Native Staff

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

    Tonya Alandzes (She/her)

  • Tribal Affiliation: Kiowa Tribe

    profile-tonyaHello. My name is Tonya Alandzes and I relocated to Santa Cruz from Oklahoma in January 2023. I am a proud member of the Kiowa Tribe which is located in Carnegie, Oklahoma. I am a direct descendant of Chief Lone Wolf. . I have two amazing adult children and a spoiled mutt named Hero. Along with my desire to share my own culture and learn from other Native Americans, I am also passionate about patient advocacy. I work with a group of women who were fundamental in creating the Netflix documentary The Bleeding Edge about medical devices. I am very excited for my journey here at UC Santa Cruz as I continue my career at Student Health Services as a Certified Medical Assistant.

  • Brenna Candelaria (she/her)

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    Tribal Affiliations: Karuk, Choctaw

    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.

  • Frank Dang (he/him/his)

  • Headshot photo of Frank smiling on a UCSC bridge wearing a blue shirt.

    Doyon Corporation / Tanana Chiefs Region

    Clinical IT Lead in Student Health Services. He came to UCSC from Sonoma in 2001 and never left. 

    Frank oversees all things Information Technology at Student Health and formerly worked in the University Library. 

    Some projects:

    Grateful Dead Archive Online
    COVID implementations for campus (testing, vaccination, compliance)

  • Ganga Harrison (she/her/hers)

  • Tribal Affiliation: Mescalero Apache​

    Hello! My name is Ganga (gun-ga) Harrison, pronouns: she/her/hers. I serve in the role of the DRC Housing Coordinator. I am passionate about supporting students with the navigation of structural barriers that exist in our society and in higher education. I graduated with a Master's in Social Work (MSW) from San Jose State University and a BA in Communication from University of Hawaii at Hilo after transferring from Hawaii Community College. My career in Social Work, educational equity and access led me to my career 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, DRC Accessible Technology Coordinator, DRC Service Coordinator and DRC Assistant Director of Accommodations. 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 access needs. 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, 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.

  • Autumn Johnson (she/her)

  • Tribal Affiliation: Oglala Lakota from Pine Ridge Reservation


    Hi folks! My family is Oglala Lakota from Pine Ridge reservation, I serve in the legacy of my grandma Ann Sherman and grandpa Billy Siers, both who attended Holy Rosary Mission (now Red Cloud Indian School).

    I am a UCSC alum and serve as the Director of the African American Resource & Cultural Center (AARCC). I love connecting with folks and learning about their interests, getting outside, and watching Star Trek!

  • Lydia Iyeczohua Zendejas

  • Tribal Affiliations: Purépecha, Tarahumara


    Lydia Iyeczohua Zendejas started her spiritual Mexica path with danza azteca 23 years ago in New York City! Since then she has been active in learning about her own, as well as others’, native ceremonial traditions. Her family lineage is of Purépecha from Michoacan, Mexico and Tarahumara from Chihuahua, Mexico. 

    She has raised her daughter, Ameyalli, in this spiritual way of life where she went through a Mexica coming of age ceremony, Xilonen, in 2018-2019. Iyeczohua is a member of Calpulli Tonalehqueh since 2015 and plays an active role in leadership.

    Iyeczohua’s professional experience in higher education for 26 years has been focused in successfully advocating for first-generation and educationally disadvantaged college students. For over 15 years, serving in a variety of roles, she has flourished as an equity-minded student-centered professional. Since May 2020 she has had the privilege to serve as a Project Director with the HSI Initiatives where she leads the implementation and management of a Title V Part A grant, and previously led a Title III STEM grant. In her role, she gets to work on campus-wide innovative interventions with multiple stakeholders to ensure that the campus, as a HSI, is serving their students. She earned her B.A. in Ethnic Studies at UC San Diego, her M.A. in Higher Education Administration at Teachers College, and is currently in an Ed.D. program at UC Davis.

  • Maya Woolfe (she/her/hers)

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    Tribal Affiliation: Yaqui

    I am the Assistant Director of Student Achievement in the Humanities Division. I advise Humanities Divisional Programs such as the Middle Eastern and North African Studies Minor and the Humanizing Technology Certificate program. I also support student recruitment and retention efforts in the division. 

    My grandmother is Yaqui and we are descendants of the Yaqui people from the Sonoran desert in Mexico. After my great-grandparents came to California from Mexico, my family lost all connection to their Yaqui language and culture. My family still continues to reclaim and relearn our lineage. 

    I love to be outside whether it's hiking, 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 at UCSC 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.