National News

California Indian Nations College Celebrates Theresa Mike as 56th AD Woman of the Year

Theresa Mike, visionary and Founding Trustee of California Indian Nations College (CINC) was recognized as the 56th Assembly District Woman of the Year for the second year in a row, 2020 and 2021, by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (56-AD) at the UCR-Palm Desert campus on July 9th. This prestigious award is given to those who exemplify greatness in arts, business, education, community building and being an overall, well-rounded, human being.

“I am so glad that we get to honor this phenomenal woman the right way, this year.” Assemblymen Garcia said at the award ceremony. “No other person has been voted for two years in a row, but Theresa truly embodies all of the qualities and then some, as she elevates reservations across Indian Country and impacts so many lives through her service to tribal sovereignty and California Indian Nations College.”

Theresa is truly one of a kind – a true pioneer in pushing the importance of education in Indian Country. Prior to her work starting CINC, Theresa was one of the founding Lummi Tribal members who helped create and develop Northwest Indian College in the state of Washington. She has brought her experience and passion in education to Southern California to accomplish this same outcome with establishing a Tribal College here in the Coachella Valley. Speaking on behalf of CINC at the ceremony, President Celeste Townsend said “It takes ambition and respect from others as well as motivation of self and to others to achieve all that Theresa Mike has achieved. I am honored to call her my mentor. Not only is she CINC founder and visionary, but she is also resilient, inspiring, strong and full of wisdom that improves and pushes education for all Native people.”

Among her many projects, Theresa exemplifies the qualities earning her Woman of the Year as she advocates for education and encourages younger generations to learn, grow and empower their tribes. “We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors, no matter what nationality. Parents always want what is best for their children, but it is hard when you are struck with poverty,” said Theresa. “Losing our language, culture, and all the things that make us unique in this world is not an option and CINC as an emerging tribal college allows us to teach, learn and keep traditions alive with education at the forefront…I’ve heard students say they feel at home at CINC because they can speak their language and be themselves. They feel supported and heard. We all need healing, and we have a long way to go but it all starts with knowledge. We encourage everyone to earn their degree because education is something no one can ever take away from you. It is truly one of the greatest equalizers and it is never too late.”

About California Indian Nations College

California Indian Nations College is an independent, 501(c)(3) non-profit, two-year tribal college chartered by the Twenty­Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians. CINC serves the region with fully-accredited, culturally responsive college classes, personalized student support, and community services, that includes an adult education program, tutoring, and individualized advising and mentoring. We recently concluded our third year of academic courses and celebrated our first commencement. To date, we have matriculated over 175 students from over 50 tribes. American Indian students face incredible hurdles. The California high school graduation rate for American Indians is 11.4% lower than the overall rate and the college-going rate is 14.4% lower than the overall rate. CSU and UC graduation rates are also over 11% lower than the overall graduation rates. CINC serves as a much-needed bridge between high school and a four-year institution. CINC provides a pathway to cultural revitalization and the stabilization of Native tradition and values which educate, strengthen, and empowers both our Native and non-Native students. To learn more about or donate to California Indian Nations College, call (760)834-0953 or visit, like California Indian Nations College on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @CINCollege.

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