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David Weaver is a current senior here at UNC-Chapel Hill. He is enrolled in the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska and grew up in Hickory, North Carolina. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biology from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Certificate of Ethics and Society from Duke University and plans to one day practice Psychiatry, focusing on Native outreach through telehealth on reservations with a holistic approach. David views that approach as a means to better long-lasting benefits for Native people as it combats Western practices of medicine. The things that are going to improve our mental health and productivity are holistic lifestyle changes and not medication. David stated – “Colonization, substance abuse, depression, and suicide are rampant across all Native communities and if we can improve the health of Native communities, they’ll start reaching for the stars. By improving mental health within these communities, we will be able to collectively start effecting change for tribes to fight for sovereignty and land and be in touch with our culture.”

As a kid, David was always competitive and wanted to “be smart”, and is perceived as such. He mentioned that wrestling was a big part of his life that shaped who he is today and went on further to say that he would love to open a wrestling club for Native people to join.

David excels academically, earning him entrance to Carolina as a Robertson Scholar. He traveled to Spain during his sophomore year to learn elements of the Spanish language and culture, which ultimately fed his desire to serve the Spanish population as well as the Native American population. David feels cultural awareness and understanding are vital parts when working with different communities.

David manages to keep busy outside of the academic arena as well.  On campus, he is a co-captain for the UNC Cheer Team – a D1 varsity athletics team, serves as a resident advisor and is committed to being actively engaged within the Carolina Indian Circle (CIC). Off-campus, he works as a certified nursing assistant for Duke Regional Hospital in their psychiatry unit, a Promise Resource Network volunteer for the Southeastern American Indian Cancer Health Equity Partnership (SAICEP), and serves as the Vice Chairman for his nation’s health system. 

As someone who is consistently on the go, David says he finds downtime when meditating and journaling. He mentions that being with nature, cheering, and being around the community helps keep the stress off his shoulders

His position as Vice Chairman of a sovereign health system makes him responsible for the lives of 4,000 people. David has assumed this responsibility as a leader and takes pride in this opportunity to make positive impacts on Native people’s lives. 

David credits the American Indian Center (AIC) for playing a large part in helping him reconnect with his roots and heritage. To him, the existence of the AIC and the support they offered are what made Carolina stand out amongst the crowd of universities. 

David feels engagement with both the AIC and CIC to be incredible support systems that helped him overcome imposter syndrome and self-infliction coming in as somebody who was white-passing. When entering his freshman year during the era of COVID-19, he didn’t have contacts or resources to learn about his culture, but the AIC helped him reconnect and claim his heritage and culture.

Authors: Jalyn Oxendine & Qua Adkins



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