Keshshi! Ho’ Alfred Delena le’shina. Hom annodi: K’yak’yali:kwe deyan Dowa:kwe a:wan ch’ale. Hom a:łashshina: a:chi Vanessa dap Larry Delena le’shina. Ho’ Shiwi.
Translation: Hello! My name is Alfred Delena. My clans are Eagle and Child of the Corn. My parents are Vanessa and Larry Delena. I am Zuni.
As a sign of respect in my culture, this is the proper way of introducing myself (formally) to you in my Native language, Zuni.
I am currently a 5th year undergraduate student, majoring in Human Biology and minoring in Education at Stanford University. This academic year, I have also been writing an honors thesis through the Graduate School of Education’s interdisciplinary program.
My thesis, which is also my project for the Emerging Scholars Fellowship, focuses on exploring the social, emotional, and mental well-being of university undergraduates. More specifically, my research seeks to understand what students of color at a highly selective university believe are the factors that affect their general sense of well-being.
My interest in this topic stems a lot from my own experience of being a student of color, who also happens to come from a first-generation and low-income background. The journey for me, much like this project, has gone through an evolution of its own. From humble beginnings to blessed opportunities, I have been so grateful to forge a path that couples my experiences and passions together with my vision for helping create a world that reflects and reconnects back to its humanity.
From being caught between a battle of two worlds—a world that I had come from, a world that I had only known my entire life until I had to enter this new world, a world that I thought was reserved only for the rich and elite, a world that I thought didn’t have a place for someone like me—to maintaining peace and balance between both worlds. From wandering through deserts of depression and desolation, feeling lost and alone, to stumbling upon oases of light and hope.
This journey continues to inspire me to help create a positive change with regard to promoting the value of well-being and positive mental health on the college campus for diverse students.
It is through these experiences that I am humbled and honored to be doing this work. For I see this endeavor as a big undertaking and as something bigger than myself. In doing this project and writing this thesis, I hope to listen and to understand to order to better serve as a contribution to help start a campus-wide conversation about positive mental health.