life can be a culture shock for anyone, but for American Indian
students the feelings of isolation and being overwhelmed can be
enough to send them packing.
are just a lot of challenges to leaving the reservation and adapting
to the real world," said Jacqueline Sanchez, a UC Berkeley
basketball player, member of the Paiute and Shoshone tribes and
mentor to American Indian students. "There's academic challenges,
money challenges ... just being away from their families is hard.
A lot of students just go back home."
decided to help keep those students on the higher-education track.
For the past two summers, she has volunteered for a program called
Summer Rez, a four-day event for American Indian high school students
that's meant to encourage and prepare them for college life.
year, 29 students from around the state stayed in dorms at UC Davis,
toured that campus as well as UC Berkeley and Sacramento State,
and met with American Indian college students like Sanchez, who
told them what to expect from college, how to prepare and most importantly,
why they should even bother.
majority of Native American kids don't even finish high school,"
said Sanchez, who grew up in Sacramento but has close family ties
to the Susanville Rancheria in Lassen County. "At Summer Rez,
we try to give something to work toward, try to set high goals for
them, teach them how they can help their culture and their communities
by staying in school."
Sanchez didn't have a problem with the transition herself. She went
smoothly from being a star basketball player at Mira Loma High School
in Sacramento, to junior college and then UC Berkeley, largely because
of the support she found through her teammates and American Indian
no fluke she fell into basketball as a calling.
is a really big thing for Native Americans," she said. "It's
an easy thing for us to get involved in because you don't need a
field, you don't need money for equipment. All you need is a ball
and a hoop. We all play a lot. "
averaged 19 points and 17 rebounds a game in high school and as
a freshman helped lead her team to the Capital Valley Conference
title. She was team captain her junior and senior years, and a four-time
all-league selection and team MVP her senior year.
is a great addition to our program," said Cal coach Caren Horstmeyer.
"She's an outstanding all-around player -- she can play any
position, she's very versatile. She can make a considerable impact
on our team.
looking forward to her second year here."
instead of falling into the stay-at-home pattern of many American
Indian students, Sanchez decided to get as far away as possible.
She enrolled at a junior college in Chattanooga, Tenn., and after
a year there won a scholarship to play at Cal; Sanchez is one of
two American Indian women playing Division I basketball.
goal was always to get to college any way I could because I know
that not a lot of Native Americans continue their educations,"
she said. "I want to bring my experience back to my community
to improve our lives."
entering her third year at Cal, she's a Native American studies
major and plans to study law and go into tribal government when
to Berkeley was fantastic," said Sanchez, who's staying in
Berkeley the whole summer. "There was so much diversity. I
love it here."
5-foot-9 guard is known for her passing skills and game savvy, according
to the Cal media guide.
been lucky because I've always had my team to support me,"
she said. "But I want to help make sure other Native American
students get support, too. "