What made you choose ECU?
My sister is an alumna of ECU, so I was already familiar with the campus. During my high school years, the more tours I took, and after attending a conference at ECU, I knew it was the place for me. I couldn't imagine myself being anywhere else. I always say, “It's still country without being too city." I'm a country girl, so that means a lot to me.
Tell me about the organizations you are involved with on campus.
I am a member of Sigma Omicron Epsilon Sorority Inc., the first and only Native American sorority at ECU. We were founded here. I really enjoy the Native American organizations I am a part of at ECU. They provide that home away from home. I’m able to share my culture and hang out with others who have that same interest. I am also involved with the East Carolina Native American organization, and we put on a powwow in March every year. Sigma Omicron Epsilon and the Native American groups collaborate to put on Native American events on campus. I like being in that atmosphere—being with others who have the same interests and background that I do.
You were recently crowned Miss Indian North Carolina. Tell me more about that.
I was crowned during the N.C. Indian Unity Conference in March. This pageant is a great way for Native women to represent the Native Americans of North Carolina. I knew I wanted to participate in the pageant because it really fit the way I feel about my culture, and I thought I would be a good ambassador for North Carolina.
As Miss Indian North Carolina, I will travel to a lot of powwows and events. I represent the United Tribes of North Carolina, which is the association for all of the tribes, including my tribe Haliwa-Saponi, and all Native Americans in North Carolina.
What is your platform during your reign as Miss Indian North Carolina?
Cultural involvement and being the perfect role model. I encourage all people, both Native American and non-Native American, to find a culture and become involved. When I share this with people, sometimes they will say, “My family doesn’t really have a culture.” They are only thinking about race, so I explain to them that culture isn’t just a racial boundary. Culture can be something you take from one person and pass on to the next generation—a hobby you have, a sport you play, or a tradition in your family. To me, without culture, the world would be boring!
I also believe in being the perfect role model. Many people want to blame the media, peer pressure, and typical norms to describe why kids act the way they do. But, I have to remind individuals that it starts with them. You can blame these problems on everything else that happens around you, but if you are not doing the right thing, how can you blame anyone but yourself? I tell people to “Be the person that you want others to see. Be the person that you want others to be.”
What kind of impact do you hope to have in this role?
I want to set a good example to the younger generation. First of all, Native Americans have one of the highest high school drop out rates, and I want to encourage them to do good things in life. I know a lot of people back home don’t have someone that pushes them to succeed. With my title, I am able to step in and say, “I am here. If you ever need anything, come talk to me.” I know they are not ashamed to talk to me and ask questions. I want to be the one to help change things, and I want to inspire people.
What makes you proud to be a Pirate?
The spirit here. It doesn't matter if it's a sports game, a presentation, a test, or whatever the case may be. Things may not turn out the way we want them to all the time, but we learn from our mistakes and move on. We try to be better the next go round. We believe in our school and the talents that we have been blessed with.