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Thank you for the opportunity, motivation to pursue my passions

LEUPP, Ariz.

This year, 86 students earned the prestigious Chief Manuelito Scholarship based on ACT scores, GPA, and Navajo culture coursework.

The scholarship awards $7,000 per academic year.

The scholarship was established in 1980 to recognize high-achieving high school graduates. It is named in honor of Chief Manuelito, who encouraged young Navajos to take the ladder of education to achieve success and preserve Navajo culture.

The students were honored on Aug. 12 in a ceremony at Twin Arrows Casino.

The following six students responded to an invitation to submit statements and photographs for publication in the Navajo Times.

Dayja Pollins

Dayja Pollins

Yá’átééh, shí éí Keyonna Dayja Pollins yinishyé. Kiyaa’áanii dine’é éí nishłį. Naahiłii dine’é éí báshíshcíín. Mą’ii deeshgiizhinii dine’é éí dashicheii. Naahiłii dine’ é éí dashinálí.

Hello, my name is Keyonna Dayja Pollins. I am from the Towering House Clan, born for African American. My maternal grandfather is Coyote Pass Clan and my paternal grandfather is African American.

I am so grateful for the Manuelito scholarship, not only for helping me on my journey through college but also for directly paving a path back to my culture.

It is easy to get lost in school and work, but there is always a piece of home that travels with everyone. This program helped me to rediscover parts of my culture that I have not connected with since elementary school, which makes me understand and appreciate even more about my K’e.

They have been with me every step of the way. It is comforting to know that the Hunter family and Cody family believe in me and will always have my back.

I especially want to take time to thank my maternal grandparents, William and Mabel Hunter. From the time I was born, they have always been a big part of my life.

When I was a baby, they helped my mom take care of me when she was pursuing her doctorate. They taught me some Navajo and Spanish, helped me grow strong, intelligent, and brave.

They are always willing to answer all of my questions, even better than Google. A big part of choosing which college I wanted depended on how far away I would be from them, my mom, my dad and the rest of my family.

Throughout my childhood, everyone in my family was able to play a part in helping me become the young woman I am today.

Someday like my grandparents, I too want to be able to have a big impact on future generations. In the meanwhile, I will begin my journey at Arizona State University this fall. Ahéheeʼ!

Caleb Bahe Ketchum

Caleb Ketchum

“Yá’át’ééh shí éí Caleb Bahe Ketchum yíníshyé’. Kinyaa’áanii nishłį́. Áshįįhí ’éí bá shíshchíín. Ma’iideeshgiizhnii ’éí dashicheii. Tł’ízí Łání ’éí dashinálí. Naatsisʼáán déé’ naashá.

Thank you to all my family, friends, and teachers for giving me the opportunity and motivation to pursue my passions and interests.

Being a recipient of the Chief Manuelito Scholarship is a huge honor and I cannot thank ONNSFA enough.

I will be pursuing a computer engineering degree at Stanford University with the intention to give back to the Navajo Nation in the future.

My Navajo community will always be a source of motivation as I continue my studies.

Having supportive family, friends, and teachers has made the journey to college much more enjoyable and stress-free. They made all of my achievements possible. A’he’hee.”

Mya Benally

Mya Benally

Navajo Preparatory School

Bowdoin College

Shiprock Agency

Entering college as a freshman in a completely new setting is scary.

I was able to start my college journey early through a summer institute at Bowdoin College in Maine in July.

Though I’m so many geographical miles away from home, there are similarities of how Brunswick, Maine, feels so much like my hometown in Kirtland, New Mexico.

Being able to have this opportunity is once in a lifetime.

My mom instilled one of my most important teachings that I still carry with me and that is to always finish what I start. With that I was able to get accepted into a great college and continue my education.

I hope to major in government with minor in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies and environment studies to hopefully attend law school after my undergraduate degree.

I want to give a huge thank you to my mom, Cheryl R. Benally, my older sisters Jessica Benally, Tami Benally and Tifah Benally, my brother Christian Benally, and niece Skye Benally for supporting me to push harder and further, to realize my potential that I didn’t know I had.

I want to give a shout-out to my uncle Stuart for driving me to and from school and being one my biggest soccer supporters.

To my lovely Shínalí Asdzaan Elovonne Benally, Shínalí Hastiin Chester Benally, and my late Shimasaní Lorraine N Yazzie for instilling the Navajo teachings and ways of life at a young age. For being my very first teachers and supporting me through school and sports!

I want to give a thank you to my college prep advisor at Navajo Prep, Darah Tabrum, who radiated the most positive energy and guidance throughout high school.

Lastly, thank you to my family in Colorado, Jason Benally and Crystal Delgai, for letting me retreat to your home to gain your advice about controversial topics, life, college or a landing pad to hang out and eat good food.

I hope to accomplish great things at Bowdoin College.

Tynya Taylor Kee

Tynya Kee

Yá’át’ééh shí éí Tynya Taylor Kee yinishyé. Adoone’e nishlinigi éí. Tódík’ǫ́zhí nishłį́, Tł’ízí Łání bashishchiin. Naakai dashicheii. Ma’ii Deeshgiizhinii dashinalí.

Ákót’éego diné asdzáán nishłį́. Old Cedar déé’ naashá. Shimá dóó shizhé’é éí Tanya Begaye dóó Tyrone Kee wolyé.

My name is Tynya Taylor Kee. I am Salt Water Clan, born for Many Goats Clan. My maternal grandfather’s clan is Mexican and my paternal grandfather’s clan is Coyote Pass.

I graduated from Pinon High as the class of 2022 valedictorian and I will be pursuing a bachelor’s degree in forestry at Northern Arizona University.

I was greatly inspired to work in the forestry field to help combat and find solutions to urgent issues such as climate change that our community as well as the rest of the world faces. I want to help educate and teach my nation how to conserve, preserve and live sustainably as our ancestors have done.

I’d like to thank my parents who are my first teachers and my top supporters. They always have faith in me and motivate me to continue my education.

Thank you to my family and relatives, my grandparents, and great grandparents for their prayers and support for me to have a good education and to be in good health.

Thank you to my teachers for contributing to my academic knowledge and achievements.

Finally, thank you to the Office of Navajo Nation Scholarship & Financial Assistance for your generosity in awarding me the Chief Manuelito Scholarship.

I am greatly honored and humbled as I start my journey in higher education and I hope to return soon to help my community and my people. Ahéhee’

Maria Kate Moreno

Maria Moreno

Ingleside, Texas

Thank you to my family, especially my parents and older sisters, for aiding me through my academic journey. You guys have provided me with everything I have ever needed and continue to support my goals.

The compassion you guys sprout persistently pushes me to obtain success, not only for myself but for others.

Thank you to my tribe, the Navajo Nation, for presenting me with the Chief Manuelito Scholarship.

You have increased my goal’s success rate by aiding in the pursuit of my higher education. I plan to graduate from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi with a bachelor’s of biomedical sciences. I then plan to attend medical school to obtain a doctorate to become an ER physician.

My biggest thank you to everyone in my life for blessing me with this opportunity. I promise to continuously strive to accomplish every obstacle in my way.

Al Red

Al Red

I’d first like to express my overwhelming gratitude for receiving this scholarship. Not many have the honor of being awarded such, so I’m glad that I was given this opportunity.

I’d also like to give a huge thanks to my parents, family and friends. They were always there for me every step of the way supporting what I did and helping me get through tough times, especially academically.

Without them, I’m not sure I would’ve even tried.

Now I’m able to achieve even more with the help of this scholarship, which is something that I won’t take for granted.


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