From student advocate to campus leader, Francis-Begay continues to serve Native American students

May 5, 2020

Karen Francis-Begay is personally fulfilling the ultimate hope she has for the Native American students she serves – finding success in a career that is meaningful while contributing to her community.

Francis-Begay will be doing just that in her new role as assistant vice provost for Native American initiatives.

Francis-Begay's efforts to improve the Native American student experience at the University of Arizona started during her own time as a student here, when she joined other Native Americans in advocating for a student center. The work paid off in the late 1980s, when the administration provided space in the Robert L. Nugent Building, which still houses the Native American Student Affairs office. Because the center opened after she completed her bachelor's degree, she didn't have a chance to use it. But she did get the opportunity to lead it, serving as its director from 2000-2007.

A second-generation Wildcat, Francis-Begay says she found her calling shortly after graduation when she worked in minority affairs at Pima Community College.

"I found that my passion was working in programs where I can help advance opportunities for underrepresented populations," Francis-Begay said.