Priority is building relationships and identifying resources for American Indian students
Daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, relative to all people is how Deborah Esquibel Hunt, PhD, first defines herself. As the newest director in the CU Denver Equal Opportunity Programs, Hunt also is experienced and accomplished in numerous professional roles.
Born and raised in Arizona, her family roots are Cherokee, English and Scandinavian. She is a state recognized member of the Cherokee Tribe of Northeast Alabama.
Hunt’s heritage gives her a unique perspective for working with American Indian students on campus through CU Denver’s Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP). The office provides a range of services for underrepresented students including mentoring, tutoring, leadership development, connections to campus resources, as well as sponsoring cultural programming. This semester, nearly 300 students that self-identify as American Indian or Alaska Native are enrolled here in graduate and undergraduate programs.
“My first priority is to build relationships and to identify resources for American Indian students,” Hunt said. “I am very excited to be a part of Educational Opportunity Programs, Office of Diversity and Inclusion and to see how I can contribute to the campus-wide efforts to support the dreams and success of American Indian and other underrepresented students.”
“Our students come to the university with so much intellectual capital,” Hunt said. “We need to recognize, showcase and elevate that. There are Indigenous scholars in every field who can contribute unique and essential views.”
Prior to coming to CU Denver, Hunt worked in mental health, education and non-profit social services; and with and on behalf of American Indian people in higher education, K-12 education, non-profit agencies focused tribal higher education, and on Indian family preservation and Indian Child Welfare. She currently serves on the board of directors for Denver Indian Family Resource Center
Hunt completed a bachelor’s in psychology; double masters’ in social work and marriage and family therapy; and she earned a doctorate in social work in 1993 at the University of Utah.
A published author on child welfare, Hunt helped lead Colorado’s efforts to comply with the federal Indian Child Welfare Act; provided legislative testimony that assisted in Colorado’s passage of a unique state statute, regulations, and procedures for state and county judicial staff and human service workers engaged with American Indian families.
Most recently, she directed a grant from the Lilly Endowment at the American Indian College Fund that helped develop the intellectual capital found at 32 accredited tribal colleges and universities across the country.
Hunt’s office is located in the North Classroom Building on the Auraria Campus.