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White Mountain Apache
Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute

When you see Sabrena lobbying in Washington, D.C., representing the tribal colleges in meetings with her New Mexico senators’ offices, you wouldn’t know it, but this personable and positive young woman has had a very hard road to travel.

Her childhood was filled with fear and uncertainty. Ever since Sabrena can remember, her family was plagued by drugs and alcohol. “Growing up, I was in and out of foster homes and group homes, being raised by too many different people,” she said.

Sabrena was just 16 when she lost her dad. “He was the only one who seemed to care,” she said. After his death, Sabrena and her mom found themselves homeless and drifting. But Sabrena never gave up on her dream to finish high school and go onto college. Even when she and her mom lived in a tent outside of a church, she would hitchhike to and from summer school, working tirelessly to finish high school.

“I finally earned my high school diploma in 2010 but my family never celebrated that accomplishment or even congratulated me. I guess they never knew how much it meant to me.”

One night Sabrena was suddenly kicked out of a trailer she and her mother were sharing with another family. Homeless, penniless, and alone, the young girl turned to one of her father’s friends who she called her surrogate uncle for help.

He was a kind man who allowed her to stay with his family for a few months. During that time, he talked to her about enrolling in Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI). “He helped me enroll at SIPI and even bought me some supplies I needed to live in the dorm.”

With a current GPA of 3.75, this bright, hardworking student is well on her way to fulfilling her dreams. She is earning dual associate degrees in business administration and accounting and is scheduled to graduate next year. After SIPI, Sabrena hopes to earn her bachelor’s degree at Haskell Indian Nations University and then go on for her master’s degree.

Sabrina has strong feelings about the importance of education. “Education is the key. I see poverty and debt casting a shadow over my tribe,” she said. “I want to become an accountant so that one day I can be the treasurer of my tribe. I want to help pull them out of debt and poverty.”

With two young children who depend on her, Sabrina pays for school and supports her family through scholarships and financial aid. She’s working hard so that her children will grow up in a financially stable and emotionally secure home.

This diligent mom also volunteers as a daycare provider, inspiring other young moms and Native children to pursue their dreams!

Congratulations, Sabrena!




06-03-2013 at 10:13 AM
Sabrena, your story made me cry because it hits close to home. I, myself, am a single mother, working and going to school full time. Education is so important to me and I know how important it is to have someone recognise and support my accomplishments. So I just want to say- good job! Stay strong and never let anything stand in your way to success! Your children will see how hard you work and they will follow in your footsteps. Congratulations on all of your accomplishments. You and your little family are in my prayers. Good luck and God bless.
06-05-2013 at 9:33 PM
Sandra Moody
I am so proud of you Sabrena. You have come a long way in your journey of life. You are such an inspiration to many. You may not think so, but there are people who look up to you as a role model. Continue with your education. The sky is the limit. It makes me proud to be of the same tribe. As Apaches, we women are strong. I can do great things, once you put your mind to it. Good luck in your future. 1
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