Native American Student Stories

“My thesis film project is titled “Indian,” and it shows what happens when two Indian filmmakers, one from southern India and the other from an Indian reservation in western New York State, visit each other’s homeland…I have come to see myself as an educator and historian of Haudenosaunee culture through film and digital media. The overall objective of my film works is to not only entertain my audiences but to educate them as well. Many of the characters in my film projects tend to be Native American. I’d like to think that my film works help defy stereotypes by making sure the narrative and characters are thought out and relatable to everyone.”
Terry Jones
Seneca Nation
Film ’16


“The Native Student Program was essential in providing me with opportunities to refocus and re-energize. The feeling of a close-knit community is there when you are among fellow students and compassionate staff. The resources available contributed to my goal of graduating, but more importantly the people I met helped make my journey more meaningful and memorable.”
-Melissa Jane Qillauruq Tabor, Inupiaq
Kotzebue, Alaska
Dual Major Psychology and Religion, Gerontology minor ’11


“The Syracuse University community, along with the Native Student Program, was very supportive in the transition for our native students into the university environment while maintaining and supporting our cultural values. I found my experience at SU to be of tremendous growth academically, socially, and in career development.”
-Alexander Jimerson, Cattaraugus Seneca
Irving, NY
Public Health major, Native studies minor ’11


“Being of the Navajo and Crow Tribes and growing up on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico, it has been difficult adjusting to a college that is 2,000 miles away from home. Attending a prestigious university, such as Syracuse, I have found my place in the Native Student Program. I have met students and faculty from Native American Tribal affiliations that share the same love for frybread as I do.”
-Michael Buffalo, Navajo, Crow
Tohatchi, NM
Engineering and Computer Science major ’16


“The native student program was like a home away from home during my time at SU. All the activities and events really helped me to feel like I had a mini family on campus. My advice to any new students coming in would be to get involved in the groups or organizations that interest you.”
-Shara Francis-Herne, Akwesasne Mohawk
Akwesasne, NY
Psychology major, Native Studies Minor ’11


“My experiences at Syracuse University as a graduate student and Ph.D. candidate in the Higher Education program have been eye-opening. SU helped me develop my own identity as a Haudenosaunee student, giving me the ability to interact with other Native and non-Native students on campus, and helped me to communicate the issues faced by Native peoples from a grander perspective.”
-Hugh Burnam, Mohawk
School of Education Graduate Student


“The School of Architecture is a very tough and demanding program that takes five years to complete with many hours of work and even fewer for sleeping. I was able to combine both my architectural thesis and my Native American Studies minor into a very well developed idea for what future Haudenosaunee architecture and governance could be. Today I am working with my local governments to shape Akwesasne’s future for the better.”
-Phillip Rohetiio White Cree, Akwesasne Mohawk
Akwesasne, NY
Architecture major, Native Studies minor ’12


On the Certificate in Iroquois Linguistics (CIL)

“When I think about what we studied and the Iroquois linguistic systems we learned about, it reminds me of an anonymous quote I recently came across: ‘I have drunk from wells I did not dig, I have been warmed by fires I did not build.’ The knowledge gained through this and other Linguistic courses here at Syracuse will definitely help me to one day dig a well and build a fire of my own.”
-John Logan, Oneida, Wolf Clan
Oneida, NY
Linguistics Major and Certificate in Iroquois Linguistics ’16


“I’ve already begun to use what I learned in the work I do as a curriculum and resource developer. I’m more conscious of the structure of the written language, which will aide in our goal towards oral fluency.”
-Margaret Peters, Mohawk
Akwesasne, NY
Certificate of Iroquois Linguistics ’13


“I learned that all six of the Haudenosaunee languages work the same (linguistically). The only thing that is really different is the alphabet and some of the sounds that each letter makes.”
-Monica Antone-Watson, Mohawk, Wolf Clan
Oneida, NY
Fiber and Textiles Studies Major and Certificate in Iroquois Linguistics ’15

Becoming Orange

Breona Jones-Rice ’19 started observing open heart and thoracic surgeries when she was still a high school student in Washington, D.C. Her passionate interest in biotechnology led her to Syracuse University, the school of her dreams, where she’s proud to be the first in her family to attend college.

As a biotechnology major, Breona is eager to conduct hands-on research and eventually pursue a pharmacology degree, so she can one day help develop new and lifesaving drugs.

Where I’m from…

I was born and raised in the nation’s capital—Riggs Park of Washington, D.C., to be exact. It’s a middle-class neighborhood that’s been home to my family for a very long time. The neighborhood is very tight-knit. Everyone is expected to be involved in some type of activity at the local recreation center.

What I do besides study…

I like to walk around campus or sit on the stairs of Carnegie while reading or listening to music. I also enjoy playing softball and going out to the batting cages to practice.

What I love most about Syracuse…

I love how much school pride there is and how much influence the students have on campus. People come from all over the world to attend Syracuse, which makes the campus very diverse. But the school pride brings everyone together. Everyone bleeds orange and, no matter what you’re going through, there’s always someone nearby to offer a helping hand.

What I plan to do with my Syracuse degree…

After receiving my bachelor’s degree in biotechnology, I plan to pursue my PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy) degree and work with a pharmaceutical firm, researching and developing drugs.


Find out what Syracuse University can offer you.