86 Navajo students awarded Chief Manuelito Scholarships
LEUPP, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation established the Chief Manuelito Scholarship program in 1980 to recognize high achieving high school graduates.
On Aug. 5, 86 students were honored and recognized as 2022-2023 recipients of the award at Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort in Leupp.
The scholarship honors Chief Manuelito, Hastiin Ch’ilhaajiin, (1818-1893) who encouraged the Navajo people to seek education and protect and preserve Navajo tradition and culture.
Students meeting the criteria for the Chief Manuelito Scholarship are awarded $7,000 per academic year to cover direct educational expenses associated with attending a post-secondary institution. Chief Manuelito Scholarship recipients are required to maintain a 3.0 GPA and earn 12 or more semester credit hours, based on college-level graded courses, for each academic term.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, First Lady Phefelia Nez, Vice President Myron Lizer, and Second Lady Dottie Lizer joined parents, grandparents, and educators at the event.
In his congratulatory message, President Nez encouraged the students to return home to the Nation after earning their degrees to help their people.
“I understand the challenges of returning home, securing a job, and building a life. It’s not easy, but we have many of our people who are doing it each and every day. The Chief Manuelito Scholarship empowers our young people to earn their formal education, but we also have to uphold and honor the teachings of our elders to succeed. The key to moving forward is to never give up. Our ancestors never gave up and that’s why we are still here today,” Nez said.
Nez also highlighted the teachings of elders and the importance of prayer as the students move forward with their higher education and career goals.
Vice President Lizer also offered appreciation and thanks to the parents, grandparents, teachers, and others who supported the scholarship recipients and helped them to achieve academic success, prior to offering the closing prayer to conclude the ceremony.
Northern Arizona University Professor Dr. Manley Begay, Jr. served as the keynote speaker. Executive Staff Assistant with the Office of the President and Vice President Darrick Franklin served as the master of ceremony, and Navajo Nation Board of Education President Dr. Henry Fowler provided the opening prayer.