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PNM, Navajo Nation agree to continue energy scholarship program

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
From left, Navajo Technical University Provost Colleen Bowman, PNM Resources Chairman, President
and CEO Pat Vincent-Collawn, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer and San Juan College President Toni Pendergrass signed the memorandum of understanding for the PNM Navajo Nation Workforce Training Scholarship Program on Dec. 20 in Window Rock, Arizona.

FARMINGTON — The Public Service Company of New Mexico is investing $500,000 to sustain a scholarship program to help Navajo students studying energy-related professions at either San Juan College or Navajo Technical University.

The scholarships are available under the PNM Navajo Nation Workforce Training Program, an initiative that started in 2013 to aid Navajo students in job training and schooling in energy industry trades.

PNM and the Navajo Nation partnered with San Juan College in Farmington and Navajo Technical University in Crownpoint to develop and administer the program.

It is designed to ensure the Four Corners area and the state has the trained workforce needed to fill existing and emerging jobs, according to a press release from the tribe's Office of the President and Vice President.

PNM Resources Chairman, President and CEO Pat Vincent-Collawn and Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez were among the officials who signed the memorandum of agreement on Dec. 20 to continue the program through 2025 at San Juan College and Navajo Technical University.

A press release from PNM Resources states that, to date, the program has provided close to 700 scholarships and has helped 337 Navajo students earn trade certificates, associate degrees and bachelor's degrees.

Byron Tsabetsaye, left, director of the Native American Center at San Juan College, announces the names of the 2018 PNM scholarship graduates during the April 24, 2018 graduation ceremony at the college's School of Energy in Farmington as Michael Benally, second to left, and Myron Charley receive their sashes and certificates.

"In the transition of moving New Mexico forward together and becoming 100% emissions-free by 2040, our continued partnership with the Navajo Nation continues to be a highly valued relationship. PNM is dedicated to the success of the Navajo workforce in the Four Corners area and today's signing of this memorandum of understanding demonstrates that," Vincent-Collawn said in the company's release.

Nez said in the release that PNM and the Navajo Nation understand the potential closure of the San Juan Generating Station will have an impact on the Navajo workforce.

"It is incumbent upon our nation and PNM to look to the future by joining forces to make it easier to pursue education and training for future job opportunities by fostering economic success through programs such as this," he said.

When the program was created in 2013, PNM committed $1 million – which was distributed at $200,000 over five years. The company release states the funding is provided by PNM shareholders, not its utility customers.

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.

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From left, Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, PNM Resources Chairman, President and CEO Pat Vincent-Collawn and San Juan College President Toni Pendergrass, who is shaking hands with student Harrison Clark during the April 17, 2014 reception for the PNM Navajo Nation Workforce Training Program at the college's Henderson Fine Arts Center in Farmington.