My name is Autumn Tsosie and I am an enrolled member of the Diné tribe. I am from a community on the Navajo reservation called Rocksprings, New Mexico. As a Navajo woman, it is important for me to introduce myself through my clans:

I am of the Red Streak people, born for the Near the Water people. My maternal grandfather’s clan is the Mexican Clan and my paternal grandfather’s clan is the Charcoal Streaked Division of the Red Running into the Water clan.

I am a Biology major with a career aspiration of becoming a Dentist. As a Dentist, I want to aid in decreasing the oral healthcare disparity happening amongst reservations and give genuine and lasting care to my patients. Additionally, I want to inspire others on reservations that it is possible to enter professional careers and succeed. After I am done with school, I have a personal calling to return and serve on American Indian reservations.

Growing up, my parents taught me the importance of education and how it is the key to life. As young parents, they knew that education was a way to make a better life for myself especially living on the reservation. I have seen the best of both worlds while living on the reservation. I have seen alcoholism take lives and health disparities prevail amongst family. On the other hand, I have seen how education has transformed some of my family members' lives in a good and positive direction. Growing up on the reservation, I was blind-sided with the problems going on and the disparities happening until I was old enough to understand.

Living on the reservation has its flaws; however, it has taught me many beautiful lessons (being humble, respect, the importance of giving back, and community) in my life and it will always be home. Since the reservation has gifted me with important values as a person, I feel like it is important that I give back to my people. I truly believe that there are those in need back home on the reservation that are in dire need of help and I want to be able to give that help back to them. I aspire to be a leader, advocate, and caregiver for my American Indian population. I believe that it is important to advocate for American Indians because there are unaddressed issues that need to be fixed and I believe higher education is a huge asset in addressing and implementing lasting solutions.

Thankfully for the University of Northern Colorado, it is helping me to reach my goal of returning back to my reservation to help my people. On campus, the Native American Student Services (NASS) has given me so many opportunities to grow as a professional and as a person. NASS has been a great support system during my time at UNC and genuinely has given me a home away from home. Through NASS, I was introduced to the Stryker Institute for Leadership Development, where I have become a confident leader and have grown within my own leadership capabilities. Additionally, this program has aided me to embrace my ethnicity to the fullest extent and to continue to be proud of where I come from. Stryker has allowed me to see first-hand the powerful impact of storytelling and being vulnerable to share my unique story with others. All the opportunities and education I have received from UNC has had a lasting impact on how I will continue to serve my community both professionally and personally.

Learn more about the Native American Student Services