Voices of TNT

Marlena Peshlakai 


Exercise and Wellness


  "The Tribal Nations Tour has been a very uplifting experience. I had so many great experiences with my fellow Sun Devil peers from traveling all over the reservations in Arizona. It was an awesome experience being able to give back to the students in middle and high school to share our college experiences.  When I was in high school, I never had students from college talking to us about their struggles and successes in college. I am very lucky to have been a part of the Tribal Nations Tour, because some middle and high school students connected with us, college students, about similar backgrounds we grew up in. I was amazed at how stories connected with certain students, because they are going through similar situations. But understanding that someone else has been through these struggles and have overcome it means that anything is possible for them to achieve.  One of my most memorable was at Rough Rock Elementary school, because there my sister and I sang a Navajo song to the students about education and how our families are proud of us. The students liked the song and the teacher had approached us saying that we inspired or motivated them to sing. Two students sang songs they had learned and it was amazing to see them show off their talents. For me engaging with the students was the best part and learning about their goals set in their educational career was intriguing to hear about.  Most of all promoting education was the highlight of being a part of Tribal Nations Tour in inspiring and motivating the younger Native American students to go onto colleges, universities, vocational schools, etc."

Diedra Vasquez

Tohono O'odham and Navajo

American Indian Studies (Alumnus) 

"The Tribal Nations Tour is an amazing program.   The experiences I had were unforgettable and our purpose to promote higher education was never in vain.  I am truly grateful for the opportunity we had to encourage Native American youth to go to college/university.  We spoke to many students across Arizona, but my favorite experiences were the times we traveled out to the rural areas of Indian Country.  The students in those areas were so respectful, and willing to listen to our message.  They were also very happy that a major University would visit them in such a rural area.  Each college student who participated in the Tribal Nations Tour had a unique story that the youth could relate to.  Often times the students would thank us for sharing our success stories.  We also emphasized and often told the students “If I can do it, you can do it too!” The greatest satisfaction after every presentation was hearing students proclaim their goal of going to college.  When I entered college I wanted to graduate so that I would be able to help the youth in Native America.  I never thought I would be helping the youth as I was pursuing my degree at ASU.  This opportunity has been changed my life and I know it has changed the lives of many students we met in Indian Country."


Waquin Preston


American Indian Studies M.S. 

"Throughout the trip I was given the chance to learn from my own peers, their challenges, stories and aspirations which were similar to my own. I feel I was re-motivated and “recharged” hearing their stories challenges they had to overcome to attend school and the sacrifices they had to make leaving their communities. Their hopes and dreams for their nations reminded me why I was in school and the importance of my work. The TNT week long trip changed me, challenged me, and re-energized me and more importantly inspired the students we talked with to start looking at college as a tangible goal.One memorable experience came during the informal question and answer at Holbrook High School as multiple students approached me regarding funding for higher education. Students ranged from freshman to seniors who knew they wanted to continue their education but were experiencing anxiety over paying for college to the point where they were discouraged to apply. I was able to recommend several ways to find funding and develop strengths scholarship committees looked for in applicants. The students were eager to learn and several became highly motivated."


Jared Massey 

White Mountain Apache/Navajo

Political Science/Justice Studies


 "As an enrolled member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe I was instilled by my grandparent’s the importance of my culture and education.  The ASU Tribal Nations Tour has allowed me to pass these teachings onto youth across Arizona.  My participation with TNT has brought me a sense of accomplishment and realization of the impact that needs and can be made in these communities we visit.

Every trip I attended left me speechless and in awe of these students, but one trip in particular had me in tears upon leaving.  After I had spoke of my experiences and journey to ASU a student approached me after and told me it was like I was telling her life story. She faced the same obstacles I faced in my adolescent years. I kept in contact with this young girl and I was amazed when she informed me she had finished her application for admission for ASU.  TNT allowed me to make an impact, even if it was just in the life of one student.

I could go on for days about my experiences and memories with Tribal Nations Tour, and one thing for sure is that it made me a better student.  It’s through the Tribal Nations Tour that I was given the chance to not only give back to my people, but also learn about the people in the communities we visit. 

 To make things simple, TNT changed my life." 

Rudy Anaya


Indian Legal Program



 "The Tribal Nations Tour (TNT) was an opportunity to see the educational disparities that exist within reservation communities. In addition, we were given the opportunity to share our experience with youth who may not be aware of the education opportunities available to them. I found this element of the program to be the most rewarding and fulfilling. I felt as though we were serving tribal communities on a broader scale because we provide a role model for students and information. During the Havasupai trip, for example, TNT gave a resume building workshop for youth. Not only did we work on resumes, but this workshop also allowed us, the students, and some one-on-one time with youth to provide a bit of mentorship. This is why programs like Tribal Nations Tour are vital to the health and well-being of tribal communities. If tribal communities are ever to regain the human capital necessary to strengthen tribal governments then educated individuals are needed to run such governments."


 Kristy Peshlakai (Alumnus)


Healthy Lifestyle Promotions 

"It was an honor to speak to young native youth whose hearts are still developing and nourishing. Speaking to the youth brought back memories for me when I was a student. I remember having no speakers from students who were in college and them sharing what they are doing with their lives. We never had individuals tell us much about how to apply for scholarships, how to apply to colleges, and FAFSA. I knew this tour was a great opportunity to share the knowledge with the students so they will have an idea when applying for college. It was also a great opportunity to let the students know not to be ashamed of where they come from and their culture. Throughout the tour we would introduce ourselves in (Dine') Navajo Language this was to show the students that knowing where you came from and knowing your language is very important. Throughout the tour I thought to myself when I speak to the students, this is an opportunity for me to share my struggles and experiences while growing up. Living on the reservations students have mindset of higher education is not possible or they cannot make it outside the reservation. I made sure that when I went up to share my experiences I would give hopes and dreams to the child that they can become successful. The Tribal Nations Tour has brought me hope that the future of our generations would be inspired and very interested in higher education after we have presented to them. There was one high school I shared my experiences and story on how it was like growing up on the reservation. At the end of our presentation a young Navajo girl approached me with tears in her eyes and said my story is exactly the same as yours. I then told her, you can be anything you want to be when you put your mind to it and told her look at where I am at now that did not stop me from chasing my dreams and gave her a hug.I knew I was giving back to my community and this was something I always wanted to do in my future."