Iris, a science major at Tohono O’odham Community College (TOCC) in Sells, Arizona, says she was driven to attend college and earn a degree because she feels her purpose is to serve her community. She wants to lead her people to a lifestyle that embraces balance and knowledge.
Iris entered college after graduating from high school. She says it was hard juggling family matters and her studies when her mother had legal troubles and both her maternal and paternal grandmothers passed away. But Iris kept her education foremost in her efforts “because it is important to me, thanks to the encouragement of my mother and grandmothers.”
Science is important to Iris as a result of growing up on the reservation in a desert agricultural culture. Detailed scientific and agricultural knowledge has been passed on through generations of Tohono O’odham people and has been imperative for their continued existence on the land in southern Arizona, where conditions are harsh.
Iris plans to combine her interests in science and math in a degree program and will apply them at home on the Tohono O’odham reservation as a manager on one of the many agricultural businesses that her nation owns and operates.