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Jolene Fernandez


Jolene Fernandez

“UWP showed me how unique perspective is as a Native woman and broadened my view of the world.”

Up with People was an important part of my life. I didn’t have the same foundation as everyone else. I come from two different Native American tribes, which made me frequently question my identity. My mother is from Elem Pomo Colony, California and my father is from the Navajo Nation, where I grew up.

Withouta strong lineage and traditional wisdom, I had to find my bearing by myself. Many times I struggled until I traveled with Up with People’s international program. The only Native American in the large group, I walked in with apprehension, only to be met with compassion, friendliness, respect for my unique perspective. UWP gave me a window to my myself and the world; learning to shed my perceptions and broadening my views; a life changing experience and the confidence to find my Voice, connections and friends across the globe.

Most of all, I found the community to address challenges I saw in underdeveloped communities. I am using my experience to find solutions and be an inspiration for my tribal lands. I hope to inspire more Native youth to explore and find their Voice to be global changemakers.