Erica Ben (Diné), Path Breakers Coordinator

Path Breakers Program Staff

Erica Ben

Rhonda Valenzuella
(Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians)
Student Assistant

Ronson Souza
(Native Hawaiian)
Academic Advisor

Center Location
College of the Desert Palm Springs Campus
Room Kwan Su’plli’ (PS-06)
1300 E. Baristo Rd.
Palm Springs, CA 92262

Mon, Wed, Thur 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM
Tues and Fri – Remote
By appointment as well


Phone: 760-203-5459

San Manuel Seal

About the Path Breakers Program

Funded by a generous grant from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, the Path Breakers Program is a forward-looking program designed to help students prepare for the “what comes next” in their academic or professional career. It aims to meet students “where they are at” and, over the course of their tenure with CINC, prepare them to successfully transition to their post-CINC goals.

For many students, this will be a transfer to a four-year institution. For others, it will be pursuing careers or vocational programs (N.B., CINC does not currently offer vocational programs). Native American students often face numerous challenges transitioning from the reservation or the tribal college experience to life in a major university. Path Breakers offers a summer experience week, workshops throughout the academic year, one-on-one mentoring, post-CINC follow-up, and early access to college tours and student programs at other campuses. The goal is to identify challenges – academically, culturally, and socially – students face transitioning to a university and to build programs and opportunities to mitigate those challenges.

From Erica Ben, Path Breakers Coordinator

Path Breakers Calendar of Events

Bird Singing and Bird Dancing Lessons

February 27 @ 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm

Explore the rich cultural heritage of the Serrano Cahuilla people from the Santa Rosa Band of Indians through an immersive experience in the ancient oral tradition of Bird Singing and Dancing. Join the esteemed ELDER KIM MARCUS as he guides participants in the intricacies of this time-honored practice, offering a unique opportunity to delve into the historical and cultural significance of Bird Singing and Dancing within the indigenous community. Immerse yourself in the wisdom and traditions passed down through generations, gaining a deeper understanding of the cultural tapestry woven by the Serrano Cahuilla people.

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Storytelling w/Brian Frejo

February 29 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Discover the magic of Native stories and their profound healing effects at our upcoming event featuring Brian Frejo (Pawnee & Seminole Nation of Oklahoma). Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with ancient wisdom!

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Cahuilla Language Immersion Workshop

March 7 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Please join us in Room PS03 to learn about the Cahuilla Language led by Kim Marcus, our Elder in Residence. This cultural session is open to all students, staff, and community members. Light refreshments will be served.

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