Sarah Palacios appointed as new NAP director

by Michaela Artavia-High | 9/20/18 2:40am

Though she was one of only a few Pueblo students at Stanford University, Sarah Palacios found a welcoming and supportive Native community. Now as the newly appointed director for the College’s Native American Program, she hopes to bring the same sense of community to Dartmouth.

As the College’s new Native American Program director, Palacios said she wants to continue to develop Dartmouth’s Native American Program, identifying strengths and addressing gaps in the program’s offerings following discussions with students, professors, staff and alumni.

“[I want to] make sure that students from the many diverse backgrounds of our Native and indigenous communities recognize that this is a place that can be their community — that is their community,” Palacios said. “This is a community that is here to support indigenous and Native students.”

Palacios’ experiences inform her passion for her work, she said, including her childhood in New Mexico with a large family.

“I came from a place where I had 50 first cousins around me at any point in time,” Palacios said. “When I came to college I struggled with being away from family — with being away from that community. It wasn’t until I connected with the Native community at Stanford that I discovered what I was lacking — what I needed to be able to thrive there as a student.”

As the new Native American Program director, Palacios said she hopes to create a welcoming community “so that Native students have the ability to be themselves.” Speaking to her own college experience, she noted the importance of feeling at home in a Native community.

“There is something wonderful in having a place where you go and you don’t have to explain that you’re native — where you don’t have to be the voice for an incredibly diverse group of people,” Palacios said.

Palacios is the first Native American Program director since Susan Taffe Reed was removed from the position in October 2015 due to controversy surrounding her Native heritage.

Taffe Reed currently works as an assistant dean of undergraduate students. At the time of her appointment, she was the president of the Eastern Delaware Nation, which is a non-profit organization, but not a federally or state recognized tribe.

The search for a new program director started in October 2017, when senior associate dean of student affairs Liz Agosto ’01 assembled a committee to select a new director. The search committee was composed of students, professors, staff and alumni involved in the Native American Program.

“[We were] really looking for a professional that was committed to Native American education and the Native American community,” Agosto said. “We wanted a director that was really going to focus on student needs and take [the Native American Program] to another level.”

The committee conducted several rounds of interviews to narrow the search pool. The remaining candidates were then hosted at the College for a final round, where they met with current students in the Native American Program and presented their vision for the program.

Following these interviews, Palacios was selected as the new director.

“When she met with the students, they really connected with her,” Agosto said, adding that Palacios will work with students to foster a strong community on campus.

According to Agosto, Palacios is “really able to articulate the needs of the Native student population.”

She added that Palacios’ selection was due to her strong capabilities as a leader and experience in organizing an office, including budgeting and community outreach with alumni and professors.

The Native Americans at Dartmouth executive board also issued a positive statement about Palacios’s appointment.

“As the Native Americans at Dartmouth Executive Board, we are excited to welcome Sarah Palacios into our Dartmouth community,” the board wrote. “We are delighted for the opportunity to collaborate as a board with the Native American Program as well as other Indigenous communities, organizations, and departments on and off campus for the betterment of the Native Students at this institution.”