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  • Writer's pictureArianne Ontiveros

Moakeah Rivera

Moakeah Rivera is a rising senior majoring in medical anthropology on the pre-med track. She is originally from Encinitas, California. She is the 2021 co-executive director and co-founder of the Native American Student Assembly (NASA) and she is a part of the Kumeyaay tribe. She along with her fellow co-founders were responsible for transitioning the Native American Student Union to a student assembly - with a place inside the student government and the resources and funding of a student assembly. For her the most important part of NASA is: “The representation. When I think of the reservations I think of all of the kids who could come here and thrive. This place in the student union is so important because it is going to be the epicenter of any native kid who is feeling homesick. Native communities are small, we all know each other. We want people to know that natives still exist. We might exist in different shades but we exist.” Something else that is incredibly important to her is raising awareness and creating representation around those who are neurotypical. She grew up with learning disabilities specifically chromesthesia where she sees numbers as colors therefore she greatly struggled with mathematics growing up.

She describes NASA as being a resource center. “It is very difficult for Native Americans to assimilate. A lot of us check off the boxes first gen, low income, etc. We have to do everything alone. These are a lot of the things that people do not consider. The oppression that Natives face.Native women face sexual assault and rape at a much higher rate than many other women (⅓ of native women are assaulted by the age of 16) . It is not just a statistic it is a reality - every woman in my family has been assaulted or raped. There is a reality of being Native person in college and even added being a Native woman in college.” Not only has she held the role of Co-Executive Director in NASA several times she was the organization’s vice president before it was NASA but rather NASU (Native American Student Assembly). She is also in charge of public relations. Besides her involvement in NASA she is also the Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the USC’s chapter of Alpha Chi Omega, a regular volunteer at Water Drop Los Angeles, a member of USC Reach, and a member of the Changing Wxman Collective. She told us that she wants her legacy at USC to be : ““Nothing is impossible. If you really want it you can really get it. I want my legacy to be plowed through every door that is an obstacle to you. Existing at USC is my legacy. It is very difficult to create an assembly in such a short amount of time. We needed an assembly because we only make up two percent of the population and we don’t have a larger community.”

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