October 2022 - Sustainability Champion of The Month: Dr. Rebecca Hernandez

We have the honor of highlighting Rebecca Hernandez as our October Sustainability Champion. Rebecca has done so much for our campus, that featuring her as a champion is long overdue. Read on to learn more about Rebecca and the great work she does at UCSC.

October 03, 2022


1. Tell us a bit about yourself, your background, and how your path led to where you are today.
I grew up in Los Angeles, 10 miles from downtown. I majored in Studio Arts as an undergraduate, then went on to earn an MFA in Design. After that I earned an MA in American Indian Studies at UCLA and then a PhD in American Studies from the University of New Mexico. All of my academic work has focused on the arts in some way, American Indian art in particular. After completing my PhD, I returned to UCLA where I served first as a Researcher and then as Assistant Director at the American Indian Studies Center. Five years later I came to UCSC to serve as Director of the American Indian Resource Center where my work focused on serving American Indian students and raising awareness about American Indian history and lifeways. In January of 2022, I came to the University Library where I am now the Community Archivist. My career has centered on serving others and I’m happy to begin this new journey, working with my colleagues at the University Library to create the Community Archiving Program.

2. What does Sustainability mean to you?
For me, sustainability means that I pay attention to what is happening around me, try my best to be mindful in what I use, eat, purchase and how I spend my free time. We can talk about sustainability but our behavior should also reflect what we profess. 

3. You have been instrumental in the success of the American Indian Resource Center (AIRC) on campus and beyond, increasing the needed visibility of American Indian students, faculty and staff on campus. What accomplishments are you most proud of at the Center? 
chairman-lopez-amah-mutsun-tribal-band-and-rebecca-hernandez380.jpgAll that we did at the American Indian Resource Center was made possible by the hard work of students and all the faculty and staff who supported our efforts. For the seven years that I served as director, working together with the student interns, we hosted over 100 events that centered American Indian voices, including the Missing and

Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Series and the People of Color Sustainability Collective. The center earned a reputation for being a trusted collaborator and community resource, developing long-term relationships with people and organizations both on and off campus. I was transformed by my work with students and am ever grateful for their willingness to share a part of their lives with me. 

Chairman Lopez Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and Rebecca Hernandez pictured here.

4. One of your strengths is engaging in many creative collaborations across campus with Colleges 9 & John R. Lewis College, Sustainability Office, KZSC radio station, and beyond. What recommendations would you have for students and staff members regarding how to build meaningful professional relationships and collaborate effectively across institutional barriers? 
Developing good relationships on campus always begins with doing some research about the folks you want to work with, being clear about what you’d like to work on with them and then having a clear plan. Everyone on the campus is really busy and people appreciate it when the work is made easier by being organized and efficient. It’s also a good idea to stay in touch with folks and to support their efforts, too. 

5. Now at your new role as the campus’ first community archivist, can you tell us about your work and plans you have for the future in this new capacity?
It’s a really exciting time in Special Collections and Archives. The Community Archiving Program is just beginning, but I’m busy developing the plan for the program and working with Teresa Mora, Head of Special Collections and Archives to determine our path forward. There’s a lot of excitement around the program and we’re eager to begin sharing our plans soon.

6. Is there anything else about the work you do that you would like to share?
I encourage everyone to visit the libraries on campus and to learn more about all the resources we have for students, staff and faculty. Special Collections and Archives includes a lot of amazing materials, including artist books, The Grateful Dead Collection, information about the history of the university and faculty papers. Come by and say hello, we’d be happy to share more information!

7. Lastly, what do you do for fun outside of work?
My most favorite pastime is visiting museums, I never tire of it! I also enjoy reading mystery novels and books by Native authors.