Welcome to HECUA’s Alumni Profile series. Each month we’ll catch up with a HECUA alumni, and see how their time in a HECUA classroom influenced their career goals, their life in the community, and their pursuit of continued education. If you or a friend would like to participate in this series, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. This month we’re delighted to feature Stephanie Zadora. Stephanie is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and completed both HECUA’s Inequality in America program (2011) and the New Zealand Culture and the Environment semester (2012).
Stephanie was a freshman at the University of Minnesota when she heard about HECUA. She’d just decided to major in Urban Studies with a minor in Native American Studies. At the time, she had a range of interests but wasn’t sure where she wanted to focus or what she wanted to do. The HECUA Inequality in America program spoke to her for two reasons: the social justice mission, and the opportunity to focus on many different disciplines and issues within one course.
One of Stephanie’s interests has always been working with youth, so she chose to intern with Sprockets, a City of Saint Paul after school program. She gained new confidence in a professional environment and was made a part of the organization.
“The one-to-one relationship that I developed with my supervisor gave me the confidence to speak up about my ideas in meetings.”
After the Inequality in America program, Stephanie decided to enroll in another HECUA semester, this time in New Zealand.
“As a Native person, I am interested in indigenous issues. I wanted to see what other Native communities looked like, and in New Zealand, I found amazing similarities in the issues we both face.”
Seeing how Native communities across the world are connected made the connections between different Native communities in the United States more apparent to Stephanie.
“Instead of narrowing my focus, the experience helped me to better see how things are connected and to understand what I was passionate about, namely issues of sovereignty.”
When she completed her HECUA program, Stephanie was hired by the Twin Cities Indigenous Alliance program within NACDI, (the Native American Community Development Institute), as a community organizer. She was charged with leading a new Native organizing model in the Twin Cities.
“HECUA showed me how issues and communities are interconnected- and that none of us can make change on our own. I am really excited to bring people together.”