BriAnn (age 25) is from the village of Tewa and member of the Tuwawungwa (Sand Clan). She graduated from Hopi Jr./Sr. High School in 2008 and completed her Bachelors of Science in 2012 from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. BriAnn is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Architecture at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she plans to graduate in 2017. Her proud parents are Neomi Nahee and Brian Laban.
Which people in your life encouraged education?
“It all started with my entire family. They would always say do well in school. So I did, such an obedient child I was... followed by all my teachers I ever had... always encouraging and challenging me. I appreciate every single one of them. However, out of all of them there are two individuals who encouraged me more with their simple words of wisdom. My fourth and fifth grade teacher Mrs. D encouraged me to “never stop asking questions.” So I never stopped.”
“The next individual Is my sister Hollie. Being her younger sister it was natural for me to want to do everything she did. She was in Upward Bound and I wanted to do the same but she told me not to. She encouraged me to do a 3-year math and science summer program called (MS)2 Program in Andover Massachusetts. That push she gave me changed my life forever, I’m a nerd for life now.”
Provide an example of an obstacle or challenge you overcame to continue your education journey?
“There were and still are many times when I just want to give up because I miss home so much. I miss my family, friends, the food, the openness, the dances and everything else I’ve come to appreciate about Hopi. I am sacrificing all of that to further my education and sometimes I wonder, “Is it worth it?” I know I have acquired enough skills to obtain a good job back home, however, I don’t want to do just any thing. I want to help progress not only my tribe but many others as well with my knowledge in Architecture and Community Planning. That’s what keeps me going. How will I contribute to develop my tribe if I give up now?”
How is being a part of Hopi/Tewa special for you?
“Being Hopi/Tewa gives me a unique perspective on life. I use that perspective in the classroom and always try to tie in my culture with my work. I align myself to Hopi ideals of living simple, caring for the land, working hard and holding water as sacred. On the island, we are surrounded by water which is a complete opposite to where I grew up.”
What advice would you share with other Hopi students about college?
“My advice would be to try new things. Your mind may be set on a major, but branch out during your first and second year. Don’t think of it as wasting time because even a bad experience is just as insightful as a good one. Test the waters and who knows you might find much more happiness in a different major. When we pursue higher education we have the goal of improving our life and lives around us. This is great, but remember your happiness should be a goal too. So relax, drink some hot cocoa, play a board game, fix a puzzle, exercise, sing Disney songs, do whatever makes you happy. Just don’t let these simple joys turn into procrastination tools.”
Thank you for supporting not only me but many other Hopi scholars! Kuuna’a (Thank You, Tewa Language)