Hopi High alumni receives masters in pursuit of law degree
POLACCA, Ariz. — Lacey Tewanema, a graduate of Hopi High School, earned a Master of Legal Studies in Indigenous Peoples Law from the University of Oklahoma May 17 at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
Tewanema said this degree is a major step forward in her goal of earning a law degree.
“For now, it opens the door into the judicial system as an advocate for indigenous people,” she said.
Tewanema said this degree is important because it gives a sense that more can be done throughout Indian country with the help of legal advocates.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Tewanema attended classes online with Zoom meetings when necessary. She paid for her master's through scholarships and loans.
Tewanema said classes were not as difficult as she thought they would be.
“There were occasions when I did struggle, but the classes were more about critical thinking and applicable type classes. Meaning questions would be how would I apply what I have learned to my community or help indigenous communities,” she said.
She said her family and alumni at the college were extremely helpful in supporting her education goals.
“They made sure I kept on top of things, my sister was helpful when it came to Wi-Fi services, and alumni of the program were helpful in verifying when I was doubtful in finishing,” she said.
Tewanema said she had plans to celebrate graduation with a family dinner. Her advice to incoming college students is to read textbooks and take their time for studying.
“Procrastination only leads to anxiety and stress,” she said.
Tewanema already has a bachelor of arts in journalism in Native American and Indigenous Studies that are applicable on news writing and Indigenous coverage. Her masters means she can become an advocate nationally or internationally.
Her parents are Marilyn and Edward Tewanema and her sister is Jaymie Tewanema.
Tewanema said her communication classes at Hopi High School helped her to understand the some of the course work and to think critically.
“Understanding the situations of stories and how to actually speak in situations and show empathy and sympathy,” she said.