Carmen Lopez | Executive Director

Tribal Nation(s): Navajo Nation

Education: Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Ed.M. & Dartmouth College, B.A in History modified with Native American Studies

Bio | Q&A

I am a citizen of the Navajo Nation and my family is from the Forest Lake area of Black Mesa, Arizona and I also grew up in Farmington, New Mexico. I am of the Bitter Water Clan born for the Anglo clan; my maternal grandfather’s clan is Many Goats and my paternal grandfather’s clan is Anglo.

While attending my tribal high school, Navajo Preparatory, I had the opportunity to attend a boarding school in Massachusetts called Cushing Academy where I ended up graduating from. Attending these two schools shaped my personal and professional outlook on indigenous and western education. My family and tribal school molded me with cultural knowledge shaping my core values and Cushing provided a pre-college preparatory experience. Basketball and volleyball were a big part of my life growing up and I ended up playing on the first Women’s Varsity Volleyball team at Dartmouth College. I graduated from Dartmouth with a B.A. in History modified with Native American Studies.

HS Teaching: While at Dartmouth I also took several classes in the Education Department under Professors Andrew Garrod and Robert Binswanger. In my junior year I was awarded a Rockefeller Brothers Fellowship which encouraged underrepresented minorities to pursue a career as a teacher and provided a grant to pursue a Master’s in Education. After four years of college life on the east coast, I missed home and returned to New Mexico to begin my teaching career at the newly formed Native American Preparatory School located in Rowe, NM (as an aside, NAPS is where I met Dr. Whitney Laughlin, who was the college counselor and founder of College Horizons at NAPS). After a few years of teaching, my fellowship helped nudge me back into school. I earned a Master’s of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education creating my own individualized program combining courses in Administration, Planning and Social Policy and Teaching and Learning. Following graduate school, I took a position at my high school alma mater, Cushing Academy and returned to the classroom to hone my teaching and get administrative experience.

Higher Ed. Administration: My next career jump was into higher education administration. From 2003-2008, I served as the Executive Director of the Harvard University Native American Program overseeing the operation of a university-wide Interfaculty Initiative which focused on indigenous recruitment and student support services; interdisciplinary teaching and research projects on Native issues; and community outreach. While there, I also served as a member of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Committee on Ethnic Studies, The Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations, Admissions Reader for the Harvard Kennedy School’s Master’s of Public Policy, and a Reader and Site Visitor for the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development’s Honoring Nations Program. While at HUNAP, I reconnected with Dr. Whitney Laughlin we helped co-host the College Horizons at Harvard Programs in 2005 and 2007.

College Horizons: After spending almost twenty years on the east coast, I longed for home and wanted to raise my children closer to family and to Navajo homelands. In 2009 I assumed the directorship of College Horizons. I felt this was a great professional opportunity that combined my love of teaching high school students with my higher education work in admissions, student services, and teaching and research. I also took to heart the philosophy of Nation Building and wanted to directly serve students, families and Tribal communities. 

I volunteer my time on the board for the Center for Civic Policy, on Dartmouth’s Presidential Commission on Financial Aid, and on the Rio Rancho School District’s Native American Parent Association. I also serve on several committee and work groups including the Amherst College CBO Advisory Board, the Coalition Counselor Advisory Committee, a reader for the Coca Cola Scholarship, and the University of Redland’s Partnership for Native Students Steering Committee.

Favorite Books: The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger; Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis Series, Light in August by William Faulkner; and I’m re-reading books, graphic novels and comics with my children and Calvin & Hobbs still cracks me up!

Favorite Movies: Star Wars; Hayao Miyazaki’s Mononoke Hime; captivating dramas/mysteries like Endeavour or Agatha Christie’s Poirot Series with David Suchet.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? I like to go for walks along the beautiful New Mexico Bosque trails, play games with my children and enjoy their imagination and silliness, lately I’ve been chasing a new kitten around the house, and to relax I appreciate pulling weeds (yes!) and gardening.

If you could have dinner with any fictional character, who would it be? During this pandemic time, I would love to hang out with some fun and funny people: Maya Rudolf as the Judge in The Good Place; Mandy Kaling’s Mindy Lahiri  from The Mindy Project; Dolly Parton’s Doralee Rhodes from 9 to 5, and those hilarious, onery and wise Grandmothers in Louise Erdrich’s Round House.

Favorite Memory from a College Horizons program: This is hard, I have too many favorite memories! Overall, I love the moment when we come together as one community who care about one another’s well-being. When students and faculty have mutual trust and respect. When friendships blossom and students are smiling, laughing and joking. When students walk around campus confidently claiming spaces. And on the final night, I love when everyone lingers around the common rooms hanging out past midnight just enjoying one another’s company and there I am trying to shoo them back to their rooms at 2 in the morning to pack their luggage! 

Mikaela Crank | Scholars Pathway Program Director

Tribal Nation(s): Navajo Nation

Education: Arizona State University B.A. / Harvard Graduate School of Education Ed.M

Bio | Q&A

Mikaela Crank is a citizen of the Navajo Nation and is from Dennehotso, Arizona. She is of the Towering House and Folded Arms clans. Her grandfather’s clans are Salt and Red House. Mikaela is a College Horizons and Graduate Horizons alumna. She has returned to College Horizons to become the Scholars Pathway Program Director and lead the organization’s first student transition and retention program. She received her B.A in Communication with a minor in American Indian Studies from Arizona State University and her Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Mikaela started her career in secondary education as a Title VII liaison for Mesa Public School’s Native American Education Program and as a faculty member with Phillips Exeter Academy Summer School. She also has served as a student advisor for the Gila River Indian Community Tribal Education Department. In Mikaela’s more recent work with higher education, she was a program specialist and lecturer II at the University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Center with the Center for Native American Health and Stanford University’s Office of Undergraduate Admission. Currently, she is serving as a board member with We Are Healers, an organization focused on Native recruitment into the health sciences, and a participant of the New Mexico Women of Color Nonprofit Leadership Initiative. Her area of specialization is college access, Native outreach, advocacy and student support. She resides in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

Favorite Books: Anything by Louise Erdrich!

Favorite Movies/Shows: The Crown, Cobra Kai and 50 First Dates

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? Hiking, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.

If you could have dinner with any fictional character or celebrity, who would it be? Oprah or Michelle Obama

Favorite Memory from a College Horizons program: In 2015, I had the opportunity to host College Horizons at Stanford University and got to experience the behind the scenes to running the program as a host partner. There were many surprises, but it was fun to see the program come into fruition.

Christine Suina | Program Coordinator

Tribal Nation(s): Pueblo de Cochiti

Education: Colorado College, B.A. in Anthropology/Minor in Southwest Studies

Bio | Q&A

Christine M. Suina is from Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico. Christine’s involvement in College Horizons dates back to 1998 volunteering for CH. In 2004, Christine became the program assistant and office manager. Christine jokes she is the OG of the CH team. Prior to College Horizons, Christine has also worked with a number of organizations including Eight Northern Indian Pueblos’ Talent Search Program, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), and the Daniels Fund. Christine has a daughter in high school.

Favorite Books: The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Favorite Movies: Whale Rider, Pump up the Volume, To Sir, with Love

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? Spending time with my family, cooking, baking and crafting with my daughter and sister.

If you could have dinner with any fictional character, who would it be? Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games.

Favorite Memory from a College Horizons program: It’s hard for me to pick one memory from the 30+ programs I have attended. One memory that sticks out is the 2018 UPenn program with the creation of the Flawless (remix) video. The small groups’ creativity and participation of students and faculty resulted in an amazing video. It’s an example the special and remarkable talent of our faculty and students to create something so memorable in a couple of days. College Horizons, Ooww!

Dinée Dorame | Associate Director of College Horizons

Tribal Nation(s): Navajo Nation

Education: Yale University, B.A. Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies

Bio | Q&A

Dinée is a citizen of the Navajo Nation and grew up in Albuquerque, NM. Her family is originally from Ft. Defiance, AZ. She is a 2009 College Horizons alumna. Dinée is Tábąąhá (Water’s Edge clan) born for Naakai Dine’é (Mexican People clan). Her maternal grandfather’s clan is Tótsohníí (Big Water clan) and her paternal grandfather’s clan is Naakai Dine’é. Prior to College Horizons, she served as an Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions and the Native American Outreach and Recruitment Coordinator in the Yale Office of Undergraduate Admissions. At Yale, she dedicated her time to supporting Native students as a first-year academic adviser and fellow for Ezra Stiles Residential College. Dinée also volunteers her time as an At-Large Delegate for the Yale Alumni Association and as an application reader/evaluator for several national scholarships.

Favorite Books: Heartberries by Therese Mailhot and Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor. My childhood favorite was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg!

Favorite Movies: Space Jam, Love & Basketball, and Finding Nemo

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? Running and spending time outdoors. Otherwise, you can usually find me curled up with a good book, listening to a podcast, playing PokémonGo, or hanging out with my partner and our two Schnoodle pups!

If you could have dinner with any fictional character, who would it be? Leslie Knope from the TV Show, Parks & Rec!

Favorite Memory from a College Horizons program: Even though I participated in the program as a high school student and have so many great memories from that experience, my favorite memory was the first traditional night I attended as a CH counselor/faculty member. The students from the very first group I worked with as a college professional had such a huge impact on my life. I was the Essay Specialist for Small Group #7 and the students had shared their stories and hearts with me all week as I helped them craft their college essays. It was so fun to cheer them on at traditional night as they went on stage to dance, sing, and speak their Native languages. Our small group faculty was screaming so loud for each student and we felt like proud parents!

Amelia Caté | Program Associate

Tribal Nation(s): Acoma/Santo Domingo Pueblo

Education: Colorado College, B.A. Sociology

Bio | Q&A

Amelia is from Acoma and Santo Domingo Pueblo, New Mexico. She is a 2008 and 2009 College Horizons and 2014 Graduate Horizons alumna. Amelia started working for College Horizons as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer before she joined the staff full-time in 2016.

Favorite Movies: I love too many movies! But, here’s a few: October Sky, Cinderella Man and Toy Story!

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? Spending time with my family and being a “dog sister” to our Pomeranian-Maltese mix! Music is my passion and getaway in life, so I enjoy traveling to concerts, collecting albums and dancing to choreographies. My guilty pleasure is binge watching Netflix shows and YouTube videos!

If you could have dinner with any fictional character, who would it be? Sung Deok Mi from Her Private Life.

Favorite Memory from a College Horizons program: I will always remember my first College Horizons program as both CH staff and a faculty member (counselor). It was very different than when I participated as a student, so seeing the program from behind the scenes and how it all comes together was a great experience for me! I was also in Small Group #4, and I will never forget our amazing small group leader, faculty and students I worked with at that program. It was my first glimpse into the current journey I’m in now and I couldn’t ask for a better group to start it off!

Kendall Harvey | Scholars Fellow & Program Associate

Tribal Nation(s): Navajo Nation

Education: Columbia University, B.A. Ethnicity & Race Studies, Education Studies

Bio | Q&A

Kendall is Tódich’íi’nii (Bitter Water clan) and born for Áshįįhí (Salt People clan). His maternal grandfather’s clan is Kinyaa’áanii (Towering House clan) and his paternal grandfather’s clan is Tó’aheedlíinii (Water Flowing Together clan). He is from Dziłná’oodiłii, a Navajo community in New Mexico. He is a 2013 College Horizons and 2019 Graduate Horizons alumnus. He completed two internships with the Scholars Pathway Program in 2018 and 2019. After graduating from Columbia in 2019, he joined the College Board as a Program Associate in the College Graduate Rotation Program. He completed rotations in two divisions where he focused on increasing the visibility of Indigenous students in College Board’s programs and services.

Favorite Albums: Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday, Paramore – Brand New Eyes, Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls, and Missy Elliott – This Is Not A Test!

Favorite Movies: She’s the Man, ATL, and The Devil Wears Prada

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? Running, scrolling endlessly on Tiktok & Instagram, and creating playlists. Above all, I love spending time with family and close friends.

If you could have dinner with any fictional character, who would it be? Raven Baxter from my #1 childhood show, That’s So Raven!

Favorite Memory from a College Horizons program: I attended the 2013 CollegeHorizons program at New York University. My favorite memory was walking the New York City streets between sessions. It was my first time in NYC and on the east coast, in general. I was feeling my indie coming-of-age film fantasy walking around downtown Manhattan as the group walked from the dorms to Bobst Library to our small group room on Waverly Place. The whole experience provided me the assurance that I, as a kid from the rez, could make it in the Big Apple.