Native Staff

Read through the profiles of the Native staff members currently working at UCSC.

    Brenna Candelaria (she/her)

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    Tribal Affiliations: Karuk, Choctaw

    Hello!
    My family is Karuk Indian! I inherited about 6.5 acres of sacred land from our tribe when my father passed. It is off a road called “Ishi Pishi” in Siskiyou County. My grandfather is Oak Bottom Mack who first inherited the land when his brother Oak Bottom Jack died (who is my uncle). When my father’s mother was 12 years old, her mother drowned in the American River, it was then that my grandmother was forced to enroll in a residential school.
     
    I am a UCSC Alum! I am a first-generation college student and I transferred from De Anza Community college. I majored in Community Studies with a focus on social justice in academia. My research focus for my senior thesis and field study was on education equity and how access to academic resources impact student retention. When I was an undergrad at UCSC I was an intern at the Ethnic Resource Center maintaining an internship database and providing peer advising for undergraduate students. I also worked at the UCSC Women's Center, providing peer resource advising, and reading and writing support to re-entry students. I have been on campus for 18 years, 8 of those years was in the School of Engineering coordinating undergrad research programs. Over the past 7 years, I have provided academic advising for the Division of Physical and Biological Sciences in Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Earth Science and I am now the Undergraduate Academic Advising Program Coordinator and Lead Student Academic Adviser for Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology department. 
     
    One of my favorite things to do is to be of service in the community I live in! I have volunteered all over the Santa Cruz community, in crisis intervention services, in community centers providing academic support to high school students applying to college and also mentoring community college students preparing to transfer, and with LIFETIME: Low-Income Families Empowerment through Education in the Bay Area (supporting student parents to complete 4-year degrees).  
     
    I value the philosophy of being a partner with students, assessing and identifying the barrier or challenge a student is experiencing, and working together to develop realistic solutions that students can easily access. My experience as a transfer student, a first-generation college student, and an alum at UCSC gives me a unique perspective on undergraduate advising. I understand from personal experience that quality advising offered to students directly impacts student retention and success.

  • Ganga Harrison (she/her)

  • Tribal Affiliation: Mescalero Apache​

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    My name is Ganga (gun-ga) Harrison. My maternal grandmother is Mescalero Apache and was born and raised in New Mexico before moving to Monterey county and starting a family. I was born and raised in California but have been disconnected from my indigenous roots. However, with the mentorship and support of other Native community members including AIRC Director, Rebecca Herandez, I am learning how intergenerational trauma manifests in our daily life and how to navigate the structural barriers that exist in our society.

    I graduated with a Master's in Social Work (MSW) from San Jose State University and a BA in Communication from the University of Hawaii at Hilo after transferring from Hawaii Community College. My career in Social Work, educational equity, and access led me to my role as a Senior Service Coordinator at the Disability Resource Center. Before I pursued my MSW I served in various roles at UCSC. My roles included MSW Case Management Intern with Slug Support, College Adviser at Crown College, Accessible Technology Coordinator, and Service Coordinator at the DRC.

    Having the experience of being a first-generation college student from a disadvantaged socio-economic background, I know the challenges and importance of providing guidance, support, and a safe space for students from non-traditional backgrounds when assisting them in a direct service role. I am dedicated to fostering a respectful partnership when providing support and resources that address immediate access needs. I also support students as a mentor to develop self-advocacy skills. I recognize that each individual comes from a distinct and unique background so I strive to treat others with respect, dignity, and empathy.

  • Rebecca Hernandez (she/her)

  • Tribal Affiliations: Mescalero, Warm Springs Apache

    rebecca-hernandez

    Rebecca Hernandez, Ph.D. (she/her), Warm Springs/Mescalero Apache, is the Community Archivist at the UCSC University Library where she partners with local stakeholders to promote the acquisition, preservation, and use of archival materials that document the communities of Santa Cruz County. She employs a variety of community-centered approaches to the work including, but not limited to, developing and advising on oral history projects, pursuing post-custodial collection models, and conducting community outreach. She earned an MA in American Indian Studies at UCLA and her Ph.D. in American Studies at the University of New Mexico. She conducts workshops, lectures, and presentations on a wide variety of topics, and her local community service which includes serving on the board of the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History and as a Commissioner on the Santa Cruz County Latino Affairs Commission.


  • Maya Woolfe (she/her)

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    Tribal Affiliation: Yaqui

    I am the Assistant Director for EOP STEM Advising. I oversee the EOP STEM counseling team and the various STEM initiatives. I currently coordinate the SEMILLA Scholars program, a first-year experience program for EOP STEM students, and supervise the peer mentor program. 

    Both my maternal grandparents are Yaqui and are descendants of the Yaqui people from the Sonoran desert in Mexico. My grandpa's parents died very young and he was put into an orphanage. Due to this, he lost all connection to his Yaqui language and culture. My grandpa raised my mother and her siblings so they didn't have an understanding of their indigenous culture and ancestry for much of their childhood. My family still continues to reclaim and relearn about our lineage. 

    I have lived in Santa Cruz for almost 11 years and love to be outside whether it's hiking, bike rides, going on neighborhood walks with my dog, and enjoying the redwoods and ocean. My interests include social justice, activism, wellness, self-care, plants, and health. I love working within EOP because I enjoy creating strong partnerships with students to ensure they thrive in their educational and personal goals. I am here to listen, hold space, practice empathy, and advocate for you so you feel supported to achieve all of your dreams at UCSC and beyond.