'You've been given an honor': Chief Manuelito Scholarship recipients recognized
FARMINGTON — When David R. Wilson addressed the Chief Manuelito Scholarship recipients in a keynote address, he remarked on the privilege in receiving the prestigious award.
"You've been given an honor to represent the Navajo people in academia," Wilson said to the 114 recipients who received the scholarship in 2020 and were recognized in a virtual ceremony on March 3.
Wilson told the group to develop satisfaction from pursuing careers that make them happy, a lesson he learned after receiving the merit-based scholarship in the 1990s.
He arrived at Arizona State University with an interest in mechanical engineering but found his calling in research and science.
He holds a doctorate in molecular and cellular biology from ASU and became the first director of the Tribal Health Research Office at the National Institutes of Health in 2017.
"Remember, again, that you have the honor, but you also have the responsibility of representing our culture, our people and your families as you progress through academia. I know that you all will make us proud," he said.
Each year the Office of Navajo Nation Scholarship and Financial Assistance honors recipients in an awards ceremony, but the event in 2020 was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
There were 26 students from high schools in San Juan County who received the scholarship, established by the tribal government in 1980 and in honor of the Navajo leader, Manuelito.
Carolyn Calvin, senior public information officer with the office, explained that the pandemic "significantly impacted" the office's timeline for the scholarship, including postponing its deadline from June to November to accommodate students and schools operating remotely.
The unexpected transition from in-person to remote learning was mentioned in remarks by Department of Diné Education Interim Superintendent Patricia Gonnie, who praised recipients for achieving the award.
"You have persevered during these changed times of education. You invested in online learning and finished your final semester of high school career solidly," Gonnie said.
Chief Manuelito recipients from San Juan County schools
Bloomfield High School
Farmington High School
Aaliyah M. Juanico
Kirtland Central High School
Tayler Allison John
Navajo Preparatory School
Sky A. Harper
Miauaxochitl K. Haskie
Jason R. Joe
Kamia S. Leano
Drueh Emanuel Lii'bilNaghahi
Filisi U. Magua
Alyssa Alexandria Nez
Sheyenne Bahozhni Taylor
Newcomb High School
Elijah Adam Begay
Nathan H. Benally
Addy Lynn Yazzie
Piedra Vista High School
Amaya Banizhoni Garnenez
Mira Lynae Salt
San Juan College High School
Niesha Z. Benallie
Shiprock High School
Source: Office of Navajo Nation Scholarship and Financial Assistance
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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