St. Lawrence University has named Brenda Papineau director of Native American Affairs. Papineau, a member of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, graduated from St. Lawrence with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 2002, a master’s in counseling and human development in 2006, and a master’s in educational leadership in 2015.
In addition to continuing her work as director of Community-Based Learning, Papineau will collaborate with students, faculty and staff, as well as offices across campus, to develop and strengthen relations with Indigenous communities locally, regionally, and nationally. She will also guide programming to support the enrollment, retention, and success of St. Lawrence’s Indigenous students. In addition, Papineau will serve as the University’s liaison with external organizations to identify opportunities for partnerships across communities.
“Brenda’s educational background and professional expertise as an adviser and mentor, combined with her personal connection to Indigenous communities, make her uniquely suited to this important work,” says Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs Karl Schonberg. “In fact, this new role formalizes much of the work she is already engaged in and provides more visibility for her leadership in advancing new initiatives.”
Papineau grew up in Akwesasne, New York, and still makes her home on the reservation. She first visited and got to know St. Lawrence as a young teen while participating in Upward Bound and other college-preparation experiences. She set her sights on attending St. Lawrence as a first-generation student and was able to do so, thanks to support from The Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), a partnership between the University and the New York State Education Department.
“What makes me excited about this new scope of work is the opportunity to make this campus even more welcoming to Indigenous students while at the same time serving as the official St. Lawrence ambassador to native communities near and far.”
– Brenda Papineau '02, M'06,'15
“What makes me excited about this new scope of work is the opportunity to make this campus even more welcoming to Indigenous students while at the same time serving as the official St. Lawrence ambassador to native communities near and far,” says Papineau, who is adviser to the Native American Student Alliance on campus. “I want to help raise awareness within our campus community and forge new connections with the Mohawk community at Akwesasne, as many folks still don't know that there’s a reservation just an hour’s drive away.”
Giving back to the next generation is what drives her dedication to this work, Papineau says: “My passion is in advising students. It makes my heart happy when I’m able to help my students find opportunities that lead them to great things. I consider myself a poster child of many opportunity programs, and I knew I wanted my work to be centered on helping students realize their potential, and empowering students to utilize campus resources to fully engage in their collegiate experience.”