Navajo Technical University students with US Senator Tom Udall
ALBUQUERQUE – Students of Navajo Technical University’s Early Childhood Multicultural Education program participated in a two-day symposium on “Examining Early Child Development and Health: The Intersections of Science, Policy, and Practice,” April 23-24th at the Uptown Sheraton in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The two-day symposium was hosted by the University of New Mexico’s RWJF Center for Heath Policy and engaged students in presentation and discussion around the latest thinking and research related to early childhood policies. Panelist and presenters included Deborah Philips, Ph. D., Georgetown University; Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Ph.D., New York University; New Mexico Senator Tom Udall; and Dan Haggard, deputy director of CYFD Early Childhood Services.
This was the first time NTU’s early childhood education program participated in a national early childhood event, which they did so to expand student perspective. “It’s going beyond the classroom and connecting what we’ve been learning with the outside world,” explained NTU early childhood education instructor Dr. Rhiannon Gishey on NTU’s participation. “What drives the students is really their love for children and you see it everyday in the classroom.”
Ten students from NTU attended the event that included panel discussions around topics such as: the critical nature of early childhood; connecting research to policy; understanding intervention in early childhood; and ensuring policies and programs address diversity of equity. The diverse nature of the symposium appealed to NTU students, who appreciated the broad scope of topics.
“The conference shared information from a lot of different universities, teachers and policy makers,” stated student Lucietta Begay from White Rock, New Mexico. “With the information we learned, we’ll get to teach and share it with our community.”
Student Suzanna Clark-Nakai of Chinle, Arizona shared the importance in participating in such a collaborative event. “It enhances and broadens perspective meeting professionals willing to help us as pioneers in the educational field. It was very interesting, but there weren’t enough days with all of the information to process.”
Also attending the event included student Angel Darwin, who is completing her second to last semester at NTU. Darwin is expected be one of the first to graduate in the Bachelor of Science degree program next December and she stressed the importance of attending conferences in order to advocate for Native American students.
“That’s why we’re here as NTU students going into education,” explained Darwin, who lives in Crownpoint but hails from Black Mesa, Arizona. “We are our children’s voices.”