Diné College graduates 210 in its 50th year

Special to the Times | Ray Landry
President Monty Roessel speaks to the graduates during the 2018 commencement ceremony at the Diné College Tsaile campus on May 11.

TSAILE, Ariz.

Fifty years ago, said Diné College President Charles “Monty” Roessel, BIA officials scoffed when then-tribal chairman Raymond Nakai told them the tribe was founding its own college.

As of last Friday, when the college celebrated its 46th commencement by awarding a record 210 degrees and certificates, it was up to eight bachelor’s programs, with the two newest — psychology and biology — graduating their first cohorts. “It was a unique experience … magnificent … enchanting … electrifying,” enthused Sheldon Begay of Rock Point, Arizona, of pioneering the new bachelor’s degree in psychology along with seven other students.

Asked why he chose to get his degree at Diné College, he turned the question around. “Why not Diné College?” he asked. Begay said he planned to go on for a master’s at the University of North Dakota, then “come back and help my community.” Tisha Vicenti likewise enjoyed being a part of a cohort of six for the new bachelor’s degree in biology. “The six of us came really close,” she said. “We definitely helped each other. I think it’s significant that all six of us who started, graduated.”

Vicenti said she chose Diné College because she didn’t come from a traditional family and wanted to learn Diné traditional ways. “That’s what I would like to continue with my future family,” she said.

Like every graduating class at Diné College, the Class of 2018 had a few celebs … popular singer Sage Bond had completed her AA in liberal arts, along with releasing a new album this year. “It was a stressful year,” she admitted. Bond, from Cow Springs, Arizona, stayed fairly local for her AA so she could help out her family, but is thinking of going out of state for her bachelor’s in music, possibly IAIA.

Felisha Adams, a small business consultant who ran unsuccessfully for New Mexico State Senate in 2016, received her bachelor’s in business administration and is headed to law school. She was the student body representative on the college’s board of regents.


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Categories: Education

About Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi' Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at editor@navajotimes.com.