Director Contributes to Native Students’ Education

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Director Contributes to Native Students’ Education
(Photographed by Brandi Youvella)

 

In a space located at Arizona State University on the Tempe campus in Discovery Hall, you can find the American Indian Initiatives Office. Even though it holds three rooms, Native American students from a wide range of majors are running in and out of the office throughout the day.

Whether to seek advice from the employees, to look for food or find a spot on the floor to do homework, the office is in constant motion. One of the employees who is always on her feet or waiting with an open ear is Annabell Bowen, the director of the American Indian Initiatives office.

Annabel Bowen is from Tuba City on the Navajo Reservation and is 43-years-old. Her tribes are the Navajo and Seneca. She works for ASU in the office but helps in a variety of other branches such as financial aid and local community projects besides outreach programs. The latter of which is where she works with Native American communities to encourage students to pursue a higher education.

Bowen’s office is decorated with ASU mementos and her door that she always leaves open is covered with graduation invites from past Native American students. She calls herself a “diehard Sun Devil” as she has worked with ASU as a finance and economics advisor for the W.P. Carey School of Business right after she graduated. She later left for her current position so that she would be able to give back to the Native community.

She contributes to the students’ lives by being a constant source of support, advice and confidant. When others are in doubt or need a second opinion, students under her care or those who randomly walk in to the office at times seek her out. Whether it’s school struggles, homesickness or personal problems, Annabell is there to help without hesitation.

Sahmie Joshevama is a management intern for the office and works closely with Annabell. Her office is next door and the two constantly visit each other throughout the day whether to work or chat. She has known Bowen since she was an undergraduate and was able to get her current position because of her. Joshevama is also pursuing a Master’s degree at the same time which Bowen had been the one to encourage her to pursue and had helped throughout the application process.

“I think the number one thing I respect about Annabelle is her humbleness. She does so much for other people and so much work for her community and for the students on campus. She’s not the type of person that likes to be up front and center,” she said. “So when things happen, she’s always looking for ways to get me involved or the students to do the speaking for presentations.”

Bowen graduated from ASU with two Bachelor’s degrees (History and American Indian Studies) and a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction in Indian Education. She is currently in a Ph.D. program while still taking on the role as Director.

“She does papers, homework, readings and she has all this stuff on her plate,” Joshevama said. “She always makes time for any student that walks in the door that needs help.”

Her other co-worker is the assistant Vice President of Tribal Relations Jacob Moore who has known Bowen since she was an undergraduate. Before he joined ASU, he had never been in a university position and had relied on her to show him the way.

“The more that I got to know the kind of work that she was doing, you know I felt it was good to have people that were working directly with our Native students, to help encourage them and support them in many ways,” Moore said. “Her experience in being an advisor has helped in her current role because she knows-when talking to students, what they need to do. Not every student, myself included, and probably every student doesn’t come to university knowing exactly what you need to take care of.”

 To Bowen, her work is meaningful to her as it is a way to give back to the Native community but also a chance to be of help to students as those before her had done for her.

 “I’m able to help bring ASU back to the community, to promote college readiness and college access. To share that message of encouragement. To share the message of hope that if I can come from this community and graduate, so can all of these students here and vice versa with other communities…different reservations,” Bowen said. “That they are able to grow up there and graduate, to come down here to ASU…majoring in whatever degree and showing that it is possible.”

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