Although Mariah Snooks is living a couple hours northwest of the Yomba Reservation, she hasn’t forgotten her Native American people and the childhood memories she has because of them.
What Mariah is accomplishing in her young adult life can only bring smiles to the faces of Yomba Shoshone Tribal members and her relatives in Gabbs, Nev., near the Reese River in Central Nevada.
“I know a lot of them are proud of me and they expressed that to me,” Mariah said. “A lot of my family is that way … they are really proud of where I’m going and that I’ve accomplished so much.”
She graduated from Western Nevada College with an Associate of Arts degree on May 20, three days after receiving her high school diploma at Oasis Academy in Fallon.
Mariah, who is 25 percent Shoshone and 12.5 Paiute Indian, spent most of her preteen years near the Yomba Reservation in Gabbs. However, following her mother’s death when she was 8, Mariah moved with her father, Ron, and stepmother, Monica, to Fallon to start a new life.
“It was pretty difficult to leave because of all of my family was there,” Mariah said. “I grew up with my cousins and they all still live there. Moving was really hard for me to make new friends. Fallon was a lot bigger than Gabbs.”
Mariah’s grandfather, Ronnie, is the chairman of the Yomba Shoshone Tribal Council. She remembers her grandfather telling her stories about when he was young and learning through her tribe’s outdoor activities.
“When I was younger we’d ride horses and hang out when they were branding cows,” she said. “We’d also have Yomba Nature Days, a young kids camp on the reservation where we’d learn how to do things. I learned how to split willows.
“It’s still cool to go back to see and learn about our culture.”
Adjusting to a new culture took some time for Mariah, but she has thrived because of her commitment to education and a desire to work hard.
“Any challenge she has been presented with, she has set a goal and achieved it,” Monica said. “She’s definitely a pillar of her Native American community. She’s done community service, been employed, she’s an all-star athlete and excelling in her schoolwork; it’s amazing to see her do all that.”
The Jump Start program through WNC allowed Mariah to earn an Associate of Arts degree during her junior and senior years at Oasis Academy.
“It’s put me ahead in the game, which I’m thankful for,” Mariah said. “I’m the first of my immediate family to earn a degree.”
What brings even more pride to Monica and Ron is that Mariah has been preparing for the next step in her life.
“She’s not stopping,” Monica said. “She’s applied for 22 scholarships and been awarded four. She’s preparing for where she is going to live and has a year of car insurance set up.”
Ron works 80 miles away from his family in Gabbs but still finds time to coach youth sports. Like his daughter, he sees the value of higher education, taking college courses to pursue a business degree.
“I couldn’t be more proud of her for how hard she’s worked, setting goals, striving for them and following through with them,” he said.
Next, Mariah plans to attend University of Nevada, Reno and study pharmacy, then work on a doctorate degree. She attended an orientation at UNR with her family on Thursday.
“I’ve always wanted to study in the medical field,” Mariah said. “I have a desire to help and serve people. I really love chemistry and biology, which I’m good at. Pharmacy has always interested me, the different medications, the different things that go into them and how they cure certain diseases.
“I’ve always valued education as something I wanted to do to get out of a small town. This is my dream.”