Ginger Rogers, right, is president of the Native American Student Alliance and Paulina Torres, left, is a member.
Paulina Torres is of Mixtec origin and Ginger Rogers is a member of the Hupa nation.
What is the primary work of the Native American Student Alliance?
Ginger: To celebrate, educate and appreciate Native American history and culture. There are so many misconceptions about Native Americans. The student alliance is a way for us to come together and work on awareness of the culture; to tell people “we exist, we are here.”
What is your career goal?
Ginger: I am a double major in psychology and American Indian studies. I plan to apply for SDSU’s Native American Scholars and Collaborators Project, which educates graduate students in school counseling and psychology to prepare them for work with Native American youth. I want to work with troubled kids, the ones who are pushed aside.
Did you face hardships growing up?
Paulina: My family came here from Oaxaca when I was five. Growing up, I was embarrassed to say I’m indigenous. Families try to protect their children from racism and discrimination by not teaching them their native language. Because my mom speaks fluent Mixtec and very little Spanish, I cannot fully communicate with her. I know she cares for me, but I cannot talk to her about my struggles.
Who on campus has been most influential in your life?
Paulina: Dr. Ramona Pérez. With guidance from her, I did research focusing on indigenous women and higher education, specifically Mixtec women. I want to go on and get a Ph.D. in anthropology with an emphasis on cultural identity.