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UNITY Youth Spotlight: Alyssa R. Franklin

Written by:  Regina A. Jones, Alyssa’s Advisor and Assistant Director of the Native Student Program at Syracuse University

To me, being an environmental ambassador comes along with several responsibilities to my community, the global indigenous community, and all creation as a whole. One duty of being an environmental ambassador would be to set goals to attain based on what the problem is, where the problem is, who/what is causing the problem, etc. Another responsibility that I believe would come along with being an environmental ambassador is connecting with people to share and link knowledge and ideas across field of knowledge, such as modern science and traditional ecological knowledge to inform and mobilize communities across the globe. A third aspect of being an environmental ambassador would be to develop processes, programs, and/or initiatives to reach goals created to aim towards a more environmentally sustainable way of life for all people now and in the future.” said Alyssa Franklin.

Alyssa is a member of the Seneca Nation, one of the six Nations that comprise the Haudenosaunee or the Iroquois Confederacy, as they are more commonly known as. The Haudenosaunee are the Indigenous people of New York State, including parts of Canada and Pennsylvania. The five other Nations are the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Tuscarora Nations. I am a member of the Oneida Nation. Alyssa is a traditional member of her Nation. Attending higher education in a predominantly white institution can be very challenging for our Indigenous students, especially while balancing their traditional ways with western education. Alyssa is a true role model for other Haudenosaunee students who follow in her footsteps at Syracuse University.

The Haudenosaunee are innate stewards of Mother Earth. Each day and whenever we are gathered together, whether few or many, we give thanksgiving for everything that the Creator has given us for a good life. I believe that this integral part of our being is to remember that our duty while we are here is to care for the natural world. This insures that those that come after us will have the same good life that we enjoy, with all the gifts the Creator gave us. Alyssa embodies our traditional ways; including, but not limited to, her care for the natural world. From recycling to conservation, Alyssa is a conscientious steward of Mother Earth. She does this in a calm, quiet, respectful manner. I truly believe that Allyssa would host a genuinely meaningful community project to promote environmental stewardship. Another part of our being is to practice extended family living. We live in communities, not as silo entities. This makes community building on our Nations a step above new beginnings. Alyssa is known and respected in her community.

“Within my local community, there are many ways in which environmental concerns are being addressed. One way is through our agriculture department. Food security is the key to many issues and is an important component in addressing environmental concerns at a local as well as global level. Our agriculture department plants and harvests all organic, traditional seeds without using fertilizers that would cause any negative impacts. Planting is done by hand, because of the inevitable harm that would be caused by heavy machinery. Having a sustainable food program, with time, will lead to many more positive environmental outcomes, including cleaner waters, cleaner air, and healthy food.”  – Alyssa Franklin

Alyssa develops relationships quite easily. This was very apparent when she helped care for the children of one of our adult students. She helped to make the children feel welcomed and helped to keep them busy while their mother was in class. She also volunteers for the student panel portion of our Native Outreach Days, where we invite potential Haudenosaunee students to campus to learn more about the Haudenosaunee Promise Scholarship and college. Alyssa adds so much of herself to our community here at Syracuse University. I am very grateful that our paths have crossed and I have enjoyed getting to know her.

Alyssa is a good student. She spends much of her time outside of classes at our space in the building at 113 Euclid Ave. She studies diligently and interacts with her peers, laughs plenty, and is a good friend. She is honest and I witness other students’ confidence in her friendship.