Marco Ovando is the kind of Bronco that we all want to know.
Originally from Owyhee, Nevada and studying political science as a junior at Boise State, Marco has accomplished a lot not only during his time on campus, but in his hometown community as well. A citizen of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribe of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation, Marco sprung into action during the early months of COVID-19 pandemic when he noticed that some information around his tribe was slow and, sometimes, incorrect.
To ensure the spread of accurate and reliable information spread across his tribe, Ovando created the Office of Public Relations for his tribal community. This included using social media to relate COVID-19 information and its specific relation to the community as well as implementing signs and readerboards. They even began to stream tribal council meetings live on Facebook Live, modernizing an event that you used to have to be physically present to see. While there had never been an office with a similar objective before, Marco feels that it has set a positive precedent for the future and even allows for future branding and opportunities for the community as a whole.
This dedication and servant leadership didn’t stop there for Marco. Last year, he was selected to speak in a virtual hearing to the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples, highlighting struggles of mental health for indigenous people. Ovando was even able to have an in-depth, one-on-one conversation with then-Representative Deb Haaland — now Secretary of the Interior — the first Native American woman to serve as a Cabinet secretary.
Although initially a nerve-racking experience, Marco was enlightened to see that with, “the titles and labels stripped away, Congresspeople were real people.” He said it was a captivating meeting with Secretary Haaland. They had a positive conversation discussing their very similar life experiences and also that being able to articulate the need for adequate resources to address the mental health needs of indigenous communities — with someone who understood the communities in question — was incredibly inspiring.
This focus on mental health is even more important in a month like November, which is Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month. 1 in 10 men experience depression and anxiety and forty-nine percent of men feel more depressed than they admit to the people in their life. However, men are significantly less likely to voice their struggles with mental health, even if those struggles involve thoughts of self-harm.
Ovando says that our society as a whole is, “headed in the right direction” in terms of destigmatizing mental health, especially for men, but also realizes, as I’m sure many of us do, that there is still much work to be done.
When asked what advice he would give to men at Boise State or across Idaho who may be struggling with mental health, he noted the resources provided on campus via University Health, the importance of having a solid group of friends, and reminding oneself that, “it’s okay to take a break”.
Aside from being a full-time student and serving the community, Marco likes to go hiking and biking in the Boise Foothills, hang out with friends, and go to music festivals.
Marco is the kind of Bronco we all want to know. His dedication as a leader not only inspires those on campus, but across Boise, Idaho, and even beyond.