November community letter

Mary J. Lomax-Ghirarduzzi

Dear Pacificans,

November is Native American Heritage Month. This month is a special time to reflect and recommit to our Native American community and to acknowledge the importance of celebrations such as the 41st annual Stockton Community Pow Wow organized by the San Joaquin Urban Native Council and Stockton Native Collective and hosted at our Stockton Campus. 

On Tuesday, November 22, please join the Pacific community for an evening with Representative Christina Haswood. She'll share her insights as a young Indigenous woman and as one of the youngest members of the Kansas State Legislature. The event is free and open to the public and begins at 6 p.m. in the Don and Karen DeRosa University Center at the Stockton Campus. This event is hosted by the Center for Identity and Inclusion.

As we consider how best to support Native American students and acknowledge the original inhabitants of this land, I am excited to introduce two new first-year student leaders, Caroline Rivera and Maryjane Mesa. 

Caroline and Maryjane are the first in their families to attend a university and they want to ensure more Native Americans have the opportunity to attend Pacific. These Community Involvement Program Scholars have started the Native American Indigenous Student Union (NAISU), a new student organization dedicated to building community, cultural pride and advocacy for Native American and Indigenous students.

NAISU is committed to Native American student self-determination and will partner with community-based Native American organizations to assist in their efforts. Guided by students, staff, faculty and community leaders who identify as Native American, my office will work with NAISU to uplift student voices as we humbly begin to understand and address what a model land acknowledgement and American Indian student success and cultural initiative entails. This work is more than a land acknowledgment and must be guided by our Native American and Indigenous community.

Upholding our value of inclusion means we support one another and express care when members of our community reach out. In recent weeks, Iran has experienced widespread unrest in cities throughout the country, where protests have erupted following the detainment and death of Mahsa Amini. 

Like many Pacificans, I am alarmed and saddened by the violence against women in Iran and the brutal attack on students protesting at Tehran’s Sharif University. 

Last month, a community processing space was hosted by the Center for Identity and Inclusion (Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi Student Services), Counseling and Psychological Services and the Muslim Student Association to honor Ms. Amini’s memory and to grieve her loss and share feelings of hope in protest of the violence.

As we prepare to enter this season of gratitude and giving, I want to send a special message of support and care to those in our Pacific community who are affected by these recent events and to their families and friends in the region also affected. We support the human rights and dignity of all people, including a woman’s right to choose whether to wear a hijab based on their beliefs or preferences.


Mary J. Lomax-Ghirarduzzi
Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Professor of Communication