Tahnee Caraballo is a graduate of Algoma University’s Law and Justice program and is currently preparing for the third year of her Juris Doctorate from the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at Lakehead University. The decision to begin her academic journey at Algoma University was deeply rooted.
At first, Caraballo wasn’t sure university was where she belonged. She applied to both Sault College and Algoma University and was surprised to receive acceptance to both. She recalled, “I didn’t want to go to a bigger university. I’m kind of shy at times and the smaller atmosphere, being able to talk to your professors really appealed to me.”
The decision to begin her academic journey at Algoma University was deeply rooted.
“My gram, which is my mother’s mother, her father was Dan Pine who was a traditional healer and is well known throughout the community. Through my Papa Pine, I am related to Chief Shingwauk who is my great-great-great-grandpa, so it just made sense to go to Algoma U because it had ties to Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig and I wanted to stay close to home,” noted Caraballo of her decision to enrol at Algoma University.
For Caraballo, it was about more than just attaining an education. She expressed, “I don’t want to say I didn’t know who I was, but it kind of made me come full circle as to this is who I am, this is where I come from, so it kind of just added that extra sense of accomplishment just by going to Algoma U.”
Caraballo, who questioned her ability to study at the university level, was quickly reassured by her professors. Caraballo credits the support of Dr. Kelly DeLuca, Dr. Julian Hermida and Professor Don Jackson, referring to them as “the best” and “second to none” for the role they played in her confidence and academic success.
In addition to succeeding academically, Caraballo was active in student life as a member of the Shingwauk Anishinaabe Students’ Association (SASA). Her involvement afforded her the opportunity to, as she shared, “Connect with culture a bit more and seek out my identity as a person. I made my first jingle dress and I did my first beading.” Caraballo also completed all the coursework for Anishinaabemowin.
Recently, Caraballo was one of four speakers invited back to Algoma University to participate in an Anishinaabe Alumni Panel. “I really love Algoma U and I would do anything for them because without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today, so it was a very honorable experience to take part in and something I was very proud of.”
“Algoma U is the perfect gateway to do more with your life,” she acknowledged of the personalized education she received at Algoma University. “You come out a stronger person academically, personally and professionally and the possibilities after you graduate are endless and I want students to know that makes it worthwhile and fulfilling.”
Caraballo intends on returning to Sault Ste. Marie after completing her law degree to practice Indigenous law. “Focussing on Aboriginal law is very important to me because I feel like I owe it to the Aboriginal peoples in Canada and of course my own community. I feel like my community is depending on me to make a positive change and I don’t want to let them down.”
Through her studies, Caraballo continues to actualize her true potential, proudly representing herself, her family, her community and Algoma University, exemplifying great responsibility, strength, and the capacity to succeed in all of her endeavours.
Written by: Jessica Ferlaino