Pino, who began attending Eastern New Mexico University in the fall of 2016 to earn a master’s degree in communication, received her bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in psychology from Cottey College, an all- women liberal arts school in Nevada, Missouri.

Pino currently works as editor of the ENMU student newspaper, The Chase. This is her first editorial position, which excites her.

The grad student was born in Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico and moved to Colorado early in life. She considers herself from both places. She said that even after moving to Colorado, her “family would go to Laguna Pueblo for ceremonies and cultural traditions, particularly around Christmas or in the summer.”

Pino’s education and heritage go hand-in-hand because she hopes to “overcome the barriers of stereotypical assumptions” associated with her heritage through pursuing her goals. She explained how many people think that Native Americans are “just drunks.” 

Some don’t go to college or drop out of school for various reasons. Pino hopes to break down these barriers through her work. She changes perceptions of indigenous communities by being at a college institution. “I’m affecting my community in a positive way by making positive change,” she said.

Pino has wanted to advocate for indigenous people since she was young. Throughout school she was bullied for her heritage. She recalled a time in elementary school when her mom braided her “long dark hair in two braids and wrapped buckskin cloths around them, preparing me for picture day.” 

After arriving at school, other students teased Pino and pulled on her braids.

She felt anger at first, then motivation. She uses her motivation to actively advocate for indigenous people groups everywhere. “There’s a lot that needs to be done in the world for indigenous communities,” Pino said.

She plans on using her education and career to bring awareness, tolerance and sensitivity to the communities surrounding her. She has allowed her experiences to mold her into a leader and advocate. Her goal is to bring worldwide tolerance for culture and identity. Her goal is to become a photojournalist or cultural editor for a community newspaper in Laguna Pueblo. 

Pino encourages others to know and take pride in their identity. “Be reminded of where you come from.  Be careful what you do,” she said in reflecting how people view cultures and groups. “Anything I do reflects on my community.”

Pino has a one-year-old daughter she loves dearly.  She hopes her daughter will find something to be passionate about.

“I will always remind her where she comes from,” said Pino. “I will teach her about her roots, past, present, and future.  She is the future generation.”