Myrna Mitchell of Many Farms, Ariz. was recognized as Navajo Technical University’s 2014-2015 Student of the Year after completing her first full year in NTU’s Bachelor of Arts degree in Diné Culture, Language & Leadership. Mitchell was recognized as Student of the Year in a banquet hosted by the American Indian College Fund in March in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
CROWNPOINT, NEW MEXICO – Myrna Mitchell of Many Farms, Arizona was recognized as Navajo Technical University’s 2014-2015 Student of the Year after completing her first full year in NTU’s Bachelor of Arts degree in Diné Culture, Language & Leadership.
“I’m really excited and happy,” exclaimed Mitchell, who was recognized in a special banquet by the American Indian College Fund in March. “I didn’t expect to be Student of the Year. I was at lunch when I found out and I literally jumped up in the cafeteria.”
As unexpected as it was for Mitchell in being named Student of the Year, so has been her educational journey. Mitchell first began college at Mesa Community College in 2006, but after a year, dropped out due to the tragic loss of both her mother and grandmother.
“Due to the sense of vulnerability and complete loss, my grades began to fall,” explained Mitchell, who is Ta’neeszahnii born for Naaneesht’ezhi Tachii’nii. “It was the lowest point in my life, personally and academically.”
After she dropped out, Mitchell returned home and spent the next two years reflecting on the teachings of both her mother and grandmother. “I came to the realization that I overlooked what they taught me,” said Mitchell. “They had given me life to love and appreciate and I had abandoned everything that was implanted.”
With her mother and grandmother in mind, Mitchell turned her focus back to education and enrolled in NTU’s Early Childhood Multicultural Education program at NTU’s Chinle Instructional Site. Mitchell dove back into her studies and in 2012 graduated with an Associate of Science degree. Mitchell made the Dean’s or President’s list every semester in doing so and was heavily active on campus – serving as a tutor and tackling leadership positions with the Diné Ba’aleel Club, the Volleyball Club, and the Social Club.
From the success that she experienced at NTU’s Chinle site, Mitchell decided to continue her education in Crownpoint and enrolled in NTU’s recently accredited Diné Culture, Language & Leadership program where she felt that the traditional aspects of the program would enhance her contributions as an educator.
“My role as a teacher is important to me because I want to give back to my community and incorporate culture into my classroom,” said Mitchell, who currently maintains a 3.8 cumulative GPA. “It is of great importance to share and pass knowledge for the next generation to come.”
While Mitchell is a declared Diné Culture, Language and Leadership major, she is also taking courses towards NTU’s Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Multicultural Education. After completing the B.A. degree in Diné Culture, Language & Leadership she hopes to turn her focus to the B.Sc. degree – which was accredited by the Higher Learning Commission in January of 2014.
The American Indian College Fund and the Adolf Coors Foundation sponsor the Student of the Year program, and they empower each eligible tribal college participating in the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) to select their own student. In being named Student of the Year, Mitchell was awarded a $1,000 check that may be used to pay tuition, fees, room and board, books or any other educational need.