The path from first-generation student transferring from a technical college to a being hired as the first Native American faculty member at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, was an unexpected one for Doug Kiel.
Originally from Twin Lakes, the citizen of the Oneida Nation found himself on the UW- Whitewater campus unsure of what he wanted to study; he soon met faculty mentors who steered him toward the McNair Scholars Program, an individualized major in American Indian Studies and, eventually, a master’s degree and doctorate in history later earned at UW-Madison.
Kiel found the faculty and staff to be very supportive as he transitioned to campus. Roger Pulliam, director of Academic Support Services, walked him down the hall to meet Richard McGregory, the longtime director of the McNair Scholars Program. Kiel cites faculty members Steven Salaita, Paula Mohan and Tony Gulig as spurring him academically in English, political science and history, respectively.
As he developed his research interest in American Indian studies, advisers helped him create an individualized major that included traveling to UW-Green Bay for Oneida language courses.
On campus, Kiel founded the Native American Cultural Awareness Association with a few other Native students. The student organization was a big factor in Kiel’s positive experience on campus and led to an enduring friendship with another Oneida student, social work major Brian Wilson. It also launched the Native Pride Lecture Series, which Kiel returned to speak at in March.
Kiel divides his time between Williamstown, Massachusetts, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where his partner, Beatriz Reyes, is earning a doctor of public health from Drexel University. He also returns to Wisconsin to spend time with his parents, Brenda and Jim, and his brothers, Luke and Adam.