Navajo Technical University celebrates graduates receiving certificates

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

CROWNPOINT — Navajo Technical University bestowed certificates in technical or vocational programs on 37 graduates who decided to participate in spring commencement on May 14.

University officials divided the ceremony into two groups to comply with the Navajo Nation government's guidelines for COVID-19 safety and large gatherings.

Commencement for those receiving certificates or GED diplomas was honored in the morning. Graduates who earned associate degrees or bachelor's degrees were honored in the afternoon.

Navajo Technical University President Elmer Guy, right, gives an elbow bump to a graduate during the first part of spring commencement on May 14 in Crownpoint.

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NTU President Elmer Guy explained that those who earned master's degrees will be recognized in July.

Like many colleges and universities across the United States, NTU implemented measures addressing COVID-19 to keep students and staff safe on campus.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic shifting education to blended learning, the graduating class did not deter from their goals, Guy said.

Each graduate was allowed two guests. Guests were situated behind the graduates.

Dewayne Frank, of Sanostee, selected his father and sister to attend.

Dewayne Frank fastens a boutonniere to his graduation stole prior to the start of the spring commencement on May 14 at Navajo Technical University in Crownpoint.

Frank called his certificate in electrical trades a "huge milestone" and is pursuing the profession because he finds it interesting.

He added that he did not mind the restrictions placed on graduation because they keep people safe.

For Victoria Henry, earning a certificate in culinary arts is one more step in her educational journey, which started in December 2013 when she earned a GED diploma.

Henry, of Becenti, earned an associate degree in culinary arts in 2019 and will graduate in December with an associate degree in baking.

These certificates and degrees will help her skills as the cook at the NTU Child Care Center.

"I was telling my children that I never thought I would be here. I'm excited," Henry said.

Victoria Henry makes adjustments to her hair before the start of spring commencement at Navajo Technical University on May 14 in Crownpoint.

NASA Mechanical Engineer Aaron Yazzie gave the commencement address in a video filmed at his home in Los Angeles.

He commended the graduates for their perseverance and navigating obstacles caused by the pandemic.

"It's still yours to celebrate," Yazzie said about the subdued commencement.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

Graduates shield themselves from sunlight during spring commencement at Navajo Technical University on May 14 in Crownpoint.

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