Navajo Students among Graduates at Fort Lewis College’s Winter 2015 Commencement

 Wilhelmina Manheimer received her bachelor's of arts in anthropology.

Wilhelmina Manheimer received her Bachelor of Arts in anthropology.

Published December 26, 2015

DURANGO, COLORADO — Before the winter commencement ceremony began at Fort Lewis College (FLC), Wilhelmina Manheimer stood with her class in anticipation outside of the Whalen Gymnasium.

Manheimer was one of many Navajo students who would graduate on Saturday, Dec. 19 at FLC’s Winter 2015 Commencement held in Durango, Colorado. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology.

On behalf of the Office of the President and Vice President, Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez attended the commencement ceremony and said he was proud to see so many Navajos among the graduating class.

In emphasizing the importance of higher education, Vice President Nez said a bachelor degree has become a standard requirement to gaining employment.

“Continuing your education provides you tools that reinforce your skill set while broadening the scope of your abilities,” he said. “The Begaye-Nez administration supports continued education as a way to continually move the Navajo Nation forward.”

The college was originally established in 1911 as an agricultural high school.  Currently, it is a public liberal arts college that offers tuition-free education to Native Americans. FLC offers 32 baccalaureate programs and a masters of arts in education program.

Karen Wilde, Board of Trustees for FLC, noted that the college’s alumni include Acoma Pueblo writer Simon Ortiz.

“Never give up,” she said. “You had a vision that brought you to our school. Now follow it.”

This year’s 53rd graduating class totaled 215 students.

Among the Navajo graduates was Amanda McNeil who received a bachelor of arts in psychology. McNeel thanked her parents for their support.

“I’m so happy to be done,” she said.

While crowds of families gathered outside the Whalen Gymnasium for photos, Vice President Nez took the opportunity to congratulate many Navajo graduates.

Both President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez extend their congratulations to the 2015 winter graduating class of Fort Lewis College.

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