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San Diego State University

American Indians

Elymash Yuuchaap - Indigenous Scholars & Leaders Program

SDSU student leaders

SDSU EY logoElymash Yuuchaap "Youth Think"

Indigenous Scholars & Leaders Program

Mission To engage, support and promote the cultural, social, academic, and leadership development of students committed to the sovereign identity and progress of Indigenous communities.

Vision To retain and graduate students who will serve as agents of change in their community.

Purpose Drawing from social justice and Indigenous lens, the Elymash Yuuchaap Indigenous Scholars and Leaders Program is designed to mentor and provide a community-service learning experiences for students pursuing higher education and preparing to serve Indigenous communities

Our Name Elymash Yuuchaap is the Kumeyaay Nation way of saying "Youth Think." The campus of San Diego State University sits on Kumeyaay land. This name is used in deference to the first peoples of this region and honors their thriving heritage and culture.

About the Program Annually, a cohort of 12-15 students are invited to participate in a year long series of leadership seminars and service activities. The seminars are scheduled weekly as part of a one credit course through the Department of American Indian Studies., typically held on Friday afternoons. The seminar topics and activities are developed by community and tribal leaders with support from SDSU students, faculty , staff, and alumni. Each scholar is expected to maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA. Throughout the year, scholars are also invited to participate in special events with nationally recognized speakers, local community leaders, and university officials.

Eligibility Elymash Yuuchaap Indigenous Scholars & Leaders Program is open to undergraduate students from all majors at San Diego State University, who have an interest and commitment to the success and sustainability of American Indian Indigenous communities and culture.

Benefits of the American Indian Scholars Program

  • Culturally Responsive Leadership Development
  • Academic Support and Research Opportunities
  • Community Service Learning
  • Engaging Faculty and Administrative Mentors
  • Workshops, Seminars, Field Trips and Study Abroad, Traditional Tribal Gatherings
  • Conferences, Internships and Career Opportunities
  • Scholarship Opportunities
  • Peer Mentoring


San Diego State University is committed to preparing students to become successful leaders in a highly diverse and globalized workforce. Successful leaders have a strong sense of their own identities and a comprehensive understanding of the diverse cultures they engage. Cultural identity is said to be a strong indicator for Native American persistence and academic performance in college. With a balanced immersion in their own language and culture, students can achieve academically, socially, and economically.

Future leaders in Tribal and Urban Native Communities require a unique set of tools that bridge cultures, knowledge, and resources. The Elymash Yuuchaap Indigenous Scholars and Leaders Program, provides a dynamic space where Native American, Indigenous leadership, culture, and issues are at the center of the conversation.

Contemporary Native American and Indigenous Topics Each session has a firm focus on issues impacting Native American communities. Topics include: Indigenous identity, academic excellence, research, entrepreneurship, STEM, sustainability, environment, tribal law, relationships, health and wellness, college success, community engagement, global understanding, and public administration.

Community-Service Learning and Cultural Immersion Activities Students meet on or off campus to participate in community-based workshops, visits to local reservations and local communities. Activities include: small group discussions on topics related to culture, identity and student success, and community service assignments with local tribal youth.

american indian voices video

SDSU Students Share their voices from Shaun Sauer and Ginger Rogers on Vimeo

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Aaron Bruce, Chief Diversity Officer

Office of the President



Dr. David Kamper, Department Chair,

American Indian Studies