Alexus Uentillie

Yáát’ééh,

Shí éí Alexus Uentillie yiníshyé. Tó’aheedlíinii nishłíí. Hashtl’ishnii báshishchíín. Tsenabahiłnii dashicheii. Kinyaa’áanii dashinalí.

Why did you come to Willamette—and why major in English?

I decided to come to Willamette because I thought it was a good distance away from home compared to the other schools I applied to. One was too close, the other too far, and Willamette was in the middle. I also chose Willamette because I felt they were interested in the things I was doing. As a senior in high school, I won a writing contest and Willamette congratulated me.

I decided to major in English with a creative writing concentration because it is a subject that I have always loved. Growing up, I was always reading, and, as I grew older, I realized that I was decent in writing. I won two writing contests during my senior year of high school, so I figured I must be doing something right. It was the second contest that made me realize just how much of an impact words could have on a person. I thought if I was able to make an impact through my writing, then that is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

What advice do you have for current or prospective WU students (and especially English majors)?

My advice is to be involved with what you are passionate about, but to not overwhelm yourself. I believe that it is important to take care of yourself, especially if you happen to become homesick. It is important to build a support system and to do things that you enjoy so that being away from home or the workload does not break you. I also think it is super important to keep up with the work, but procrastination plagues almost everyone. So, I usually accept that, yes, I procrastinated, and then I move on and continue to keep working.

What activities are you involved in outside the classroom?

I am the President of Native and Indigenous Student Union, Historian for Alianza (dedicated to promoting the Latin@ culture and empowering the Latin@ community), a mentor for Mosiacs in the Office of Multicultural Affairs, and I used to be involved with Best Buddies (dedicated to forming friendships with individuals who have developmental disabilities). I am also a tutor with the Chemawa Indian School Partnership Program, and I work with Native American Programs as a department assistant.

You recently traveled to North Dakota to take part in protests opposing the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, right? What was that like?

My trip to North Dakota was very captivating. The first night of being there was crazy. It was the night when the water protectors were being sprayed with water cannons, shot with rubber bullets, and maced. It is so different to see these actions in person. It really had an impact on me, especially since the media portrays the protectors as a menacing riot. In reality they are nice people who, during all these acts of hate, managed to have fun by sledding down a small hill with ice on it—ice made by water that was meant to harm them. Despite the first night, the rest of the days were full of love and caring. Strong relationships were built with the water protectors there. I did not want to leave and I wish I could go back.

So what’s the future got in store for you?

I am interested in writing screenplays and books. My work will mostly focus on Native history and culture, and I want to make movies that showcase the mostly untold history of America. I also want to write about and with underrepresented people. Misrepresentation and underrepresentation is a problem within current society, and I want to be a part of dismantling that.