Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

Studio art major finds community, opportunity in Native Student Programs

A member of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe, Roberto Dyea '19 practices traditions and builds community among Native students as a member of the Native Student Union at the University of Redlands. (Photo by Coco McKown '04, '10)

After spending two years at a community college in Barstow, California, Roberto Dyea ’19 transferred to the University of Redlands to pursue a major in studio art. What he didn’t expect to find was a home away from home in Native Student Programs.

“Even though there was a group of Native students at my last school, I didn’t really get to learn about my heritage or the people around me,” he says. “I had to learn about my culture and its traditions through my family members.”

Dyea, member of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe, found a different landscape at the University of Redlands and prioritized getting involved. After joining the Native American Student Union (NASU), he became an intern in the office of Native Student Programs (NSP), which is supported by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. At NSP, he assists with office and volunteer work and travels with staff to regional high schools to talk about the program’s offerings. 

Dyea notes that joining NASU has been a highlight of his time at Redlands. “The group is a safe space for Natives—we’re able to practice traditions without judgment and learn about each other,” he says. “Being a member of NASU has shown me that I’m not alone on campus.”

Being a studio art major has also taught Dyea a thing or two. Since arriving at Redlands, Dyea has widened his artistic skillset and worked with new media such as acrylic and oil painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, and different computer programs with the help of Professor Munro Galloway.

“Professor Galloway changed my mindset about art,” he says. “He taught me new techniques and how I can step out of my comfort zone and surpass my own limits.” 

Dyea has benefitted from the studio art program in other ways as well. During a trip to San Francisco, he and his classmates toured a design agency and met designers at Facebook’s headquarters. Program faculty also encouraged him to apply for internships, one of which turned into an opportunity to work at the New Americans Museum in San Diego, California, last summer.

“I never expected to land an internship through the Arts Summer Internship Board,” he says. “I got to spend two months in San Diego learning about marketing and museum operations. My expenses were covered because of my internship application—it was one of the best experiences I’ve had!”

In addition to learning how to connect with people and manage his time, Dyea adds that he feels prepared for life beyond the University of Redlands campus. “My passion for art began when I was 5 years old,” he says. “These past two years have shown me that I can pursue art my whole life.”

Learn more about Studio Art and Native Student Programs at the University of Redlands.