Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

‘Holding the key to a future of potential and promise’

A student pairs a traditional Native American necklace with their Class of 2021 Commencement sash.

On April 28, the University of Redlands hosted a virtual event to celebrate the seven recipients of the San Manuel Excellence in Leadership Scholarship from the Classes of 2020 and 2021.

Senior Diversity and Inclusion Officer Christopher Jones welcomed guests and acknowledged the University’s location on the traditional lands of the Serrano and Cahuilla people. Larry Gross, who serves as the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Endowed Chair of Native American Studies, gave a blessing, after which Provost Kathy Ogren spoke about the importance of Native student programming at the University.

“While so much has changed at the University of Redlands over the last year, our most fundamental values have remained the same, including our continued commitment to educating the Native leaders of tomorrow,” said Ogren. “Despite the myriad challenges that the pandemic has caused, we want to ensure that these future leaders have access to a Redlands education, as well as the support and services that will contribute to their future successes as Bulldogs.”

Ogren recalled the University’s commencement in 2019, when Santos Manuel, a leader who created a lasting legacy through the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, received a posthumous honorary degree. “A century after his passing, Manuel’s example still lives on through the determination of our scholarship recipients, who dedicated themselves to their studies despite the differences in how their classes were being delivered,” Ogren observed. “The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians continues to act on their highest beliefs and values, demonstrated in their strong partnership with numerous community and nonprofit organizations, including the University of Redlands.”

The University has enjoyed a longtime partnership with San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, dating back to the establishment of an endowed chair in 2010. Latisha Casas ’12, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Treasurer, also shared a reflection with the students: “Our venture into this partnership with the University was driven by one priority above all. We wanted to change the education culture and the approach the University took to recruit, enroll, educate, and graduate Native American students.”

An alumna of the University’s School of Business, Casas shared some of her own experiences during her own educational journey at U of R, as well as how she has applied her Redlands degree to her current work, noting, “You, our young scholars, hold the key to a future of potential and promise for our families, our communities, and our tribal nations.”

Director of Native Student Programs Nora Pulskamp introduced each of the graduates from the Classes of 2020 and 2021 who received this prestigious award:

  • Emma Brown Thunder, Class of 2020, sociology and anthropology degree
  • Theodora “Teddy” Hanson, Class of 2020, international relations degree
  • Destiny Ng, Class of 2020, English degree with a minor in psychology
  • Taylor Brown Thunder, Class of 2021, political science degree with a minor in English
  • Emelia Gregor, Class of 2021, liberal studies and Spanish degree
  • Gavin Navarro, Class of 2021, English and religious studies degree
  • Myeekay Notah, Class of 2021, creative writing degree with a minor in English

Pulskamp shared a testimonial from Gregor, who expressed gratitude for the relationships she built with her professors and advisors and appreciation for the Native American Student Union that made her feel welcome and at home:

“Thank you for your support in my journey as a student. I am very honored and grateful to have received the San Manuel scholarship and hope to make an impact on my future students as a teacher. I am extremely lucky to have gone to Redlands and pursue a career I genuinely want, and it was with the help of San Manuel. Thank you!”

“Thanks to San Manuel,” noted Pulskamp, “we can offer scholarship recipients a pathway to choose Redlands and the necessary tools to complete their degree programs successfully.”

Vice President for Advancement Tamara Josserand closed the recognition program, thanking San Manuel once again for their generous support: “Tonight, as I hear the accomplishments of these Native Bulldogs and think about the significant impact they will have on those outside our University community, I am hopeful and proud. I wish to echo the gratitude that my colleagues have expressed to San Manuel for all that you have made possible—not just for our recent graduating scholars, but for those who came before them and those who will follow.”

Learn more about Native student programs and the San Manuel Excellence in Leadership Scholarship at the University of Redlands.