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Dwight Kala Lomayesva, III

American Indian Heritage Month: 2010 Honoree

Dwight Kala Lomayesva

Dwight Lomayesva, III , a member of the Hopi tribe of Arizona, has tirelessly served the local San Diego American Indian Community for more than 20 years. As Executive Director of the American Indian Recruitment Programs (AIR), his primary focus has been the expansion and improvement of educational opportunities for American Indian youth and communities in San Diego. The AIR programs created by Lomayesva, are some of the most successful and longest running programs targeting American Indian youth.

Lomayesva was the original drafter of the proposal that would become the AIR programs. In 1993, as an undergraduate student at San Diego State University he spearheaded the effort to develop an after-school program that would target American Indian youth from local San Diego county reservations and urban areas in an effort to promote their higher education opportunities. AIR students received both tutoring and mentoring by SDSU students. The model also included a cultural component aimed at instilling a sense of pride and increased self-esteem among the American Indian students. The model was adopted by the American Indian Advisory Committee under the SDSU department of American Indian Studies in late 1993 and the first AIR program meeting took place in the Fall semester of 1994.

The programs that were launched in San Diego State University have grown to include programs at USD, UCSD and Palomar College. With an unwavering commitment, Lomayesva has sustained the AIR programs’ mission of “the promotion and success of American Indians within education.”