Valentina Vavages, Tohono O’odham, grew up surrounded by nature on the reservation in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. She recalls hiking up nearby mountains during the summertime and picking cactus fruit to turn into jam. Now that Vavages is a student at the Tohono O’odham Community College in Sells, Ariz., she has continued to immerse herself in nature by pursuing a natural resources major and participating in a summer internship program with the Student Conservation Association.
For Vavages, the decision to major in a STEM field came after taking her first science class, Biology Concepts, during her second semester. As part of the biology class, Vavages was encouraged to participate in the traditional plant competition for the American Indian Higher Education Consortium Conference (AIHEC). After attending the conference, Vavages quickly committed to the science program at her college. …read more