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Class Notes May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Native Daughters
Perse Hooper, Muir, ’04


Perse Hooper, ’04, lived on a reservation until she attended college. Then as a transfer student and young mother at UCSD, she bloomed. She double majored in sociology and ethnic studies, became a student activist, and chaired the Native American Student Alliance.

Now she is giving back as the program coordinator in the Education Department at the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians in San Diego’s East County. The center’s 130 students, range from preschoolers in Head Start to grade school students, and the programs are geared to motivate them with leadership training, internship experience and career guidance.

Hooper runs the center with two fellow UCSD alums, sisters Natalia and Lorraine Orosco, ’01 and ’95. The sisters grew up on the San Pasqual reservation and Lorraine, like Perse, first attended community college, which she says made her transition to UCSD possible. Natalia, on the other hand, with her older sister as a role model, went to UCSD as a freshman. But she admits that she still had to overcome the barriers that tend to keep most Native-American students from pursuing a college education, including counselors who didn’t promote it.

“There’s a love-hate relationship with education,” says Lorraine. “It’s all about the support system.” And Hooper, Lorraine and Natalia Orosco believe they can provide some of that support by setting an important example, and showing the children that it’s possible to go to college, come back, and still be an active member of the community. “It’s a rewarding experience,” Hooper says. “I feel so blessed that I’m here. I’m giving back to the youth. I’m able to repay a little bit of the debt that I have from my grandmas and grandpas who didn’t have any opportunity.”

—Neda Oreizy, ’08

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Native American Indian Alumni Chapter

International Center, UCSD


"There's a love-hate relationship with education...

It's all about the support system. "