Support for Indigenous Graduate Students:
The American Indian Graduate Student Association
The American Indian Graduate Student Association (AIGSA) is the only registered student organization that centers Native and Indigenous graduate students across UC Berkeley. As a student led organization, we are dedicated to bringing Native graduate students together from across campus. Through academic, social, and outreach events, AIGSA works towards strengthening the Native American/Indigenous student community on-campus and beyond. From Civil Engineering to Linguistics, all Native and Indigenous graduate students are encouraged to build on the academic, professional, and cultural legacies inherited previous Native and Indigenous graduate students. AIGSA membership has always, and will remain, free (we do not require membership fees).
Your Donation's Impact on AIGSA
Program Components: Where Your Money Goes
Your contribution to the AIGSA fundraiser will directly benefit Native and Indigenous graduate students at UC Berkeley and will go towards the following initiatives:
$3,000: The Annual AIGSA Writing and Wellness Retreat
TAIGSA Members in Lake Tahoe during the 2022 Writing and Wellness Retreathe Annual AIGSA Writing and Wellness Retreat offers AIGSA members research collaboration, flexible writing time, mindfulness activities, and community. This retreat provides a valuable opportunity for students to cultivate deeper relationships with other members and moments of rest and relaxation during the school year. Your donations will contribute to housing, transportation, and food during our three day retreat.
$2,000 and Additional Donations: Conference and Programming Support
Members counting acorns with Professor Peter Nelson (Coast Miwok, Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria)
These funds will support our planned programming for the following year as well as travel and conference registration for members who plan to present or attend the 2023 NAISA conference in Toronto.
Some of our annual programming events include:
- First-year Native and Indigenous Graduate Student Dinner
- Indigenous People’s Day Sunrise Ceremony
- Native American Heritage Month Events
- Native and Indigenous Student Graduate Ceremony
- AIGSA Headshot Session
- AIGSA Community Library
Program Outcomes: How Your Donation Supports Us
AIGSA membership has grown to over 30 active members largely because of our annual programming events. These events create opportunities for relationship building and learning from peers and other Indigenous scholars. By supporting our annual programming, we will be able to provide more events on campus for our members and create opportunities to collaborate and build relationships with the larger Bay Area Native and Indigenous community.
AIGSA members are looking to start a community library of Indigenous written literature that will be housed in the AIGSA graduate lounge. Additionally we hope to provide 1 book of a member's choice for their birthday each year. This will encourage new ideas and perspectives for research and deepening relationships with peers.
Improved Well-being for Members
For many Native and Indigenous students, graduate school can feel isolating and overwhelming. Through our community events, professional development opportunities, and friendships, AIGSA members have a space to simply be themselves, feel empowered by peers and faculty, and reminded that we do belong in graduate programs. This space has been invaluable to the mental and spiritual wellness of our members as many of us are first-generation graduate scholars.
As a part of AIGSA's efforts to provide professional development opportunities for members, we are looking to host a headshot session for members this spring. Headshots convey one's personality and professionalism, all of which is vital to a young researcher's publications, networking, and overall professional growth. Your donations will contribute to a professional headshot session hosted for AIGSA members in the spring of 2023. Funds will cover costs such as hiring a photographer and potential equipment rental.
Publications and Research Collaboration
AIGSA often connects students with other Native and Indigenous students and faculty for research collaboration and advising through our events and meetings. Specifically through our Crossing Paths sessions (5 per year), we connect graduate and undergraduate Native and Indigenous students who have similar research interests to present their research to the larger UC Berkeley Native and Indigenous community. We have also had students publish research and journal articles as a result of attending previous writing and wellness retreats.
PhD Student in Performance Studies
"The connections I’ve made as a member of AIGSA have shaped my graduate experience immensely. I am beyond grateful for the supportive community I have been able to build with fellow Indigenous graduate students.”
Talia is an enrolled member of the Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians. She aspires to research and document the performance of her peoples' culture and identity within both historic and contemporary contexts. Her research interests are informed by her years of practice as a movement artist, as well as the connection to place her family has maintained for millennia in the coastal mountain region of San Diego County California. She graduated cum laude with an Honors B.F.A. in Modern Dance and minor in Native American Studies from the University of Utah.
PhD Student in Environmental Sciences, Policy, and Management
"AIGSA has provided me with the opportunity to find community, support, and lasting friendships; it has been integral to my success as a student. I am especially excited to participate in another retreat with everyone!"
Sierra is an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation and is interested in Indigenous food and seed sovereignty and traditional food systems; as such, her research combines agroecology and Indigenous knowledge to analyze challenges to food sovereignty and traditional food systems among the Chickasaw Nation, and support food system revitalization efforts. She earned a B.A. in Political Science from UC Berkeley and an M.S. in International Development and Management from Lund University, Sweden.
PhD Student in Ethnic Studies
"AIGSA’s impact on my educational and professional experience is immeasurable. My involvement in AIGSA has inspired me to build grounding peer-to-peer networks at Cal and beyond. It has shaped the student leader I am today."
Jesús is Nahua and a scholar interested in researching the intersection of food and political Indigenous sovereignty. He received a M.A. in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley and a M.A. in Latin American Studies from UT-Austin where he focused on Nahua maize adoptions practices. They were a former co-chair for AIGSA and the Food Institute Graduate Council; they are currently a Community and Diversity Fellow and a Global Food Initiative Fellow for the Berkeley Food Institute.