Navajo Technical University Has a Lot to Celebrate at its 2018 Spring Commencement

Graduates Jerry Kein, left, and David P. Nez, right, turn their tassels after receiving their Master of Arts degree in Diné Culture, Language, & Leadership.

Published May 15, 2018

CROWNPOINT, NEW MEXICO – Navajo Technical University welcomed an at capacity crowd to its Wellness Center as over 2,000 friends and family members witnessed the commencement of over 200 graduates earning a GED diploma, certificate, or degree. Among the graduating class included 32 students earning a baccalaureate degree and two earning a Master of Arts degree in Diné Culture, Language, & Leadership when David P. Nez of Tohatchi, NM and Jerry Kein of Thoreau, NM were honored.

The 32 students earning a baccalaureate degree were the most in NTU history. Nineteen of the 32 degrees were a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Multicultural Education or Environmental Science and Natural Resources, while another 9 Bachelor of Applied Science degrees were earned across IT-Computer Science, IT-New Media, and IT-Digital Manufacturing. Three students earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Diné Culture, Language, & Leadership, while Creative Writing and New Media major Destinee Yazzie of Kayenta, AZ received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Yazzie was recognized as the first student to graduate summa cum laude from one of NTU’s ten baccalaureate programs with a 4.0 G.P.A.

Serving as commencement speaker was Arizona House of Representative Eric Descheenie. Descheenie recently helped secure additional funding for NTU through the Arizona Transaction Privilege Tax, which will help construct a Center for the Environment at NTU’s new Chinle instructional site. Navajo Nation Chief Justice Joanna Jayme, Miss NTU Kuwanyauma Bahe, NTU Student of the Year Ashley Joe, and NTU’s Board of Regent members joined Descheenie on stage and congratulated graduates throughout the program.

NTU Student Senate President Roland Begaye, Jr. was also on stage and paid a special tribute to Rose Graham of the Office of the Navajo Nation Scholarship and Financial Assistance (ONNSFA). Graham was recognized after helping secure funding for students who seek a degree in one of NTU’s advanced degree programs. Students approved of the NTU-ONNSFA scholarship are eligible to receive $2,500 per semester for one of NTU’s baccalaureate degree programs or $5,000 per semester to pursue a graduate degree. The funding would be available each semester until a student earns their degree from NTU.

Creative Writing and New Media major Destinee Yazzie of Kayenta, AZ shakes hands with NTU Dean of Graduate Studies Dr. Wesley K. Thomas as she receives a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

The commencement also provided a tribute to NTU’s Faculty Member of the Year, Mr. Franklin Elliott.  NTU’s Dean of Instruction Dr. Casmir Agbaraji introduced Elliott, who was voted by students for the third year in a row after a lengthy nomination process across NTU’s three locations. Elliott instructs in NTU’s B.S. program in Early Childhood Multicultural Education and served as the master of ceremonies during graduation.

In total, 229 diplomas, certificates, and degrees were issued at the spring commencement. Nineteen students received their GED, 95 received a certificate, 81 received an associate degree, 32 earned a baccalaureate degree, and 2 earned a graduate degree. The first cohort of the Navajo Nation police academy was also recognized during the ceremony.  For more information about NTU’s spring commencement contact NTU’s Dean of Student Services Jerlynn Henry at

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