2019-2020 Birdwoman Scholar Spotlight: Shurene Premo, MSW Candidate, San Diego State University

The Birdwoman Scholarship is a monetary grant awarded to Native American/Native Alaskan master’s or bachelor’s social work degree candidates in California. Birdwoman Scholarship recipients in the past have worked or volunteered in both public and nonprofit agency settings.

For the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting each of our scholarship recipients for 2019.

Shurene Premo

Submitted by Shurene Premo

Hakenna Mum, (how are you all)! Ne nani-haant (my name is) Shurene Premo. Ne Tosawihi So-soni (I am from the Tosawihi band of Western Shoshone). I also represent the Newe Numa (Shoshone Paiute) Nation, and I am originally from Tokka Pati (Duck Valley) Nevada of the Great Basin Territory. Ne maokka SDSU hka sekuteyu. Ne ma matetenksi Shoshone Paiute Tribe (SPT), Duck Valley Indian Reservation (DVIR), Katteko’i hiinhto’i. Ne naweneni temasa’i hiinhto’i. I am going to school at San Diego State University. I plan to return to the Shoshone Paiute Tribal Nation on the Duck Valley Indian Reservation after I finish to help my community.

Currently, I am in my Masters of Social Work program, and my concentration is in Direct Practice. I am in the one-year Advanced Standing Program as well as a part of the Title IV-E Child Welfare program. My expected graduation date is May 2020. At the same time, I am also working towards my Licensed Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LAADC) certification through the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP), which I will be finishing after graduation in May. I am also the Vice President of the Indigenous Social Work Alliance (ISWA) at SDSU and the chairperson for the Native American Council through NASW, CA Chapter. I am very excited to be working with both organizations, and I plan on making this semester a memorable one.

A highlight and achievement from last semester was writing a brief write up for my Social Work 744 Advanced Seminar in Direct Practice with Individuals class. My professor Dr. Rasmussen Ph.D., LCSW, allowed our class to do a write up for the California Coalition on Sexual Offending (CCOSO) newsletter for Winter 2019. Surprisingly, my paper was one of the papers that were chosen to be published. I chose a significant topic to myself personally as well as to our Native American communities in Indian Country on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) epidemic. I believe that this paper has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with bringing awareness to the injustices we as Native people face! I am humbled as well as honored to bring awareness to the MMIWG. It is my Creators plan, not mine. Creator, use me to help all Native people!

https://ccoso.org/sites/default/files/Perspectives%20Winter%202020%20CCOSO.pdf , Page 12.

In the future, after I have acquired my degrees, I plan on returning home to the Duck Valley Indian Reservation, where I will work with our Tribal Social services program as well as help create an Indigenous Healing Center for Native people. I feel as if one of the barriers on our reservation is this alcohol and drug epidemic. I have lost too many family members to count from this sickness. As a Shoshone Paiute woman and in my childhood, I have witnessed over and over the impact of substance abuse on families and children. Within most Native communities, we have an unmanageable epidemic with drugs and alcohol, which is correlated with historical trauma and after sweeps through families and transforms into intergenerational trauma.

Many of our people are dying of these man-made substances. We see first, second, and third generations being wiped out from the destruction that alcohol and drugs bring to our people. My ultimate dream is to have my own practice where I can help our Indigenous people throughout Indian Country with addictions through counseling methods; however, most importantly, I will be braiding it together with healing through our language, sacred ceremonies, and our Newe-Numa culture. I want to use our ancient tools and traditions for healing, as well as the education I worked for many years to acquire. I believe this will be a life-turning change for many. The time is now to preserve and continue our sacred teachings to pass down to future generations. I visualize this as my dream, and I want to make my people proud. I want to be a positive influence and healer for our people. Through the blessing of our people, I will turn this dream into reality.

I want to express my deepest gratitude and respect to NASW-CA for the 2020 Birdwoman Native American scholarship. Thank you for your support of all Indigenous Students striving for higher education. I hope that I make you all proud, and I am grateful to take my education to heights I have only dreamed of, which are coming true. I do this for my Native people across Indian Country, as well as my Newe Numa community in Duck Valley, and lastly, I continue my education so that one day I may return home to help my people as well as break generational curses that were meant to destroy my people as a whole. Our generation will be the ones to bring healing for future generations to come. Ose.

Interested in applying for next year?Applicants must be a member of NASW or join NASW to apply.
Graduate and undergraduate students must be enrolled in a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited school of social work in California.

If applying as an undergraduate, you must be in your senior year with a declared social work major. If applying as a graduate student, you must be enrolled or accepted into a MSW program starting in the fall. Previous scholarship recipients are welcome to apply again with the understanding that applicants with no history of receiving this scholarship will have priority.

Application Deadline: October 31

Please apply here: http://www.naswca.org/?page=NativeAmericanApp
Email all attachments or inquiries to membership.naswca@socialworkers.org