Mariah Chastain

Sonoma State University
Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation Scholar

My Native American heritage has helped me create a profound connection to the environment and an interest in environmental issues.

Mariah Chastain has overcome numerous challenges in life, including a birth mother who battled mental illness and addiction. Mariah was removed from her home and placed in foster care at age nine. She never again saw her family, did not know her father, and was separated from her brothers, one of whom was taken away in a custody battle, while the other died tragically when Mariah was in middle school.

Disconnected from family, Mariah struggled to find a sense of belonging and identity. In spite of these difficulties, she became the first in her family to go to college. Now a junior at Sonoma State University, she is majoring in environmental studies with an emphasis in conservation and restoration and minoring in biology. Mariah has three on-campus jobs and is a leader in the Mathematical Engineering Science Achievement Club.

Mariah plans to study abroad at Swansea University, in Wales, to expand her environmental and biological education. She intends to pursue a doctorate in environmental conservation with an emphasis in indigenous studies.