Yazzie becomes campus leader at CNM
Shí éí Rachel Yazzie yinishyé. Tó’aheedlíinii nishłí, Kinyaa’áanii bashishchiin. Bit’ahnii dashicheii. Honagháanii dashinálí. T’iisnazbaas dęę naashá. Akot’éego asdzaani nishłí.
My name is Rachel Yazzie. I am Where the Water Flows Together clan, born for the Towering House clan. My maternal grandfather is Folded Arms clan, my paternal grandfather is He Who Walks Around clan.
I am originally from Teec Nos Pos, Arizona. I am currently a college student at Central New Mexico Community College.
On March 26, I made history as I became the first-ever Native American, and a member of the Navajo Nation, to become the New Mexico regional president of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
Already in this position I was giving an opportunity to meet the U.S. Second Gentleman, Douglas Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris.
I hope students across the Navajo Nation can learn from this by reading from my experience. Perhaps someone may be going through this same experience as I did.
Central New Mexico Community College
Back in high school, Rachel Yazzie went to a college fair and was immediately discouraged.
She walked up to several recruiter tables and was handed a brochure and unenthusiastically told to get in touch if she had questions.
Then she came to the CNM table where everything was different. Friendly staff greeted her and asked if she had questions. They told her about all the ways CNM could offer support, from tutoring to scholarships, and Rachel decided to enroll.
“Before I learned about CNM, college was the last thing on my mind,” she said. “But after meeting recruiters from CNM, I decided to give it a go.”
Rachel spent her first year back in 2018 exploring different majors to see what interested her. She eventually landed on Psychology and Human Services.
She also started working with TRIO Student Support Services, which provides no-cost academic assistance to help low-income, first-generation, and/or students with disabilities who want to earn their associate degree and then transfer to a four-year university. The program offers math and science tutoring, success workshops, and academic coaching.
Rachel has a learning disability, so the tutoring was helpful, as were all the resources. TRIO helped her apply for several scholarships, two of which she won.
Thanks to the financial help, half of her tuition has been covered.
“TRIO taught me a lot about everything from academics to money management,” she said. “And it was great to know that I could always access their help.”
After her first year, Rachel’s grandfather died. This set her back and she wasn’t sure if she would reenroll.
But that’s when CNM’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the two-year college honor society, got in touch and encouraged Rachel to join.
The organization, which recruits students that have declared a major, have completed a certain number of hours, and have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher, provides resources, training, and also does community service projects.
Their encouragement prompted Rachel to come back to CNM and she immediately got involved with the organization.
“PTK helped me realize that I wanted to volunteer more, help in my community, and develop the leadership skills that they help teach,” Rachel said.
Fast forward to this spring when Rachel was elected as the New Mexico regional president of PTK. In the role, she’s now in charge of meeting with PTK chapters around the state and working with them on everything from recruitment to chapter development.
Rachel says the leadership skills she’s learned at PTK have prompted her to think about eventually entering politics. She’d like to sit on a school board, or even run for local office, and use her position to help more people access education.
“I think a political position would help me show a lot of people that education is something they should really consider, even if they hadn’t thought about it before,” she said.
Before she considers politics, however, Rachel plans to transfer to New Mexico Highlands or New Mexico State to study psychology and social work.
Once she graduates, she’d like to work as a school counselor or college advisor.
When she gives advice to people like her who thought college wasn’t an option, Rachel always says there’s no harm in trying.
“Give college a chance,” she says. “I gave CNM a chance and it’s been an incredible experience that’s truly set me up for success.”