Rachel McBride-Praetorius has spent her adult life advocating for the education of Native Americans in the North State. Now she’s sharing her knowledge and experience with the University, where she will help create connections with local tribal communities in order to increase the enrollment and graduation outcomes of Native American students.
McBride-Praetorius assumed her role as director of tribal relations at California State University, Chico earlier this month. She is the first person to hold this new position at the University, marking an important milestone as CSU, Chico aims to deepen its commitment to local tribal communities.
“We see this appointment as critically important to enhance our commitment and outreach to North State communities,” said CSU, Chico President Gayle E. Hutchinson. “We seek to provide Native American youth with the information and opportunity necessary to pursue a college education.”
Born and raised in McKinleyville, McBride-Praetorius (Liberal Studies, ’13) is an enrolled member of the Yurok Tribe located on the Klamath River. She brings a wealth of education work experience to the University, particularly in the North State native communities.
She spent 19 years at Four Winds of Indian Education in Chico, starting as an unpaid student intern and leaving as executive director, a position she held for the last 12 years. Under her tenure there, Four Winds has provided educational, advocacy and social services to local Native students and families. She and her staff also have served as policy advocates, consultants and educators to state and federal legislators around issues directly affecting Native students.
McBride-Praetorius, herself a first-generation student, understands the importance of feeling comfortable in new surroundings. And she said that begins with connecting with the tribal community: making CSU, Chico visible and available, such as at educational events, and ensuring the community understands the University as a trustworthy and valuable resource.
“I think it’s about building relationships first within the community and making sure the tribes, family members and the community know that if they send their student here, there’s someone here they can go to and the University will help them,” she said.
McBride-Praetorius’ overall goal is to increase the number of Native American students on campus by enhancing, developing and creating progressive and enriched relationships between the University and tribal communities. Her unique perspective—as a member of the tribal community working in higher education—will help pave the way.
“Knowing I still get to be a part of the community is very helpful,” she said. “I’m excited to be here and to see where this takes all of us.”