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Diné (Navajo)
Diné College

Yá’át’ééh (greetings),

I am Navajo and live in Tselani Springs, Arizona on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Northern Arizona. I am of the Towering House Clan born for the Tangle People Clan and my maternal/paternal grandfathers’ clans are of the Bitterwater Clan.

In the summer of 2006 I married my husband, Patrick, in a reservation wedding in Blue Gap, Arizona. Marriage was a new life to me, but a whole new outlook on family took front of mind. In the summer of 2007, I gave birth to my son, Kennedy. Soon after, I followed my husband to Nevada. Two years later, my daughter Ava was born. I was a stay-at-home mom and wife.
In the spring of 2011, the economy and housing market in Las Vegas took a sharp nose dive, and my husband lost his job. That very next day, we ended our lease and packed up the kids and drove nine hours home. I asked my mom to watch my kids for three days while we returned to Nevada and packed our life to return home to the reservation with just the essentials and the hope for a better life.

CherylWe moved to the one-room 16’ hogan (Navajo round house) in the isolated region of central Navajoland. There is no running water, electricity, or refrigeration at the hogan. We haul water and firewood weekly and built an outhouse. I have installed two windows, a door, glass block windows near the door side (my creativity), and a Native pattern in stucco for siding. I have applied for electricity and water services. I’m proud to be home.

Still, I knew there was something missing—a college degree. My passion to get an education was still there, but after we returned, I told my husband I didn’t know if I could go back to school after so many years. I would probably be the oldest in my class and as usual we couldn’t afford it. I didn’t have a job to pay for school, the roads might be bad to commute, I couldn’t afford gas, and he was still unemployed. He told me, “You can do anything if you put your mind to it. I know you can do this.” He is supporting my decision because he says he knows how important my education is to me. He said, “The Creator is looking out for us and the kids will always appreciate your sacrifice. You are proving to them how important school is to you and is for them as well.”

I knew that going to a tribal college would be beneficial to me, my people and future Native generations. I have never regretted a single semester. My educational endeavors are built on self-determination and the importance of education for my family and self. I have struggled far too long to go through any more hardships. I know life will always have its ups and downs, but there is always hope to learn, strive, endure, conquer, and succeed.

I plan to earn my associates’ degrees in liberal arts and social and behavioral science at Diné College. I want to continue to earn my bachelor’s degree in Navajo/Diné Indian Studies, and would like to teach young folks the heritage and beauty of the Navajo culture, language, and arts.

A dream is built on the hope, faith, love, and generosity of the people who believe in the dream. Thank you for your support of American Indian scholars.


04-04-2012 at 12:40 PM
What you are doing is very important, never give up!
08-04-2014 at 4:52 PM
Gloria Callaci
Your story is one of the reasons I'm happy to support the American Indian College Fund. Keep up the good work and so will I!
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