ways never imagined and make executive decisions that more adequately represent the people. It’s not that everything in society is wrong, but it needs to be upgraded to keep up globally. However, the beauty in the cultures of the past should be kept alive as they still have lessons to teach us. This is just my story, and I am just one girl, but maybe one day you’ll be able to say you know one girl that changed the world. 

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