Driven Toward a Better Future


By Cameron Vernali '20

Published Jul 13, 2018 2:15 PM

These Native American siblings stopped at nothing to graduate from UCLA and lift their community.

Daniel, Minda and David Streamer on Hot Springs Mountain, Los Coyotes Indian Reservation. By John Vande Wege.

Like many other UCLA students David, Minda and Daniel Streamer can commute to campus from their home in Southern California. But instead of turning into an urban apartment garage or suburban cul-de-sac when they get home, the Streamer siblings take rocky dirt pathways to the Los Coyotes Reservation.

The Los Coyotes Reservation, 75 miles east of San Diego, is the Streamers’ home. In fact, it is their Native American heritage that has motivated all three throughout their time at UCLA. Native Americans are the most underrepresented demographic in higher education -- comprising just 1 percent of total enrollment in colleges. The Streamers want to change that. They plan to use what they learned at UCLA to better the lives of the reservation’s residents.

“We need to help them understand that it is possible to go to a school like UCLA, even if you grow up on a reservation in a rural area,” says David, who earned his bachelor’s in American Indian Studies at UCLA in 2016 and his master’s in the same field this past year. Now he is completing his term as treasurer of the American Indian Graduate Association, and he recently worked with the Mildred Mathias Botanical Garden to create a special section dedicated to native California plants. He wants to become an expert in tribal law and help his tribe protect its land and resources.

Minda earned her bachelor’s degree in American Indian Studies this year and will begin her master’s in a social work program at the University of Chicago in the fall. She has served as a secretary of the American Indian Student Association (AISA), and as a peer counselor, wellness coordinator and retention coordinator for Retention of American Indians Now!. She has also participated in planning and volunteering at AISA’s annual campus Pow Wow, youth conference and basketball tournament. She wants to pursue social work to serve the Native community as a culturally competent caseworker.

“I want to build a community where the youth feel safe knowing that they can grow up, and most importantly, I want them to do what they want to and have all the opportunities they can because sometimes they get neglected due to broken families, drugs, violence and alcohol,” Minda says

Daniel Streamer was secretary of AISA as a freshman, stepping up to co-president this year. He also worked as a site coordinator for the American Indian Recruitment project and assisted with staging the UCLA Pow Wow. In addition, he organized a youth conference focusing on education, culture and wellness for Native American youth.

All three siblings see their time in higher education as a way of sparking change not only for those in the UCLA community, but also for people in their tribe and other tribes around them. They hope to offer guidance for the youth in the Los Coyotes Reservation. “I can almost guarantee you that all my little cousins are going to go to college,” says David.

To view the original article from the UCLA Newsroom, visit https://ucla.in/2sVyU1m.