Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member Roxie Andrews began working for the Community in 1978 as a Johnson O’Malley (JOM) Program aide for the Education Department. She worked with Community students, visiting schools, helping children with their homework and doing everything she could to assist them.
Over the years Andrews held many positions within the JOM Program, including program aide, administrative assistant and program director. Currently she is school and community relations program manager.
“I know just about everyone in the Community—not because I am a Community member, but because I’ve seen about three generations of families grow up since I started working here,” said Andrews.
Before her interest in education, Andrews worked in the medical field, as a certified nursing assistant for Indian Health Services at the Phoenix Indian Medical Center. She traveled with a doctor and nurse to provide health care at different tribal communities and health clinics.
Wanting Students to Succeed
Andrews has always wanted to help students succeed. Prior to applying for the position as JOM Program aide, Andrews had a stake in education herself because her own children were in school and she was on the JOM Committee.
She was able to see the education issues the Community was facing at that time, and she wanted to make a difference. So when the job became available, she was asked to apply.
“I have always wanted to see the kids of the Community become educated, succeed in their field and then come back and run their Community. It is still my hope,” said Andrews, “for them to be able to handle all the challenges that may come about in the future, especially for our Community, and to help preserve it.”
Because she was busy raising her own family, Andrews did not finish her own college education. That is one reason why she has always told students that a college education is very important. So she decided to walk the talk and finish her degree.
Andrews said, “I needed to be an example for the children, because how would they believe me if I didn’t go back and get [my degree]? So I challenged them and told them, ‘If you go back to school, then I will.’ And so I did. It was very challenging because I had not been in school in years, and there were times when I wanted to give up. But I told myself that there were only two more classes left.” She finally completed her college education and earned her bachelor of arts degree.
Andrews has seen a lot change from the time she began working for the Community.
“Everything has been for the better, I think, for both the Community members in general and in education,” Andrews explained. “I have always dreamt about Salt River having its own schools for our kids, where we can have a say in what they learn and offer the best of the best for our kids. I just wish that all Community members would see what we have [in terms of educational facilities] and take advantage of that. I would like to see them be more supportive of the schools and more involved than they are now, but that has always been the challenge since day one—it has never changed.”
What motivates her in her job? “All the thank-yous I get from parents, teachers and students. They know that they can seek me out for help, and I am willing to do all I can,” said Andrews.
With her perseverance and dedication, it seems only natural that Andrews would end up working for the Community for more than 30 years. To stay that long in a job, she says, “You love what you are doing and it is in your heart. People have a sense for that—they know when you really want to help them, and they will begin to trust you. So be yourself and put your all into what you are doing.”