Here at USC, we work hard to make sure our students can find a community and have a safe space for them to be themselves. Although the cultural club for our Native American students may be relatively new, we are growing and progressing. In the spring of 2020, the Native American Student Union (NASU) petitioned to have an official seat at the table of the USC’s Student Government (USG). They were successful! Since receiving this recognition, their name has transitioned to the Native American Student Assembly (NASA).
NASA provides an intimate space for Native American students to authentically be themselves and to be supported in their endeavors. They are supported by Native American USC Staff and Faculty like myself – Dylan Goodwill (Diné/Hunkpapa Lakota/Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota). Although it has been a bumpy ride since the start, NASA has been thriving and striving.
“We may have small numbers of Native American student at USC, but we make a home for our students,” stated Karras Wilson (former NASA Director) at the USC Prospective Native American Trojans Webinar on October 28th, 2020. And this is true! We have had a strong legacy of resilient Native American alumni since 1934. I encourage you all to read the article that covered the Intertribal Education Collaboration College Day in February 2020 where we acknowledged Joseph Medicine Crow as the first Native American USC graduate and acknowledged the land USC occupies: the traditional lands of the Tongva tribe.
Our NASA student leaders have persevered and continue to work hard to create events and spaces for their voices to be heard at USC. NASA meets once a week and they continue to host amazing events. Currently they are actively planning and preparing for November, Native American Heritage Month. To receive further information on upcoming events, be sure to follow the Native American Student Assembly on all social media platforms (@uscnasa).
In addition to this new seat at the USG table and a name change, NASA has gained a brand-new space to call their own! This fall, a new culturally affirming lounge was launched in the Student Union for our Native American and Pasifika students. You can now find the Native American and Pasifika Student Lounge alongside other cultural centers like La CASA, the Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs (CBSCA), and others in the student union. With this news pace, NASA hopes to set up their weekly meetings in the space to continue to organize activities as well as welcome visiting speakers. They will also use this space to talk with support staff members, to study, or just relax. The remodeled spaces are designed to create a sense of belonging, acceptance and well-being for our Native American and Pasifika students.
In addition to these upcoming events, they have had a full schedule of events this academic year already. On November 3rd, 2021, the USC Office of Admission will partner with NASA to host the 2nd annual “USC Prospective Native American Trojans” webinar. During the webinar students will hear admission advice for Native American high school students and hear from a live panel of current NASA students, alumni, as well as supportive faculty and staff to talk about USC Native student life. If you unable to attend this year’s webinar, the 1st annual webinar was recorded and it can be viewed on our USC Admission YouTube Channel.
Overall, NASA hopes to gain more Native students so they can continue to grow and thrive. We are very excited for what the future may hold! So, do you know any Native American students? Let them know about NASA at USC.
Written by Dylan Goodwill, Assistant Director & NASA Support Staff member