Students and Staff after the Black Arm Band at the Mondavi Center



Staff meeting January 7th 2022
2021-2022 Staff


Michelle Villegas-Frazier

Michelle Villegas-Frazier

  • Director | Pomo, Pinoleville
  • Strategic Native American Retention Initiatives/Student Affairs

Michelle Villegas-Frazier, who previously worked for a decade in outreach programs on campus, returned to become the first director of Strategic Native American Retention Initiative in Student Affairs. She brings with her more than 20 years of experience in Native American outreach and retention services and programs.

Michelle will provide strategic leadership to identify opportunities for enhancing the persistence, achievement and graduation rates for Native American students. She will lead efforts to develop partnerships across the university and implement a plan to serve students from orientation through graduation.

You can schedule an in-person or virtual meeting with Michelle via Calendly:


Associate Director

William Sampson

William Sampson

  • Associate Director | Oglala Lakota
  • Native American Academic Student Services Center

William (Will) Sampson is a first-generation college graduate who originally comes from Tulare, California (Yokuts lands). He graduated from UC Davis in 2019 with degrees in Native American Studies and History, and received his M.A. in History from the University of Washington in 2022. Will was amongst the first students to work in the Native Nest when it first opened in 2017, and is excited for the opportunity to work with and support the community that played a critical role in his growth as a Native person in higher education. He is committed to developing strategies for Native students to succeed academically and professionally during their time at UC Davis, as well as foster opportunities for Native student leadership. 


Staff Adriana Martin

Adriana Martin

  • Office Coordinator
  • Native American Academic Student Services Center

Adriana Martin is a first generation Mexican-American college graduate and is one of five children. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Chicana/o Studies (minored in English) from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and her Master in Business Administration from the University of San Francisco. She understands first hand the investment of sacrifice, time, “ganas” and hustle it takes to enjoy the sweet payoff of achieving academic and professional goals. The win is for self, family, and community.

Her StrengthFinders top five themes are connectedness, relator, arranger, empathy, individualization. She gently carves out tiny and big moments of joy for herself by listening to beautiful music, meditating, going for long walks, biking, exploring family-friendly activities, and connecting with friends. She always carriers a camera to capture moments in time. Favorite mantras: “I didn’t come this far to only come this far.” “If I can dream it, I can manifest it.”

Ariel, Writing Specialist

Ariel Loring

  • Writing Specialist
  • Writing Support Center in the Academic Assistance and Tutoring Centers (AATC)
Office Hours:
AATC Writing Specialist Ariel Loring is holding hybrid drop-in writing support for Native Nest students every Thursday from 3:00-4:00 p.m. You can choose to attend virtually on Zoom or in the Native Nest. The Zoom link is You can bring a prompt, a draft, a reading, or we can just have a conversation. If you are sharing some writing, please be prepared to share a Google Doc with editing permission enabled.

Ariel started at UC Davis as a graduate student in 2008.  After earning her M.A. and PhD in linguistics, she started working as a writing specialist in the AATC.  As someone who didn’t particularly enjoy college writing or feel confident in it, she has since published multiple academic articles.  She is eager to help other writers feel confident and competent with their writing.

Ariel has been offering drop-in writing support in the Native Nest since 2017, and also facilitates a student book group that meets once a quarter:

Get help at any stage of the writing process:

  • Understanding the prompt and generating ideas
  • Developing, connecting and organizing ideas/arguments  
  • Identifying grammar error patterns and learning the rules to remedy them
  • Learning how to edit sentences to make them more concise

Session details/policies:

  • AATC Writing Specialist Ariel Loring is holding hybrid drop-in writing support for Native Nest students every Thursday from 3:00-4:00 p.m. You can choose to attend in-person in the Native Nest or virtually on Zoom. The Zoom link is If you’re doing any writing this quarter, either for your classes or if you’re applying for a scholarship or graduate school, I’d love to work with you. You don’t need to bring a finished draft to meet with me— I’m here to help support you at whatever stage you are at, even if you haven’t started writing yet. If you meet with me, I’ll ask what you want to go over and we’ll have a conversation about it. If I have feedback, I’ll phrase it as suggestions, but you are the writer and you make whatever choices you want based on that feedback.
  • If you need grammar support, please also visit the Aggie Grammar Guide:

Learn more about the services Ariel can provide: 

Photo of CAN Counselor Tracy Thomas

Tracy Thomas, LMFT

  • Community Counselor
  • UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services (position housed at NAASSC)
Office Hours:
To schedule a virtual or in-person appointment with Tracy, please email her at She is available Monday - Thursday and is accepting appointments starting at 8:00 a.m. with the last offering at 5:30 p.m. 

Tracy Thomas is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) working as a Community Counselor for Student Health and Counseling Services.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication Studies from University of California at Los Angeles and her Master of Arts Degree from Brandman University. 

Through her work in private practice and through non-profit community health centers throughout the Sacramento area, she has compassionately provided mental health care services to culturally and socio-economically diverse populations from marginalized, underrepresented, and underserved communities, including Native American and Indigenous populations. Tracy has specialized interest, training, and experience in treating symptoms of PTSD and trauma, including intergenerational trauma experienced by many oppressed people. She received EMDR training and consultation from an EMDRIA-approved school and uses EMDR as a primary tool to help clients heal from traumatic experiences. Additionally, through her work experience in a partial hospitalization program, she has specialized training in treating eating disorders and other co-occurring mental illnesses using ACT and DBT therapies. Her primary theoretical orientation is Humanistic.

Tracy’s personal philosophy in counseling is rooted in the belief that regardless of the complex emotional challenges that one might be facing, each person can experience emotional freedom and reach his or her maximum potential in life. This can be achieved through access to an empathic, culturally competent counselor who assists the client to reprocess traumatic events, to learn and practice mindfulness, make a commitment to acceptance of each experience, and to align thoughts and behaviors with his, her, or their core values to achieve their desired outcomes. Tracy enjoys helping students embrace their intersecting identities into a healthy, holistic, and integrated sense of self.  Tracy’s celebrates her multicultural ethnicity, including honoring and giving back to her Choctaw identity.  

Managing Fears and Anxiety Around Coronavirus

Devon ICC

Devon Seward Howland

  • Career Services Specialist
  • Internship and Career Center (ICC)
Office Hours:
Every Wednesday at The Native Nest - University from 12:00 - 1:00 pm. You can schedule an appointment with Devon Seward Howland at to connect.

Hello, I am Devon Seward Howland, the Career Services Specialist in the ICC (Internship and Career Center) focusing on Student Employment. I come to the ICC with a background of 10+ years in Human Resources where I was a college recruiter for firms like Boeing, INROADS and Bank of America where I visited many colleges and reached out to students about jobs and internships. I spent a great deal of time specifically seeking students of color on these campuses, including Native American students in particular.
I have worked even longer on the college side at several schools including UC Berkeley, University of Chicago, Chaminade and Gonzaga Universities as well. At these institutions I worked closely with students directly around career and internship services in general and specifically on how to engage with employers.
My passion is the help students find theirs. College is a great place to begin to better understand the world and career services is the best place to learn about the world of work. This also includes preparing for graduate study as well since more education opens up future opportunities on and off the college campus and we help students plan and prepare for both.
I am very enthusiastic about what I do and especially assisting first generation and students of color to navigate college and the career search process as I reference experiences that helped me find my own way. I like to find ways to relate to people and am pretty good at finding things I have in common with almost everyone.
Please feel free to contact me at or 530.752.4648 to set up a session to chat. I look forward to setting up workshops and other career events as well as sharing information about our upcoming ICC events. Please share your needs and I will do my best to assist you with them.
I will be spending regular time each week in the Native American Student Success Center and look forward to seeing you there!

Virtual Services at the Internship & Career Center:

*Subscribe to weekly newsletters on new internships, jobs, networking events, & more

*Register for workshops, employer info sessions, and career fairs

*Make Career Advising appointments with Career Advisors by phone or video

*Use Drop-in Peer Advising or Document Review to get started on your internship/job search, Handshake basics, and resume & cover letter review

Student Assistants

Jazmin Chavez

Jazmin Chavez

  • Student Assistant, 2022-23
  • Chippewa Cree

My name is Jazmin Chavez and I am from Southern California. I am a 3rd-year Psychology and Native American Studies major. I am Native American and Chicana; I am an enrolled member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe on the Rocky Boy Reservation in Montana. In my free time, I like spending time with my friends, talking to family, and watching movies/ tv series, listening to music, and glass painting.

Rene Chavez

Rene Chavez

  • Student Assistant, 2022-23
  • Cherokee 

Hello my name is Rene Chavez, I am currently a second year biology major here at UC Davis. My goal is to go to medical school, and become a doctor in family practice to work for a Native clinic. I am of Latino, and Native American Heritage. My father is from El Salvador, and my mother is Cherokee. For the past six years I have been a part of a military youth program called the United States Naval Sea Cadets. Through this program I have had numerous leadership opportunities. I have been in charge of drills, leading divisions, and various trainings. Furthermore I have also participated in many acts of community service like, toys-4-tots, memorial day ceremonies, beach/lake cleanups, and covid vaccination clinics. In addition to my studies, I also hope to learn more about Native culture and be able to help Native Students with their own education and help them strive for success!

Maria Orozco

Maria Orozco

  • Student Assistant, 2022-23

Hi, my name is Maria Orozco (she/her). I was born in Puruándiro, Michoacán but raised in California. I am a fourth-year double major, Sociology and Native American studies, hoping to utilize them to aid my career goal of opening a non-profit organization. My goal is to help students pursue any type of schooling; university, trade program, certificate programs, etc. I wish to give them the same opportunities I've had in pursuing my interests such as understanding why social groups have different mobility experiences. Outside of academia, I also enjoy trying out new coffee places, collecting vinyls, and hanging out with my friends and family.

River Burkart

River Burkart

  • Student Assistant, 2022-23
  • Lakota, Cherokee, Choctaw

Hi, my name is River Burkart and I am a first year Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology major at UC Davis! I hope to use my major to restore and protect indigenous plants, animals, and lands that are sacred to Native communities; and be a mentor to young Native women interested in pursuing STEM fields. In my free time I like to spend time with my cat, read poetry, and listen to music!


Vanessa Hurtado

  • Student Assistant, 2022-23

Hello, my name is Vanessa Hurtado and I use she/her pronouns. I am a decolonized Chicana Indigena. I am a third year Pharmaceutical Chemistry major. My goal is to use my major to help make health services more accessible and holistic to underserved communities. 

Ainea final

Ainea Twite

  • Student Assistant, 2022-23
  • Pueblo and Navajo

Hello, my name is Ainea Twite (she/her/hers). I am a proud former foster youth. I am a third year transfer student from Mount San Antonio College. I am a psychology major and neuroscience minor. I am currently interested in pursuing a career in psychopharmacological research. My hobbies range from hiking, drawing, painting, making music, and dancing.