Betty Bonner, 17, and Ronnie Romo, 18 - both of the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian community - perform a scene from the Larissa FastHorse play “Average Family.”
Photo by Terria Smith
Walnut, Calif. - The Native American Youth Leadership Summer Pipeline to College may have ended on Sunday, July 29 but the friendships formed among its 18 participants will continue on.
“I have one word I wanted to point out and that’s ‘ohana’,” said eighteen-year-old Ronnie Romo of the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians during the program graduation. “That’s something I learned from our Hawaiian partners. Ohana means family, and I can honestly say you all are my family now.”
Noli Indian School 2012 valedictorian Elizabeth Rios, 17, holds her daughter.
Photo by Courtesy of Elizabeth Rios
Like many high schoolers at the top of their class Elizabeth Rios takes pride in her community, plays sports and participates in student government. What makes her different than other teens is that she’s also a mother.
“I think people judged me a lot,” said Rios, a 17-year-old tribal member from the Cahuilla Band of Indians. “I didn’t want them to think of me as just a teen mom. I was more than that.”