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Meet Scholarship Winner Daniella James

Nov 06, 2023

First Generation college student and Native American food sovereignty activist Daniella James has been awarded a University Without Walls scholarship and a David A. Cole scholarship. Raised in Los Angeles and currently living in Boston, she is dedicated to helping her communities. Daniella is finishing her bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in business studies, while working as a radio producer and host at Tohono O'odham Community College and interning in business development at Fors Marsh. The photos below illustrate some of her volunteer efforts to share knowledge of Native American foods with the public.

Every adult student has a story. What's your story?

I am in college because I aspire to assist my Native American community on the business side of Native American food sovereignty organizations such as the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance, and to assist women in the business field as a director of inclusion at the James Beard Foundation. My largest career goal is to be a chief executive officer.

What does winning these scholarships mean to you?

This scholarship means that I am being emotionally supported by good people. It means that I am doing good work right now. I feel supported in my academic and career path. Sadly, there are times when people do not support my efforts. Yet this scholarship makes my heart open a bit more. When I feel discouraged, I will shake that feeling off and remind myself that I am surrounded by amazing people. Thank you for this scholarship. I am honored to learn and help others.

What is the best part about being a UWW Interdisciplinary Studies student?

The best part about being a UWW Interdisciplinary Studies student is being part of a college that resonates with diverse education, people, and life experiences. I feel comfortable in my first class. I believe I can contribute to the class in a professional and safe way. I am thoroughly appreciative of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

How do you balance work, school, and other responsibilities?

I balance items by creating schedules of priorities and life joys. I edit the schedule each day, week, and month, based on my energy availability, time availability, and priority status. I have also put a management timeframe on sleep, exercise, eating, and enjoyment in life.

What are your plans for the future—professionally and personally?

After getting my bachelor's degree from UWW, I aim to prepare for grad school needs, apply to grad schools, work part-time, breathe, volunteer for my communities, and continue to stay healthy. I will also continue my efforts in creating a business in Native American foods. 

What else do you want people to know about you, your family, and your story?

With joy, I will share something wonderful with you. I have taken 4 semesters of my ancestral Native American language, Ndeh. It is also called Southern Athapaskan. My family's language was taken away a few generations ago. My family knows a limited amount of words in Ndeh. As I was taking language courses, I taught my family each week what I was learning. We were all learning together. This is how I see the world: we are all learning together to help each other. Thank you for this opportunity to reflect with you.

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the person being featured and do not necessarily reflect those of the University.

University Without Walls scholarships exist thanks to the generosity of alumni and friends.