Chief Manuelito scholars honored in awards ceremony
Only one third of college students graduate without debt. The rest need to balance a mix of scholarships, loans and savings.
FARMINGTON — Navajo Preparatory School graduate LeAndrea M. Beyal said she screamed when she opened the letter that announced her selection to receive a Chief Manuelito Scholarship.
The annual $7,000 scholarship is awarded to Navajo students who excel academically and it is based on a student's ACT or SAT scores, a final high school GPA and completion of Navajo language and government classes.
Beyal, who lives in Coyote Canyon, is one of 147 students to receive the award this year.
The group's achievement was recognized in an awards ceremony Friday at the Henderson Fine Arts Center at San Juan College.
"It's very helpful because the college that I'm going to is out of state," Beyal said.
Beyal has received scholarships and grant to meet tuition for the University of Evansville in Indiana.
Those financial awards, including the Chief Manuelito Scholarship, have reduced her out-of-pocket cost to approximately $7,000, she said.
Beyal added she decided on the university in order to experience a diverse student population and the school's finance and accounting program is ranked No. 1.
Destinee D. Dale graduated from Navajo Prep as well and will attend New Mexico State University, which she selected because of its pre-veterinary program.
"I think it's a really great honor," Dale said about the scholarship.
"It takes a lot of hard work and it reflects on what you were trying for throughout your high school years," she said.
Keynote speaker Martha Dailey received the scholarship in 1991.
"This is the award I received that day. I still have it," Dailey said while holding the medal she received 26 years ago during a ceremony in Window Rock, Arizona.
Since then, she earned a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in American Indian Studies, both from the University of Arizona.
As she looked at the students, she said they are helping sustain the vision Chief Manuelito had for the Navajo people in terms achieving education.
"His vision is being manifested through your successes and your achievements in high school," Dailey said. "Now the real test is going to be how you're going to carry that onto your higher education."
In separate speeches, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez spoke about their experiences in college.
Part of college life for Nez included surviving on Ramen noodles and seeking help when classes became challenging at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona.
"There are some great folks in those colleges that you are going to. They are willing to help you and you just have to ask," Nez said.
"If you stick with it, you can accomplish great things," he added.
In Begaye's comments, he reminded the students that they now carry the honor of being Chief Manuelito scholars.
"That's a high status on Navajo. When you have received this scholarship, you have some brains – that's what it means," the president said.
Randall R. Marshall, who graduated from Kirtland Central High School, said he had no plans to apply for the scholarship but an adviser at the school encouraged him to submit the application.
Marshall said he is the first person in his family to receive the award and he will be the first to move outside the area to attend college.
"To get this scholarship, it means a lot to me," he said. "It's such a distinct title and to actually be known as a Chief Manuelito scholar is pretty cool."
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.
Northern Agency recipients
This list includes students served by the Shiprock location for the Office of Navajo Nation Scholarship and Financial Assistance. The students' names, high schools they graduated from and the college they will attend are listed.
Marcus W. Amrine, Montezuma-Cortez High School, Colorado State University
Kody R. Becenti, Farmington High School, University of New Mexico
Jennifer A. Begay, Bosque School, Colorado College
Jordan A. Begay, Kirtland Central High School, Northern Arizona University
Kevin R. Begay, Shiprock High School, Stanford University
Kendra N. Benallie, Kirtland Central High School, University of New Mexico
KeaNani A. Benally, San Juan High School, Southern Utah University
LeAndrea M. Beyal, Navajo Preparatory School, University of Evansville
Angel R. Y. Bridges, Piedra Vista High School, Southwestern Assemblies of God University
Jaden S. Chavez, Bloomfield High School, Fort Lewis College
Shanell R. Chavez, Kirtland Central High School, Northern Arizona University
Destinee D. Dale, Navajo Preparatory, New Mexico State University
Kyler R. Edwards, Piedra Vista High School, New Mexico State University
Jeramy Frank, Piedra Vista High School, Stony Brook University
Kailey S. Fundark, Piedra Vista High School, Fort Lewis College
Jaime Gomez Jr., Arrowhead Park Early College High School, New Mexico State University
Sara C. Gurule, Navajo Preparatory School, New Mexico State University
Chuntay J. Hatten, Kirtland Central High School, Columbia University
Ivie L. Herrera, Kirtland Central High School, Arizona State University
Alyssa S. Herrod, Piedra Vista High School, Fort Lewis College
Hannah S. Iverson, Las Vegas Academy of the Arts, Brigham Young University
Diamond Jones, Navajo Preparatory School, Northern Arizona University
Ian Kee, Kirtland Central High School, Columbia University
Elijah J. Keeswood, Volcano Vista High School, University of Arizona
Kai L. Lameman, Red Mesa High School, Southern Utah University
Randall R. Marshall, Kirtland Central High School, University of Arizona
Elanndria L. Martin, Piedra Vista High School, New Mexico State University
Phyllis J. Martinez, Navajo Preparatory School, Fort Lewis College
Luke C. Nez, Kirtland Central High School, University of New Mexico
Ashton W. Pahe, Kirtland Central High School, Northern Arizona University
Tavis K. Parsons, Piedra Vista High School, Northern Arizona University
Tamia A. Pete, Farmington High School, New Mexico State University
McKenzey R. Peter, Kirtland Central High School, San Juan College
Lynsey L. Pinto, Kirtland Central High School, University of New Mexico
Cheyenne K. Poyer, Navajo Preparatory School, New Mexico State University
Shauntel J. Redhouse, Kirtland Central High School, Arizona State University
Destiny N. Rockwell, Shiprock High School, Bacone College
Laney A. Shorthair, Kirtland Central High School, Johnson & Wales University
Dayton N. Singer, Shiprock High School, Fort Lewis College
Jaida M. Smith, Piedra Vista High School, University of New Mexico
Skyenne M. Soriano, Navajo Preparatory School, Smith College
Nizhoni L. Tallas, Navajo Preparatory School, Virginia Polytech and State University
Justin R. Tsosie, Red Mesa High School, Arizona State University
Taishiana L. Tsosie, Navajo Preparatory School, Susquehanna University
Alyssa R. Wilson, Navajo Preparatory School, McPherson College
Kaley M. Yazzie, La Joya Community High School, Arizona State University
Taton L. Yazzie, Farmington High School, University of New Mexico
Erika Yellowhair, Kirtland Central High School, Brigham Young University
Source: Office of Navajo Nation Scholarship and Financial Assistance