Joseph Utzler is an undergraduate student in the Native Pathways Program at The Evergreen State College with plans to seek a doctorate in American Indian Studies and Social Justice. He is dedicated to the common good and is driven by collaborative approaches to addressing problems of incarceration and re-entry, college access and Native resilience and cultural preservation. Joseph entered higher education after incarceration and release into homelessness. He is now engaged as an advocate, debt free and a spiritual leader with the North West Indian Treatment center. He is a song keeper for traditional Indian song and prayers. Joseph is a volunteer for the Chief Seattle club urban Indian center teaching art and drum making. Joseph served as an intern with the Education Reentry Navigator Office. He is a coordinator for the Student Activities group for formerly incarcerated students. Joseph publicly shares his educational pathways, barriers, successes, and future goals. This spring Joseph will be an intern to lobby to support Evergreen students and tribal governance.
My journey to higher education has been about resilience. My name is Joseph Utzler and I am in the Native Pathways Program to earn a BA from The Evergreen State College in 2023. I faced homelessness after incarceration and worked hard to enter college. I plan to continue on to graduate school and earn a doctorate in American Indian Studies and Social Justice. As a student, I work with the NW Indian Treatment center as a spiritual leader for native men and women’s sweat lodge. I am also a song keeper for traditional Indian song and prayers and involved in sweat lodges throughout all of Western WA. I am a leader as a coordinator for the Justice Involved Student Group (JISG) and did an internship with the Re-entry Office supporting formerly incarcerated students in higher education. I look forward participating with fellows nationwide who are committed to making change and working together.