IAIA - Institute of American Indian Arts

                          New Student Ambassador Leading the Way


When you meet Mildred Raphaelito, it’s hard not to mirror her expression — her smile is infectious. And the 25-year-old senior from Vanderwagen, N.M., who became IAIA’s Student Ambassador for the 2012-2013 academic year, wears that smile whenever she’s saying hello to faculty, students and staff.

“I try and talk to everyone on campus,” Raphaelito (Navajo) said.

Mildred Raphaelito 2012 Student Ambassador

Raphaelito ran for Student Ambassador after seeing some of her friends, including Mckeon Dempsey, Crystal Worl and alumna Joanne Morales, become Student Ambassadors. Working in the Student Success Center also helped her decide to go into this public service.

“I really liked working in the Student Success Center,” she said. “I really like working with other students … I also like helping people out and making sure everyone is OK.”

As ambassadors, students represent IAIA by creating and strengthening positive relationships with the greater community through educational and service activities. Applicants must have a cumulative 3.0 GPA and must be a second year, full-time student in good social standing with the Institute, with no disciplinary action in the previous year. Ambassadors receive a $250 cash award, as well as $750 to assist with travel, wardrobe or other related expenses.

Raphaelito, a studio arts major who is minoring in art history and Indigenous Liberal Studies, so far has attended the 2012 Benefit Scholarship Auction and Gala and aided in being master of ceremonies for a few campus events. With a full workload, especially in Indigenous Liberal Studies, she’s plotting her activities carefully. Next year she plans to go with recruiters to visit schools and encourage Native youth to go to college, especially in her community.

“Once students get out of high school they are tired of school and they think they are done. I want to encourage them to go to college and come to IAIA,” she said. “Here you have time to talk to instructors one on one. If you have questions, there is always someone there to answer your questions – teachers, faculty and staff. There are some really amazing people here that really strive for people to go on to finish their bachelors or get an associates or masters degrees.”

In addition to being IAIA’s ambassador, Raphaelito is also president of the Culture Club, a campus organization that raises money to take club members to different geographic regions to experience a variety of people and cultures. This academic year the club is going to Japan.

IAIA’s ambassador also serves as a role model for students, promoting the value of higher education to current and future IAIA students.  The position is a leadership role within the IAIA community requiring professionalism and ease in engaging IAIA’s various constituents.

“Milly has been a strong role model for students as an Orientation Leader for new incoming freshmen and transfer students and as the President of the IAIA Culture Club for the past two academic years,” IAIA’s Dean of Students Carmen Henan said. “She has engaged prospective students on campus tours and has highlighted the Institute’s degree programs.”