Alyssa Kewenvoyouma, MBA/JD 22

­­­­Acts of resistance and advocacy

By Eric Askins

Alyssa Kewenvoyouma, MBA/JD 22, has a strong sense of identity, an identity with many facets. She is Indigenous (Navajo and Hopi) and of Mexican descent. The list continues: older sister, daughter, queer, community member, cousin, friend. She is an advocate for all of her communities.

During her time at UC Berkeley, she also has been a committed member of both the Law School and Berkeley Haas student communities. Alyssa started at the Law School and applied for a full-time MBA when she realized that the dual-degree program would give her complementary skill sets she could leverage to deliver more value to her clients.

“Being in a dual degree program means switching your mind set. Classes in Constitutional Law and Statistics require different approaches,” she said. “Law school is about independent study, while business school relies a lot on group project work.”

Two of her favorite MBA classes deepened her story-telling and communication skills; skills that Alyssa considers essential. Power & Politics, taught by Brandi Pearce, PhD, gave Alyssa insights into creating alliances and to becoming a more influential and effective leader. “In a field as hierarchical as law, that will be useful,” she said. The other, Designing Financial Models That Work, taught by Jenny Herbert Creek, MBA 10, spoke to Alyssa’s prior experience as a financial analyst, but more importantly, showed her “how to use data to tell a story, to articulate my points simply and powerfully, especially for people who don’t have a finance background. Plus, I loved the design aspects.”

Both programs proved “transformative.” Simply being at UC Berkeley for Alyssa, “is an act of resistance. Places like this were built to exclude people like me. I hope my presence here, and the work we are doing to expand the admission of Native Americans and other URMs (under-represented minorities), will grow our community here and in the larger worlds of business and law.”

But beyond being on campus, Alyssa engaged in advocacy and affinity groups at both the Law School, where she co-chaired the Berkeley chapter of the Native American Law Students Association, and at Haas. There, she led a team working on the Race Inclusion Initiative (RII). She and her team members, Ani Mack, MBA 23, Hilary Going, MBA 23, and Erin Brock, MBA 23, filled a gap by founding the first Native American and Indigenous Business Club.

Native American Law Students Association at Berkeley Law

Pictured: Native American Law Students Association at Berkeley Law. Alyssa is second from left.

“This is a group that I would have loved to be able to join when I applied to Haas,” she said. “Now, prospective students will be able to see themselves reflected in an affinity group, to know that there are people on campus willing to go to bat for you, to welcome you on a cultural level.”

In her dual roles as an RII team leader and representative of an affinity group, Alyssa also has a seat on the Diversity Admissions Council. That group collaborates with members of the Admissions Office on strategies to increase representation of various underrepresented groups. “While there have been Native American students at Haas in the past, I am the only one in my class, and one of the few to really advocate for creating an Indigenous community here,” she said. “I have seen a desire on the Diversity Admissions Council to do more outreach to Native students and to support them when they are here.”

I found the people here to be strategic, driven individuals who are wildly caring and compassionate."

Alyssa credits the Defining Leadership Principles, in particular, Beyond Yourself, for making the Berkeley Haas culture real among her classmates and professors. “I found the people here to be strategic, driven individuals who are wildly caring and compassionate. They want to make the world a better place and are willing to go beyond themselves to do that. It really represents what I want to do with my career.”

Her career will start in the Los Angeles office of law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP, where Alyssa interned each summer as a student. Her internships gave her opportunities to work on both corporate matters in the firm’s offices, and onsite with tribal clients. “Akin saw the value of me adding an MBA to my credentials. I look forward to using all of my skills and passion on a mix of corporate and tribal work, hopefully in the economic development arena. I deeply appreciate the opportunity to work with a firm that has such a profound American Indian law and policy group. It is a place where I can be happy going to work every day.”

Ready to go Beyond Yourself? Explore how the Defining Leadership Principles at Berkeley Haas are exemplified in our students, faculty, and community and learn how MBA programs at Haas produce leaders who embody these values.

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Posted on December 16, 2022
Eric Askins
Eric is the Executive Director of Full-time MBA Admissions. He partners with students, faculty and staff to recruit a diverse student body that enhances our community through innovative leadership and academic excellence.