You are here

Mercedes Reeves

Mercedes Reeves

Job Title: Curriculum Specialist - The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde

Tribal Affiliation: The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.

1. Why did you choose the UO College of Education for your graduate studies?

I chose the UO College of Education because of the Sapsik'ʷałá Program. During that time of my life I was exploring and embracing my native heritage, something I did not do while growing up, due to living so far away from my tribe. I wanted to go to a school that acknowledged diversity and culture. I also wanted a teacher prep program that taught equity through every aspect of the classroom. The University of Oregon was able to meet all of my expectations. I knew by attending a school that had a Native American program formed intentionally to create more Native American teachers was the place that would be a good fit for me because they would appreciate and recognize diversity, culture and equity.   

2. Tell us about why the Sapsik'ʷałá Program is important, from your perspective?

The Sapsik'ʷałá program is important because it helps gives support to Native students. It creates a cohort within a cohort, which is incredibly beneficial. The UO Teach Program is a very intensive program. It can be exhausting sometimes, and electrifying at others. Taylor Swift song, “22” said it best, “We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely all at the same time. It’s miserable and magical.” The UO Teach Program really is a rollercoaster ride. One that you’ll want to end as soon as possible, but then miss once it’s over.

It’s important to have a group of friends around you who are going through the same things as you are. You can help each other out and give advice when needed. This cohort within a cohort should help provide you with all of the support you need to be successful.

3. What advice do you have for future American Indian/Alaska Native educators?

The work you are doing is so greatly needed. There will be days you feel unappreciated and wore out, but do not stop. There will be days you go home feeling like a superhero and those are the days to remember when you feel burnt out. When you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. And that’s what being an educator is all about. Being a Native educator carries a little bit more weight. Not only are you doing your duty to teach our youth to write and read, but you’re also facing the world and challenging all of the stereotypes there are about Natives, saying we’re still here! Know that the work you’re doing is life changing, both for yourself and the children you’ll meet throughout your career. You may not always feel appreciated, but please know that you’re needed!