Native Youth Pipeline 2012
" I'm not afraid to speak up, and a lot of our people are shy.
They wanted someone to speak up for them, to speak up for them and do for them, and I thought I was a good person for the job.” -Mary Belardo
Miyaxwen, my name is Elka Medina. I m a desert Cahuilla Indian and I come from the Torres Martinez reservation in Thermal, California. I love baking and MMA. When it comes to these to things, if I am participating in something related to it I am completely engaged and focused. It’s hard to criticize me or distract me when it comes to these two things. They are things that I can honestly say that I’m good at and I have a passion for. I am constantly trying to improve my performance. I watch TV shows, read books, and ask questions in order to be the best at what I love to do.
At the moment I am interested in pursuing a career in medicine. For now, I am going to school to study pediatric nursing and mental health. In the future, I hope to be a doctor involved in the same things and perhaps some sort of physical therapy. I have learned that sometimes, it is okay to be uncertain and everything will work out for the best in the end. See? Don’t I look like a pretty great doctor already?
Native Culture For as long as I can remember, I always knew where I came from and because of that I am fortunate enough to say that I am a young Cahuilla woman residing on the original land of my peoples on the Torres Martinez reservation. I grew up with a sense of respect and caring nature for everyone around me and also a sense of right from wrong that I believe came from being with my family. Together, we practice the traditional ways of my tribe such as bird dancing that continues to keep the culture alive. A big part of my life, that has lasted with me for the longest, since childhood, has been social justice and activism. As history shows it, mankind has not shown indigenous peoples a helping hand. Even today in the modern world, there are still lands of Native people being taken over and destroyed by the nation’s governing officials. I grew up with a family whose ideas revolved around the progression of Natives and as a result, I too have inherited that state of mind where it is a necessity to question everything, read through every document, be educated, and know your every right in order to not be left in the dust. Unfortunately, especially in my desired occupation, Native Americans are extremely underrepresented. My very distant goal that I plan to complete in my lifetime is to become a chairwoman for my tribe and create a voice for all Natives. The government and many other sorts of officials in the United States have done a really thorough job of making sure Natives are oppressed and unable to move forward. There are many people that are in positions of power within the Native community who are not doing their part to helping us grow. This frustrates me because I have a passion to aid my people and make them stronger and I know that if I do what I can to get educated, I can help us prosper. I want to be involved in a respected and important enough position to make a difference to our community but that is not to say that was an immediate decision. It did, however, take one career day in my sophomore year of high school to realize that nursing was meant for me. My life thus far has leaded me in many directions. Aside from my career paths, my ultimate goal is to do good by the many beings and occurrences on the Earth. Everything I do to contribute to wellness counts, and I don’t do what I believe is good to get a reward; I do it because it makes me feel whole to do the right thing. I want to do my part whether it seems significant or insignificant. I know I am ambitious and I can accomplish many things.
Published on Jan 4, 2013
A digital book made by a student in the Native American Youth Pipeline to College at Pitzer College and Western University - Summer 2012