Guest Column | Congratulations, fall graduates!

By Cody Begaye

Greetings, winter graduates of the class of 2021!

The Navajo Nation Department of Diné Education congratulates all of you for making it to this point in your journey of education.

Along the way, you have learned a great deal about life skills and your chosen field. You have worked with many peers and teachers on your studies, and you have overcome countless personal, academic and professional challenges.

First and foremost, we ask you all to take a moment to soak in your accomplishment. Reflect on all the work and effort you put in to reach this point, as well as the people who have helped you get here. If you can, take a moment to thank those people for their love and support.

At DODE, our key values include Integrity, teamwork, creativity, communication, achievement, knowledge and Ké. These are values that we instill in each of our Navajo Nation schools to pass onto our children. We believe these are important traits of a successful, fulfilling life as a Diné person.

As an education department, it is fair to say our favorite moments of the year are when we get to acknowledge and celebrate our students who have finished a significant formative chapter of their life and graduate from high school or college.

Whether it is outside during May ceremonies or indoors in December, we can always feel the excitement and pride coming from school staff, students and all the guests in attendance.

We are near the end of 2021, which has doubtless been a unique and likely challenging year for every one of you. You had an entire school year be thrown into disarray with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is still felt almost two years later.

You all had to experience learning and keeping up with your studies away from your peers and teachers, so you lost a key part of the school and learning experience.

But throughout the challenges and the uncertainty that each of you faced, your being here shows that you persevered through those times and focused on the opportunities given to you. You demonstrated the tenacity and the strength that our Navajo people have shown throughout history.

We ask you also take a moment to reflect on what our Navajo language, history and culture means to you.

By remembering what you have done to succeed in your schooling and continuing to do those deeds, you continue to demonstrate the key values of DODE. We ask that you hold onto these values as you take the next step in your journey.

With that, there is one more thing we ask you to think on: where you are headed next.

Whether you want to take your learning and studies even further as a graduate or doctorate student, or you now plan to enter the workplace and start a career, or whether you have another idea in place or one is still coming together, take the time to consider where you want to go and then start thinking how you can get there.

The knowledge and strength you have gained from your elementary school to middle school to high school and then college will serve you as you go forward to that destination.

But while this is a big decision that will be a foundation for your later movements, you all should remember all the people around you who are there to help. Friends, family, teachers, mentors, peers, anyone you have come to know through your life who want to help you succeed.

We ask you also remember to help those around you when you can in return as our Diné people should. We are all making this journey together, and we should always strive to leave a positive mark on those around us by being the best person we can be.

Congratulations, Class of 2021! We wish you the best of luck in your next endeavor!

Cody Begaye is a senior public information officer for the Department of Diné Education.


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