Tehya Sepulvado (she/her) is the recipient of the 2023-2024 Faith Danielle Hedgepeth Award.
The Faith Danielle Hedgepeth Award was established in 2015 to celebrate and honor the life of Faith Danielle Hedgepeth by providing a sophomore UNC student with funds to support their academic pursuits at Carolina. Faith was an active member of the Tar Heel community with aspirations of having a positive impact on her community after completing her studies. While Faith was unable to fulfill this dream in life, through this award students like Tehya receive support in pursuing similar goals while carrying on Faith’s legacy of service to the North Carolina American Indian population.
Tehya Sepulvado, a citizen of the Choctaw/Apache tribe of Ebarb, is a current sophomore at UNC Chapel Hill double majoring in American Indian and Indigenous Studies (AIIS) and Human Development and Family Science (HDFS). For Tehya, her home is Shakopee, Minnesota where she has lived her entire life. She shares that her suburb is filled with Native life and influences in the community.
Tehya currently serves on the Carolina Indian Circle (CIC) executive board as secretary. She states that CIC and the American Indian Center (AIC), “are like a community where I can be myself. They all understand me more than anyone else.” The relationships she has with CIC and the AIC are where she can always be supported and receive advice when needed. Tehya also is a member of the Alpha chapter of Alpha Pi Omega Incorporated, serving as the Chieftess, Busy Bee, and Multicultural Greek Council (MGC) Representative. In her free time, she loves to teach kids. Over winter break, she served as a lead teacher at a child’s care center. This past summer, she ran an infant class by herself. Her campus and external activities represent the positive impact Faith strived for in her own life.
Ever since she was a child, Teyha knew she wanted to pursue higher education. Her parents were in college when she was small, and she remembers helping them study. Because of this, she was able to gain first-hand knowledge of college courses. Her parents earned their degrees through online programs; therefore, they pushed her to become a traditional student. The biggest accomplishment in Tehya’s life is being admitted to and attending UNC. She said she didn’t have role models in her life to look up to while going through the process of finding and attending colleges as a traditional student, so higher education seemed unattainable to her.
A big reason why Tehya decided to go to college out of state was because of the HDFS program at UNC. Teyha has worked in early childhood development, and her experiences working with children allowed her to realize that it is a strong passion of hers. She decided to double major in AIIS after taking a few courses in which she became intrigued. She also expressed that she wanted to explore more of the country, which going to school out of state allowed her the chance to do. “Moving here was hard at first, but now Carolina is my home away from home.”
Tehya destresses by hanging out with friends and watching movies. My goal is to not think about school,” she says, “It’s therapeutic to sit back in a nice chair, watch a movie, and not think about classes or homework.” She has an AMC movie pass which allows her to watch 3 movies a week for the price of $20.
A life motto that Tehya often follows is, “Give me knowledge, so I may have kindness for all.” This saying hangs on her wall so she could remind herself of it every day. Her favorite memory at Carolina was CIC’s 2023 powwow. She said it was heartwarming to be in a community with so many Native people who she knew and could relate to. She reminisces on the hard work that was put into hosting the amazing event to ensure a good turnout.
Tehya greatly appreciates winning the Faith Danielle Hedgepeth scholarship. She attended the vigil that was held for Faith in 2022. There, she learned that Faith loves sock monkeys and ever since Tehya went to the vigil, she sees a sock monkey at least once a week. She views this award as a reminder of the loving and caring spirit of Faith, who she was, and her vision for the world; and Tehya wants to do her best to embody that spirit of Faith on her life’s path.