Tiana Pereira

Portrait of Tiana Pereira

2021 Award: The Outstanding Senior Student Award in Criminology
Major: Psychology and Criminal Justice
Minor: Sociology
Hometown: Waipahu, HI
Extracurricular activities: Hawai‘i Pacific Islander’s Club (UACC Liaison 2018-2019, President 2019-2020), Asian American Union Member, CCE Programming Leader, Alpha Sigma Nu Member


About the Award:

The Outstanding Senior Student Award in Criminology is awarded to honor an individual who demonstrates high academic achievement in their area of study (both in the classroom and outside), who can demonstrate an advanced understanding and ability to apply critical thinking within their field, has demonstrated their understanding of the complex issues of justice in their written work and who actively participates in community service.

More about Tiana

Future plans:

Upon graduating this past December, I got my certification to be an RBT where I currently work with students in the Hawai‘i public school system who fall on the Autism spectrum. I will continue this work throughout the summer before moving to Seattle to attend Seattle University School of Law this Fall. As a first-generation law student, and a woman of color, I hope to use my degree to fight for the chance for everyone to be heard and will have a special emphasis on working directly with Native Hawaiians in my community at home. In the next 10-15 years I hope to be actively living a life of service, love, and growth. I look forward to learning as much as possible from law school and using it to complete my legal work through a social justice lens. I vow to be a hands-on lawyer and advocate, whether it be for resources, land rights, equitable education, better access to healthcare, ample representation in local and national politics, and any other endeavor that promotes equality.

How has your major contributed to your professional or personal development?

I came to Gonzaga with a general idea of what I wanted to study, however it wasn’t until I began classes and met my wonderful advisors, that I was able to map out an academic path that I not only enjoyed but was also passionate about. It was then, that I was able to take classes on social justice, join clubs to support fellow students of color, worked at our campus’ Unity Multicultural Education Center where I planned programs and events to promote inclusivity and diversity on campus, volunteered within the Spokane community, and was a member of the Council of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Through these involvements, and particularly through the curriculum, I was able to use the skills I acquired in my classes and put them directly into practice at Gonzaga University. I truly believe that my time at Gonzaga has not only been educationally fulfilling, but it also ignited a fire within me that I will carry for many years after I depart Gonzaga.

What has been your proudest or most significant accomplishment during your Gonzaga career?

Through my involvement with UMEC, I was able to participate in and lead a variety of social justice focused events and programs. My favorite program that I organized was called “Rediscovering My Mother Tongue.”  My goal was to highlight the experiences of students from diverse backgrounds who have lost the ability to speak their native languages as a result of colonization, assimilation, or immigration, proving just how important language is to one’s cultural identity. When looking at my own cultural identity, my proudest moment during my time at Gonzaga was planning the Hawai‘i Pacific Islander Club’s annual Lü‘au in 2019. My culture is such an important part of who I am, and while there are very few people who identify as Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander here at Gonzaga, I was extremely proud to work with our club to bring our culture to not only Gonzaga but the greater Spokane Community as well.