A Native Perspective
Public Health major Claire Alford is working to expand Native American student organizations on campus
In true Santa Clara fashion, public health major Claire Alford ’25 is looking to have a positive impact on others within our community. As a Native American student at SCU, she is working with a group of fellow students, faculty and staff to start a Santa Clara chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, for which she is a national member. Excited and eager to bring together the Native American and Indigenous communities on campus, we asked her some questions about the work she is doing and her experience as a Native American at SCU.
Which tribe(s) are you a part of?
I am a descendant of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Indians. My father and I enjoy learning about and preserving our Shawnee family history. My ancestor Thomas Wildcat Alford documented his experiences in the United States in a book, and I am a direct descendant of Tecumseh!
What drew you to SCU?
After seeing the collaborative, innovative, and passionate atmosphere at SCU, I knew it was the place for me! I was drawn to SCU by the caring faculty, extensive emphasis on making the world a better place, and opportunities to pursue any passions I might have. SCU is a place where my days are filled with meaningful community service, extracurricular involvement, scientific discovery, and mentorship from faculty that want to see me succeed!
How long have you been involved in NACC at SCU?
I have been involved with the Native American Coalition for Change (NACC) at SCU since September of 2021. I am excited to be a part of NACC and foster a welcoming community for Indigenous students and all students on campus! NACC has profound potential for growth, and I have already seen its powerful impacts on the SCU community. I cannot wait to see how NACC brings the community together this year and continues to be a force for good through service!
Why are you interested in starting a chapter for AISES at SCU?
As a national member of AISES, I have seen the extensive opportunities for personal, academic, and professional growth provided to the AISES community. I want to bring those opportunities for growth and a sense of community between Indigenous students in STEM to SCU! Having an AISES chapter at SCU would give STEM, Indigenous, and all students the chance to attend leadership seminars, network, prepare for a career in STEM, share their culture, and give back to the community in a meaningful way as part of a strong national network.
Anything else you'd like to share about being a Native American at SCU?
Happy Native American Heritage Month! I am glad to be a Native American student at SCU, where I can share my own heritage and continue to learn about the experiences and cultures of others. I am grateful for the chance to make my voice heard as a Native American student at SCU, which will allow me to leave a positive impact on the community and amplify other Indigenous voices. I am excited for a great four years here!