Brandon Smith


“Tugged, pulled, and forcibly pushed in two different worlds is not what I envisioned my life from family and friends. I am Diné (Navajo) from a small town in Farmington, New Mexico, a border town from the reservation. It is a place where all acts of all “–isms” exist and the people have their own way of living collectively. Needless to say, I am glad I made it out.

My cultural identity has been stripped and I secretly struggled internally to know my own heritage. Yes, I have isolated my own cultural beliefs and values. I am honesty disappointed and ashamed for being assimilated to ways of life other than my own, and I let it. However, I am coming to the realization that nothing is over and I can revitalize myself culturally. Being tortured throughout my life has assisted and supported my passion and educational experience. My lived experiences have enraged my emotions in a peaceful and impactful manner by helping American Indian/Alaska Natives struggling just like me in predominately white spaces as a young man.

I am truly thankful for the powerful support and love from the Kathryn M. Buder Center American Indian Studies. The staff and Buder Scholars have seen my ups and downs, and surprisingly never given up on me. It has been a rough patch this semester with my grandmother passing three weeks ago. My motivation and dedication will not stop to pursue my MSW/MPH. My human aspect of love, my cultural heritage, and personal journey will continue to see the resiliency of Indigenous Peoples. We are still here and forever will be.

P.S. – My resiliency has brought me closer to my family and friends :)”