Back row from left to right: Ron Darnell, PNM Senior Vice President, Public Policy; Honorable Rickie Nez, 24th Navajo Nation Council, Chairman Resources & Development Committee; Elijah Charles; Jimmaria John; LaKisha BlueEyes; Isaac Jones; Byron Tsabetsaye, San Juan College Native American Center Director
Front row from left to right: Gayle Dean, San Juan College Foundation Executive Director; Dr. Perphelia Fowler, Executive Director, Navajo Nation Division of Human Resources; Keisha Salt; Niomi Tsingine; Lynelle Ramone; Dr. Toni Hopper Pendergrass, San Juan College President; Cathy Newby, PNM Director, Tribal Government And Customer Engagement
Twelve San Juan College students who graduated with degrees in Trades and Technology, Energy, Engineering, Geology and Chemistry programs were recognized at a spring reception scholarship dinner hosted by PNM, the College and San Juan College Foundation. All are recipients of scholarships from the PNM-Navajo Nation Workforce Training Initiative.
Scholarship funding ranged from $300 to $2,000 and assisted students who are working toward certificates and associate degrees.
Navajo Nation Councilman Honorable Rickie Nez, San Juan College President Dr. Toni Hopper Pendergrass and PNM Senior Vice President of Public Policy Ron Darnell recognized and honored this year’s graduating scholarship recipients.
In his remarks addressing the students and audience, Darnell said, “The steps you take here, to improve your education and your lives, will impact those around you and your communities as well. Whether you plan to stay here or find your career path elsewhere, your education has given you the tools you need to succeed and help others succeed in a way that will grow and strengthen our economy as well as improve the quality of life where we live and work.”
Established in 2013 to serve the workforce training needs of the Four Corners and Navajo Nation, the PNM-Navajo National Workforce Training Initiative is a partnership between PNM, the Navajo Nation, San Juan College and Navajo Technical University in Crownpoint, New Mexico, that develops and administers the program. PNM contributed an initial $1 million, distributed $200,000 annually over the last five years to Navajo student scholarship recipients. San Juan College received $114,000; Navajo Technical University $77,000; and PNM American Indian Engineering Program $9,000.
PNM is continuing its commitment to the initiative beyond the planned five-year program schedule. During the 2018-19 School year, PNM provided an additional $27,500 worth of scholarship funding to more than 40 San Juan College students.
Since the program’s inception, PNM has provided 349 scholarships to San Juan College students alone. As a result, 126 have received associate degrees and 70 have completed certificates.
“We are thankful that PNM has continued to support San Juan College students through scholarships,” said Dr. Pendergrass. “It’s impressive that they have awarded 349 scholarships thus far.”
Isaac Jones, a scholarship recipient who graduated in May with an associate degree in Auto Body Applied Science, said the scholarship was instrumental in helping him achieve his academic goals. “It helped me out dramatically because it allowed me to become a full-time student and not have to worry about finding a full-time job while being a full-time student,” said Jones.
Scholarship recipient Kera Begay who graduated with an associate degree in Engineering Technology, says the scholarship was extremely instrumental in helping her afford the three-hour commute to school. “Growing up, I always wanted to pursue an engineering degree. My educational pursuits wouldn’t be possible without this generous support, and I thank you for allowing me the opportunity to complete my education at San Juan College,” said Begay.