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South alum graduates Columbia magna cum laude


Columbia architecture graduate honored for scholarship, activism

May 21, 2017—Elsa Matossian Hoover (Algonquin Anishinaabe) of Minneapolis has received her bachelor’s degree in architecture magna cum laude from Columbia University in New York City. For her leadership in the campus Indigenous community, Elsa was awarded the Charles M. Rolker Prize as the graduating senior judged by classmates as “most worthy of special distinction.” 

A member of the NYC Stands with Standing Rock Collective, the honor student made Indigenous organizing in New York a major part of her college life. Mobilizing student resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline, Elsa contributed to the nationally noted Standing Rock Syllabus and co-produced the Standing Rock “teach-in” at Columbia last October. The University recognized her leadership with the King’s Crown Excellence Award for civic responsibility. Elsa also served as Coordinator of Manhattan House, an Indigenous residence for Columbia students.

An architecture major focusing on design for Indigenous peoples, Elsa completed independent research on housing and blood quantum and received the Marcia Mead Design Award. She gained additional experience as a research assistant at Pyatt Studio (Colorado), an intern at The Piegan Institute and Cuts Wood Blackfeet Immersion School (Montana), and a graphic designer at Rez Made (Montana).

Supported by Columbia’s Henry Evans Traveling Fellowship, Elsa will pursue a project on storytelling and belonging in First Nations between the United States and Canada. She is a 2013 graduate of South High School in Minneapolis.