American Indian Studies

AIS Graduates Four Students in Spring 2022

June 3, 2022

Group portrait of AISA graduates
From left: Mark Villasenor, Stephanie Barboza, Helen Hatfield, Ricardo Ventureno, and Isaac Michael Ybarra

Four students minoring in American Indian Studies at CSUN were the guests of honor at the annual graduation reception hosted by the American Indian Studies Program and the American Indian Student Association. The students were blessed by Mark Villasenor, vice president of the Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians and a CSUN graduate himself. Each was given a sash to wear during their commencement ceremony. Below are the pictures and statements submitted by the students for the event:

Stephanie Barboza

Major: Chicano/a Studies

Minor: American Indian Studies

"I want to begin by thanking the Creator, the Four Directions, and Mother Earth. I want to thank my father, José Manuel Barboza, my mother. Alejandra Orozco, and my sister, Melanie Barboza, for their unconditional support and love during my time at CSUN. I also want to thank my ancestors, the ancestors of this land, and all of the community members who have become my elders, aunties, uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters. I want to especially thank Raven Freebird for showing me what Native sisterhood really meant. My love for our AISA family will be everlasting. Throughout my time in AISA, I was able to provide tutoring to tribal youth in the Tataviam’s Education and Cultural Learning Department, advocate for free/reduced tuition for Tataviam students, and advocate for a reciprocal and meaningful relationship between the Tataviam and CSUN’s President Beck. I was also able to connect more with my own Indigenous roots and learn about other Indigenous cultures, which helped me tremendously during my college journey. Being in AISA, I was able to uncover my passion for youth, student organizing, and supporting Indigenous youth on their paths to higher education and becoming our next community leaders. I dedicate my accomplishments to the seven generations before me and the seven generations after me."


Helen Hatfield

Major: Family & Consumer Sciences/Apparel Merchandising

Minor: American Indian Studies

"My experience within CSUN, especially my minor, is one I will always remember. Every class I have taken within the AIS minor has gratefully strengthened my direction in which I feel I will be going in both my career and my passions throughout life, specifically working with Native American representation and relations within National and State Parks. I will be starting this journey by working with my hometown school district’s program for children of Native American descent to learn basic Native American history. I truly want to use this minor in the utmost way possible, especially with how passionate I have felt towards it since the start of my studies prior to CSUN. My mom, grandmother, and step-dad’s support through this all has been something I always will treasure and be so thankful for. I know my passion for both my heritage and my knowledge gained while here will stay with me forever, while I also continue to further my knowledge of American Indian Studies, in school or not."


Ricardo Ventureno

Major: Chicano/a Studies

Minor: American Indian Studies

"I would like to thank and dedicate this academic accomplishment to my mother, Gloria, my brother Diego, my father, Mario, and my girlfriend, Priscilla, for their unconditional love and support throughout these past four years. Important achievements such as this one remind me that all dreams come true with hard work and effort. My academic experience during my time at California State University Northridge helped me to become the person that I am nowadays. I have acquired knowledge from amazing professors from both the Chicano/a Studies Department and the American Indian Studies Program that have shaped my mentality in order to face and overcome future issues and academic experiences. From COVID-19 to virtual learning, from not being able to speak English when I came to this country at the age of 14 to being able to graduate with honors this year; from Ricardo who at the age of six years had the dream of graduating from university to Ricardo that currently works for Los Angeles Unified School District and continues pursuing its dream career of becoming a teacher. This is not the end, this is only the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I would like to leave with a quote: "The only dreams that never come true are the ones you never had."

Isaac Michael Ybarra

Major: Cinema & Television Arts with Emphasis in Film

Minor: American Indian Studies

"I would like to acknowledge my whole community: my family, my cohort, AISA alumni, and my academic advisors -- who have become more like an aunty and uncle for all their support through out this journey! They’ve always let me walk in my own line and represent the club with full confidence of doing our community justice. After six years of wanting to quit, they’ve all kept me focused and dedicated. I am thankful for the space the program and club provide on campus. I’ve connected with our garden and envisioned what it would be like to run my own non-profit organization. I am thankful I was able to dedicate a garden back to the indigenous plants connected to the soil on Sesevitam land.