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San Diego State Hires First Tribal Liaison

 Jacob Alvarado Waipuk is pictured in this undated photo.

Credit: Courtesy of Scott Hargrove/San Diego State University

Above: Jacob Alvarado Waipuk is pictured in this undated photo.

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San Diego County has the most Native American tribes in the country, with more than 24,000 Native Americans calling the county home. Now San Diego State University is focusing on better serving its Native American students.

Aired: February 18, 2020 | Transcript

San Diego State University has hired its first tribal liaison to focus on better serving and increasing its Native American student population.

Jacob Alvarado Waipuk, a San Pasqual Reservation resident and Kumeyaay Nation member, is an SDSU grad and is currently pursuing his joint doctorate in educational leadership at UC San Diego and Cal State San Marcos. In his role as the university's tribal liaison, Waipuk will work with the local tribes to recruit students and make sure they feel welcomed on campus.

"I'm just combining everything Kumeyaay, native, the way I was brought up and then also stuff from the universities to create a foundation here for our people here that we can succeed. My main thing is to create a sense of belonging here at SDSU, so our students feel welcomed," Waipuk said. "One of my main goals is to bring Kumeyaay representation here, to maybe put murals on the buildings so people will know where they are at, they are walking on Kumeyaay land and to acknowledge our people here."

RELATED: Study: California’s Native American Students Suspended, Expelled At Higher Rates

An estimated 100 Native American students attend SDSU. About 24,000 Native Americans call San Diego County home and the region has more reservations than any other county in the nation.

Waipuk joined Midday Edition on Tuesday to discuss his new role.

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