Western Carolina University’s (WCU) Digali’i, the Native American student organization on campus, has named its officers for the 2020-21 academic year. Aaliyah Swimmer, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) from Waynesville, has been named president and Driver Blythe, an EBCI tribal member who is currently in the Master’s of Social Work program at WCU, has been named the vice president.
Swimmer, a senior professional writing major and Cherokee Studies minor, said she desires to learn more about her culture and tribal perspective. Her dream is to be a novelist standing up for social justice and speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves through writing.
“I am grateful and honored to be the 2020-21 Digali’i president. I hope that I can use this position as president to bring all WCU Native students together, promote awareness for Native American issues and help Native students gain positive cultural images.”
Swimmer added, “Digali’i means ‘we are all friends’. Native and non-Native students are invited to be involved and help us make culturally fun events for every student to enjoy. This year is going to be full of obstacles, but working together we can continue to make Digali’i the Native organization that Western Carolina University can be proud of.”
Blythe earned his undergraduate degree from WCU in criminal justice. “The university is taking big steps in recognizing that this campus is built on tribal land, and with a strong group I do believe that we can help take the university even further. My hopes for the future are to become a clinical social worker and make a difference within the Tribe for the better. I look forward to working with everybody in this group as your vice president and being a helping hand in any way I can be of use.”
He went on to say, “Together, we can reach new heights and make an impact for this academic year.”
Alyssa Haymond, an EBCI tribal member from the Birdtown Community, has been named Digali’i secretary. A junior majoring in hospitality and tourism management with the hopes of starting her own business upon graduation, she noted, “As an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, I find it very important for Native American students to have community and a place to highlight our achievements. I am very excited to have been given the role of secretary and aim to help this organization out in any way possible.”
Tierra Martinez, an EBCI tribal member and a senior at WCU majoring in nutrition and dietetics, will serve as the treasurer for the organization. “My future goals are to graduate school to earn my master’s degree and return home to work for my Tribe. I look forward to working with Digali’i and everyone else!”
Athena Sadongei, an EBCI tribal member currently finishing a double major in business management and marketing, will serve as the public relations officer. “I love being a student because it gives me the opportunity to build my knowledge in anything I find interesting. My goal is to one day run my own business. Until then, I am excited to learn what I can from the Digali’i group and my position as public relations officer this semester.”
– WCU Cherokee Center release