Arts / Faith and Humanities / Campus Community / People of SU

Activating Collaboration and Connection

Written by Marketing Communications

March 22, 2022

Outdoor portrait of Christina Roberts. Graphic reads Celebrating Women's History Month. Text below reads Christina Roberts, PhD, College of Arts & Sciences.

Image credit: Yosef Kalinko. Graphic: Marissa Leitch

Seattle University continues its female faculty series in honor of Women's History Month with Dr. Christina Roberts.

An enrolled member of the Fort Belknap Indian Community, Dr. Christina Roberts grew up in South King County, knowing neither the cultural support of a tribal community nor the security and privilege many young people take for granted.

That’s why she now extends herself as a mentor to Seattle University’s first-generation and underrepresented students, both as a teacher and the founding director of Seattle University’s Indigenous Peoples Institute (IPI), which supports Native American student success at Seattle University and raises awareness about issues of critical importance to local and global Indigenous peoples.

“It’s about developing trust so students can be vulnerable with me about different situations,” she says. “I can meet the needs of students who have not historically had their needs met in a private university setting.”

Roberts came to Seattle U in 2007 because she appreciated the Jesuit pedagogy that creates a “two-way” exchange between student and professor.

“I love teaching. It’s why I’m drawn here,” she says. “There’s something in the air that prioritizes the relationship between the faculty and the students.”

As IPI director, Roberts works with people across the university and beyond to provide support for Native American students. She works in partnership with the university, the College of Arts and Sciences and Native leaders from the region.

Roberts might not be where she is today were it not for the support of Upward Bound, which helped her graduate high school, and the McNair Scholars Program, which provided academic and professional development support as she applied to graduate school. Now she is the one helping students surpass what they think is possible in their lives.

Looking to the future, Roberts aims to expand IPI’s partnership with the Lushootseed Research Institute and add more summer programming to the existing pre-college opportunities for American Indian and Alaska Native youth.

She also envisions further collaboration with campus partners “to allow for a more robust and respectful way for students and community members to connect with tribal nations locally and take informed action alongside Indigenous peoples to address the ongoing consequences of colonization, unsustainable development and climate change.”