by Meredith Hunt
W. P. Carey School of Business, 2024
Jamelyn Ebelacker has taken a circuitous route to her current position as a full-time MBA student at Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business. After a childhood toggling between Eagle River, Alaska, and Santa Clara Pueblo in northern New Mexico, Jamelyn chose to study New Media Arts at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe.
Coming from generations of Pueblo potters who make traditional “red and black” pottery, she chose a more modern path – a decision encouraged by her elders. “They wanted me to broaden my horizons as much as possible and learn new things to be able to survive in a non-Indigenous world,” Jamelyn explains.
After college, Jamelyn joined the Peace Corps. “I also come from a long line of warriors and military service people,” she says. “When it came time to decide how I would serve, I chose to serve in the Peace Corps, and was stationed in the Eastern Caribbean (2017-20).”
Jamelyn initially worked as a primary school English teacher on the islands of Dominica and Saint Lucia, and she chose to extend her service to work with nearly 100 volunteers across four islands to implement projects that addressed the specific challenges of those Caribbean communities. “This was a pivotal moment where I developed a passion for project management and producing,” Jamelyn explains.
When the pandemic curtailed her Peace Corps stint in 2020, she found herself back home, with a deflated sense of purpose. She soon put her production experience and arts background to use and began working as a creative producer for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) organizations to address social and racial justice challenges in communities across the United States. The work, Jamelyn says, “filled her cup and revitalized that sense of purpose,” but she lacked the skills to make the full impact she desired. “I didn’t have the complete set of skills necessary to help these organizations make strategic business moves or market themselves effectively. I recognized that I had a great deal more to learn about marketing, entrepreneurship, consulting, and finance, which I only had surface level knowledge of,” she explains.
To gain more business acumen, Jamelyn enrolled in Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business, where she is currently in her first year, concentrating in Consulting, with a minor in Entrepreneurship. “I am excited to translate this wealth of knowledge into a continued career helping organizations develop meaningful projects and initiatives, and build community,” she explains.
As she gains the skills to serve her ultimate goal, she carries on the traditions of her Pueblo heritage. “Every interaction is an opportunity for education,” she says. “While I am constantly learning from my elders and those around me, I also have a responsibility to educate and represent my people, and to carry on the traditions and knowledge that my ancestors fought for.” Maintaining her connection to her Indigenous community, as she navigates her MBA journey, is crucial. “In the business world, it is easy to lose sight of what is truly important. To be able to draw on my cultural teachings and values as I move through this MBA program is so powerful for me, and I am grateful to be an Indigenous woman in business.”
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Ebelacker has been selected as Arizona State University’s 2024 Martin Luther King Jr. Student Servant-Leadership awardee and will be honored on Jan. 18 as part of ASU’s annual MLK Jr. Celebration Breakfast.