Midterms are just about, if not completely, over for most colleges. Some students are returning back to school from fall break, hopefully, feeling rejuvenated.
It was usually around this time when I felt a little homesick because I always missed out on the first frost back on the rez and that meant Navajo (Yé’ii Bicheii) winter songs were allowed to be sung and played.
For me, its tune stores a vivid memory of waking up to a cold winter crisp morning and yé’ii bicheii songs playing on KTNN. That is what home feels like to me and it was those types of memories that helped me move forward in college.
College is not easy. I spent four years at Dickinson College near Carlisle Indian Industrial School – a place once populated by Native American students who were forced to spend part of their lives there.
However, during my time in college I always felt like the only Native American student in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, from 2013 to 2017.
Coming from a public high school on the reservation, I found the academics at Dickinson to be rigorous. There were days when I broke down crying in the middle of my reading because I felt I was not smart enough to understand my Marx-Engels assignment.
The first few weeks I sat in the classroom intimidated by students who seemed to have read. Every. Single. Book. Ever. Written.
Whereas I spent most of my childhood outdoors with my late másání who explained to me which Navajo herbs she prepared for healing purposes.
Again, memories like this were unforgettable in college. It motivated me to move from being a freshman to a sophomore, a sophomore to a junior, then unbelievably a junior to senior.
I know how challenging it can be for a Navajo college student coming from the Navajo Reservation. I commend all of you who took it upon yourselves to challenge yourself, your families, and your communities for the better.
Please, remember who you are as Diné. I hope college demands you to retrace your roots and to remind you of the importance of Navajo language just as it did for me. Once you are away from your Diné homelands you begin to realize all of its riches – the people, culture, language and land are irreplaceable.
So as a recent college graduate and as first runner-up in this year’s Miss Navajo Nation competition, I extend my support to current Navajo college students through gift packages put together by my family.
Gift packages include items such as: Tide Pods/Gain Flings, dryer sheets, tooth brush, tooth paste, dental floss, gift card, energy bars, Navajo Tea, Cracker Jacks, popcorn balls, study snacks, school supplies, and more.
In exchange for a gift package, I would like for current Navajo college students and/or parents to respond to ONE of the following prompts below by Nov. 6 at 5 p.m. (MST). (Parent responses will have a gift package delivered to their college son or daughter.)
Responses will be published in the Nov. 9 edition of the Navajo Times. Your voices and experiences are important for other Navajo college-bound students, especially for first-generation college students such as myself, so please consider this opportunity.
STUDENTS: Please answer ONE of the following in 2-3 paragraphs.
• How do you balance your language and/or culture identity with academics?
• Describe what motivated you and how you gave back to our community?
• What impacts generated your determination to apply or continue your college education?
PARENTS: Please answer ONE of the following in 1-2 paragraphs.
• What story of yours do you think influenced your college son or daughter to pursue an education?
• What obstacles did you have to overcome before you were able to accept your son or daughter going to college?
• How have you encouraged your college son or daughter to give back to our community? Why?
Please include: student name; college; class or year; hometown; clans; college mailing address; college student photo; parent(s) name.
DEADLINE: Responses must be emailed or postmarked by Monday, Nov. 6 at 5 p.m. (The first 20 completed applications will be guaranteed a shipped gift package by Thursday, Nov. 9.)
Responses may be emailed to [email protected] or mailed to P.O. 310 Window Rock, AZ 86515 (Attention: Ravonelle Yazzie).