FARMINGTON — Graham Beyale, a 23-year-old Shiprock resident, came back from college to help his community.
Beyale started a volunteer youth group, the Northern Diné Youth Committee, that is bringing together high school and college students to carry out projects such as picking up trash and helping elders.
"We work together to, in a way, make this community a better place," he said.
He also cofounded the Healing Circle Drop-in Center in Shiprock. It started as a resource to help people dealing with alcoholism and substance abuse, but it has evolved into a community center, hosting classes, workshops and events.
Beyale graduated from Shiprock High School in 2008. He attended the University of New Mexico for three semesters before returning home and taking classes at Diné College. Beyale said he plans to continue his education at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. He is interested in pursuing silversmithing and jewelry-making.
Beyale said it was important for him to come back home to help.
"If I don't do it, then who will?" he said. "Growing up here, I've built a sense of obligation to take care of my community. It's only natural that if you live somewhere, that if you call somewhere your home, that you'll take care of it and maintain it." Beyale also works at the Shiprock Chapter House coordinating a summer youth program.
"He's very outgoing, very energetic and very creative," said chapter President Chili Yazzie.
He said Beyale supervises 70 to 80 students in the program.
"He's real busy," Yazzie said.
Beyale said he wants to build programs that last after seeing many well-intended programs fade in Shiprock.
"Growing up here, you get used to programs and businesses coming with these huge, grand ideas, and they just fail," he said. "I didn't want that for my programs."
Beyale said his generation is stepping up.
"I can see myself not even have to be at these events," he said. "There's just been so much empowerment from the youth."