My family had a medicine man do a protection ceremony for me. Then I started my freshman year at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas. I cried pretty hard when my parents dropped me off at my dormitory and left. I knew I was the only one along with one friend from Crownpoint.Coming from the reservation where 99 percent of my peers are Navajo made Las Vegas very strange and cold. It wasn’t my home and it wasn’t comfortable. Everyone was so different, like the TV came to life and swallowed me.The Native American Club saved us. There, we could visit other Natives, build relationships with each other and find so much comedy in all the little things we did together. We even went to the San Felipe Casino for a Navajo comedy show by James and Ernie and the Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque together.I later found journalism through the American Indian Journalism Institute – and it was a life changer. I transferred to NMSU for the journalism major and my sister’s network of Native friends and peers became mine. The American Indian Program will never be as friendly and laid back as the Native American Club in Las Vegas though – there was such an awesome family feel in Las Vegas that NMSU can’t grasp behind all the bureaucracy.I started to see New Mexico as my home, not just the reservation anymore. I’ve been to so many places and talked to so many people as a journalist and it has changed my mind about the world.I also had a very strong personal drive to finish college and be the first in my family to graduate from college. I’ve always wanted to make my parents proud and be a good representative for my tribe whenever I found myself being the “only Native,” which is often. I don’t know what my parents did right – I asked them and they don’t know what they did right either, but they did a good job.Now I am the first Native writer on the Sun-News staff in 25 years, according to Judy, the HR person. And here is my blog (I will try to post a new blog every week if not more).
Then there are so many reasons why Natives don’t finish school and get their diplomas and that is what we talked about during our first meeting of this project. Through four years as a college student I have seen my Native peers drop out because they became pregnant, too involved in the party scene, their school work became too much, they missed home or ran out of money.