Student Highlight March 2020

March 10, 2020

My name is Shyh Saenz and I am anything but shy. I am an urban Indian from Hayward, California and I am an enrolled tribal member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe. I am currently a freshman at Gonzaga University studying Communication Studies with a minor in Broadcasting & Electronic Media Studies.

My goal is to become a sportscaster because there are not very many Indigenous women that look like me on television. I love sports and I am passionate about using my voice. Being a sportscaster will give me a platform to speak up on issues our Indigenous community is facing and give me the opportunity to bring awareness to the injustices facing our community and help make change. I play Division 1 soccer at Gonzaga and I take a lot of pride in being the only Indigenous person on the team. It is empowering to represent my tribe and all indigenous communities by giving hope to other girls like me to not give up.

Living in the Bay Area and moving to Spokane, Washington was a cultural shock. It’s been challenging as I was accustomed to a diverse city and school and now I am in a predominantly white and affluent school. However, I have learned to push through it by finding a community and support on campus in UMEC, the Unity Multicultural Education Center where I have made friends with other Indigenous students and students of color on campus.

The American Indian Services Scholarship is helping me get one step closer to achieving my goals as I continue to learn and grow as a student. Gonzaga is an expensive private school and my funds are limited because I come from a working middle class family. I do not have any spare money and Spokane is much colder than Hayward. I do not have any winter clothes and a good warm snow jacket and boots. What seems like basic things like clothes, food, transportation are not cheap. Books are expensive and I will need new books for the spring semester. During the winter break they will close the dorm so I have to fly back to California. I have not been back home since school started in July. I hope not to get into loan debt when I graduate from college but I also want to survive and graduate from Gonzaga by June 2020.

Although being a student-athlete is a neat experience it is extremely difficult to have a job because of the time commitment. Receiving this scholarship is allowing me to focus on my education and fully thrive as a student.

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