CANTON, N.Y. (WWTI) – St. Lawrence University has named Brenda Papineau as the new director of Native American Affairs, according to a press release from the organization.

Brenda Papineau is a member of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe. Papineau graduated from St. Lawrence University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 2002, a master’s in counseling and human development in 2006 and a master’s in educational leadership in 2015.

“My passion is in advising students. It makes my heart happy when I’m able to help my students find opportunities that lead them to great things. I consider myself a poster child of many opportunity programs, and I knew I wanted my work to be centered on helping students realize their potential, and empowering students to utilize campus resources to fully engage in their collegiate experience.” Papineau said.

“What makes me excited about this new scope of work is the opportunity to make this campus even more welcoming to Indigenous students while at the same time serving as the official St. Lawrence ambassador to native communities near and far,” Papineau said, who is adviser to the Native American Student Alliance on campus. “I want to help raise awareness within our campus community and forge new connections with the Mohawk community at Akwesasne as many folks still don’t know that there’s a reservation just an hour’s drive away.”

The university said Papineau will join forces with students, faculty, staff and offices across campus, to build and strengthen relations with Indigenous communities locally, regionally and nationally. She will guide programming to support the enrollment and success of St. Lawrence’s Indigenous students. Papineau will serve as the university’s contact with outside organizations to find opportunities for partnerships across communities.

“Brenda’s educational background and professional expertise as an advisor and mentor, combined with her personal connection to Indigenous communities, make her uniquely suited to this important work,” Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs Karl Schonberg said. “In fact, this new role formalizes much of the work she is already engaged in and provides more visibility for her leadership in advancing new initiatives.”

Papineau grew up in Akwesasne, New York and still calls the reservation her home. She first came to know St. Lawrence as a young teen while participating in Upward Bound and other college-preparation experiences.

Papineau was determined to attend St. Lawrence as a first-generation student and was able to do so with support from The Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program, a partnership between the university and the New York State Education Department.