25 Under 25 San Diego Reflections – UNITY, Inc.

25 Under 25 San Diego Reflections


The five-day national conference included the honoring of UNITY’s third class of “25 Under 25 National Native Youth Leaders” sponsored by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. Learn more about them and their platforms for the upcoming year!

“Every year I come to UNITY is a new and exciting experience. This year in particular was meaningful to me because I got to participate in the conference as a 25 Under 25 honoree which opened up so many new opportunities for me to learn, to grow and to meet with other amazing Native youth” stated Audri Mitchell, Navajo. The entire 2018 cohort shared their experiences as they reflected upon what they will take home with them.

Awardee Lauren Shelly Pina shared her reflections: “Like always, the National UNITY conference was very moving and motivational. It felt amazing knowing I was taking part in the biggest native youth gathering in the country. It brought tears to my eyes knowing there are so many youth out there with very big dreams and some are accomplishing their dreams. It was a great conference and I highly recommend for native youth across the world. I look forward to next year and the years to follow. This organization played a big role in making me the leader I am today and I cannot thank them enough!”

The Awardees had the opportunity to work closely with other youth as they served as Peer Leaders volunteering throughout the Conference. “The conference was a great way for me to connect to youth across the nation and my own organization of Native brothers and sisters in our fraternities and sororities.”said Sky Wildcat, “I look forward to growing more with them, and I’m glad we had this opportunity to meet!” Maddie Lamb, also was inspired by her peers, as she shared “I enjoyed learning about the accomplishments of the youth around me and seeing the potential for even bigger things in the future.”

The group of young leaders were able to do more than just accept their awards, their experience gave them the opportunity to learn and grow from those around them. As Vonica LaPlant  explained, “the conference gave young youth leaders and I an opportunity to spark into an action and to empower a change within our communities at the conference.” What was truly magical about “the conference wasn’t just a one time event, but motivated us into action to change the world around us through our different platforms” awardees explained.

Nancy Deere-Turney, Muscogee, reflected on her gratitude for the experience: “I have gained so much from UNITY. I have gained friendships, skills, and knowledge on issues bigger than just my tribe. I most enjoyed the networking between all the youth. UNITY provides the space and opportunity for our Native Youth to support each other no matter how far apart we are.”

The 25 Under 25 program celebrates the achievements of Native youth leaders under the age of 25, who embody UNITY’s core mission and exudes living a balanced life developing their spiritual, mental, physical and social well-being. UNITY thanks all 25 awardees and is eager to see what they will accomplish in the upcoming year.

The 2018 Class of “25 Under 25 Native Youth Leaders” are:

  • Katherine Carmain, 16, Rosebud Sioux, Texas
  • Sapphire Carter, 24, Chippewa Cree, Montana
  • Shasta Dazen, 24, White Mountain Apache Tribe, Arizona
  • Nancy Deere-Turney, 23, Muscogee Creek Nation, Oklahoma
  • Jay Fife, 18, Muscogee Creek Nation, Oklahoma
  • Ashleigh Fixico, 21, Muscogee Creek Nation, Oklahoma
  • Frederick Gipp, 24, Apache Tribe, Oklahoma
  • Tristan Joe, 18, Navajo Nation, New Mexico
  • Maddie Lamb, 19, Muscogee Creek Nation, Oklahoma
  • Vonica LaPlante, 17, Mandan, Hidatsa Arikara, North Dakota
  • Jayden Lim, 16, Pomo, California
  • Faith Long, 19, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, North Carolina
  • Xavier Medina, 19, Pascua Yaqui, Arizona
  • Elwood McClellan, Jr., 18, Iowa Tribe, Oklahoma
  • Audri Mitchell, 19, Colorado River Indian Tribes, Arizona
  • Tashoni Morales, 18, Yachi-Tokut/Te-Moak/Western Shoshone, California
  • Maritza Nuglene-Gomez, 18, Inupiat, Alaska
  • Lauren Shelly Pina, 18, San Carlos Apache, Arizona
  • Savanna Rilatos, 20, Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, Oregon
  • Lance Sanchez, 23, Tohono O’odham Nation, Arizona
  • Mariah Jordan Sharpe, 20, Colorado River Indian Tribes, Arizona
  • Kellian Staggers, 17, Navajo Nation, New Mexico
  • David Warmack, 16, Tohono O’odham Nation, Arizona
  • Jazmine Wildcat, 14, Northern Arapaho, Wyoming
  • Sky Wildcat, 22, Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma