Cheryl Lomakema - Reaching Beyond!

Cheryl enjoys having a good time with friends.

Cheryl enjoys having a good time with friends.

At age 52, Cheryl from the village of Sichomovi and member of the Kookopwungwa (Fire Clan) graduated in the spring of 2015 from Arizona State University with her Bachelors degree in Social Work. She graduated Magna Cum Laude and made the Dean’s list twice. Cheryl now has plans to enter a Master’s program in Advanced Standing for Social Work this upcoming May. Her parents are the proud Wallace and Claudina Lomakema.


What was an obstacle or challenge you overcame to continue your educational journey?

My biggest obstacle was my addiction to alcohol and the biggest challenge was changing my alcoholic behaviors. After I graduated from Winslow high school in 1981, I didn’t have any idea of what I wanted to do. I liked to have fun and that fun ended up turning into trouble and hard times. I was able to change my alcoholic behaviors through prayer, faith, discipline and my desire to live my life to the fullest. When I was a young girl my grandmothers Lucy Nahee and Emogene Lomakema laid a premise of self-worth, values and beliefs for me. Through their teachings I realized that all people have purpose and matter. I found that helping others was one of my passions and to effectively help others I had to look toward higher learning to accomplish this. In 2012, I was encouraged to take classes at Northern Pioneer College (NPC), there I realized I could do more and applied to ASU. When I was accepted, I made it a goal to finish school, and I did.

How do you see your life changing by completing your educational goals?

Cheryl stands proudly with her parents, Wally and Claudina Lomakema

Cheryl stands proudly with her parents, Wally and Claudina Lomakema

A friend recently told me, “You proved everyone wrong when you received your degree.” That offended me in a small way but my response to her remark was, “I was not out to prove anyone wrong, I was out to prove myself right.” Through hard work, determination and self-discipline I was able to accomplish my educational goals. My motivation has been to rise to a peak only imagined in my dreams, but is now my reality. I plan on entering the Advanced Standing Program for social work this coming May. This means I can accomplish a master’s degree in social work in one year. Life for me is improving and changing and the sky is now the limit. 

How is being a part of Hopi special for you?
 
I am a very proud member of the Hopi Tribe and culture. Although, I was raised and practice Christianity, I respect Hopi traditions. I am proud to be from a culture that values humility, respect, and is based in a collective system around family. The support I have received from not only my immediate family but from my clan and extended family has carried me throughout my life and edcational endeavors. I am thankful. Each day is a learning process for me when it comes to the Hopi way of life. I would love to speak the Hopi language fluently one day. My father is my mentor to the Hopi way of life. 

If you were to meet the donor who helped fund your scholarship, what would you say to that person?

Cheryl with some of her church members.

Cheryl with some of her church members.

Thank you to the Hopi Tribe and all the entities that make funding possible and available to Hopi students. Askwali! Scholarship funding has been very help

Kyle Navenma "Awenma (Message via the Sun)"

Kyle gets ready for an art show.

Kyle gets ready for an art show.

Kyle (age 28) is from the village of Orayvi and member of the Tapwungwa-Pipwungwa (Rabbit/Tobacco Clan). He graduated from Hopi Jr./Sr. High School in 2005. In spring 2015, he completed his Bachelors of Fine Arts degree, with an emphasis in sculpture from Northern Arizona University. Kyle is currently researching graduate schools as he aspires to be a professor, teaching art. His proud parents are Wendell Navenma and the late Ezelda Navenma.

How do you see your life changing by completing your educational goals?

My life has already changed before I received any degree. My time in school has taken my art to a professional level, which is now opening up different opportunities for me. I’ve been put in a position to become a full time artist, but eventually I want to teach at the university level. That would be a huge change for me, as I never seen myself as a teacher. By completing all my educational goals, it would open countless opportunities for me. I’m not sure what that’ll be just yet, but it will definitely be for the better.

Provide an example of an obstacle or challenge you overcame to continue your education journey?

Sculpture titled, "Cloud Day"

Sculpture titled, "Cloud Day"

For the most part, the biggest obstacle I had faced was myself. There would be times where I had lost that drive to finish school. I had taken time off and didn’t think I would ever finish what I had started. Lack of motivation was a struggle I dealt with early on. When my mother passed, I think people expected me to give up what I was doing. In fact, the loss of my mother had given me the motivation to never stop dreaming. I had turned anger into energy I used to stay focused. In my mind, if someone so kind-hearted and loving could be taken away, no one’s life is a given. From that point on, I made it my goal to achieve and learn as much as I could. I am constantly learning and growing, everything I do is for myself, my family, and all who have helped me along the way. I can’t stress this enough, I did not make it this far alone.

How is being a part of Hopi special for you?
 
“I stay connected to all that goes on at home on Hopi. I’ve been lucky to not have missed any ceremonies while attending school. Whether at Santa Fe or Flagstaff, I knew I was close enough that I had no excuse to miss a ceremony. Hopi is where I learned discipline, respect, and where I received my strength, mentally and physically. I am a product of Hopi, I’ve learned about life from summers in the fields and participating in ceremonies. Though I may have been born into the Hopi lineage, I have yet to earn the name Hopi. For Hopi is more than just a tribe on an enrollment card, it is a way of life. I may not be a “traditional” Hopi, but I do try and a keep a good heart, inner being, and I think that’s a good start. My art reflects the struggle to maintain balance between two ways of living. 

If you were to meet the donor who helped fund your scholarship, what would you say to that person?

Kyle creating his next sculpture.

Kyle creating his next sculpture.

“I would like to say thank you. They have given me and many others the opportunity to better our lives. They have given hope and options which may have not been available before. No words really can express how much I appreciate all they have done. I hope my actions will prove that their help didn’t go to waste. 

Trevor Reed - Lessons from a Law Student

Trevor enjoys the outdoors.

Trevor enjoys the outdoors.

Trevor whose Hopi name is Pahuwytewa means “beginning, new year” from the village of Hotevilla represents the Iswungwa (Coyote Clan) and is currently pursuing a JD in Intellectual Property Law from Columbia University. He is also a proud father of five kids: Madelynn (7), Camilla (6), Cameron (4), Sadie (3), and Gwendolyn (1). Trevor enjoys spending time with his wife and kids, while balancing the pursuit of a law degree. 

What have you had to overcome on your educational journey?
“One of the biggest obstacles I’ve struggled with along my educational path has been learning how to be self-confident. Growing up, I was always the shy guy--thinking I didn’t know as much as other kids in class. I was always embarrassed to share my ideas with other people. I decided to try music, letting instruments do the talking for me. That helped a lot, giving me the chance to express thoughts, ideas and emotions in a way that could reach others. But, one of the most important changes in my life actually came when I took up writing for my high school and college newspapers. I learned how to do research and to write to persuade. I also started taking time to do volunteer work, and ended up being selected to go to another country, teaching people every day.”  
   
What tools have helped you most, while in college?
“The most useful resources I found were my academic advisor, the library, and my dictionary. My academic advisor had connections to people and resources I never knew existed. The library has knowledge on every subject you could ever imagine, and learning how to use it means you can figure anything out. Most libraries also have a writing center to help you turn ideas into A+ papers. Finally, because I didn’t read a whole lot growing up, I had to carry around a dictionary with me to understand what I was reading and hearing from the professors in my classes. I learned never to take words for granted—they’re a lot more powerful when you really know what they mean.”

Trevor and a student he mentors.

Trevor and a student he mentors.

What advice would you share with other Native students?
“College is really what you make of it. It’s a lot of experiences wrapped into one. It is your first chance to live on your own in the world.  It’s also one of the first chances you have to feel very small and very different.  It’s the first time many of us will learn how to study, how to use a library or do real, non-wikipedia research. It can also be the first time your voice makes a difference in someone else’s life. There’s no easy way to feel comfortable in college, except to love learning and to talk to your neighbors in and outside of class.  One way to love learning is to take a little bit of time each day to review what you took away from class and write it down in a sentence, picture, chart, etc. Another trick is to let yourself be a whole—some people join clubs, others get jobs, others volunteer, others go to the gym or run marathons. Making your life more than just classes and exams will make you feel like a complete person. Be adventurous, and stretch yourself.” 

BriAnn Laban “Tulustung-Tewa (Spider receiving its red spots)”

Briann enjoying a Hopi Summer.

Briann enjoying a Hopi Summer.

BriAnn (age 25) is from the village of Tewa and member of the Tuwawungwa (Sand Clan). She graduated from Hopi Jr./Sr. High School in 2008 and completed her Bachelors of Science in 2012 from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. BriAnn is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Architecture at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she plans to graduate in 2017. Her proud parents are Neomi Nahee and Brian Laban.

Which people in your life encouraged education?

“It all started with my entire family. They would always say do well in school. So I did, such an obedient child I was...  followed by all my teachers I ever had...  always encouraging and challenging me. I appreciate every single one of them. However, out of all of them there are two individuals who encouraged me more with their simple words of wisdom. My fourth and fifth grade teacher Mrs. D encouraged me to “never stop asking questions.” So I never stopped.”

“The next individual Is my sister Hollie. Being her younger sister it was natural for me to want to do everything she did. She was in Upward Bound and I wanted to do the same but she told me not to. She encouraged me to do a 3-year math and science summer program called (MS)2 Program in Andover Massachusetts. That push she gave me changed my life forever, I’m a nerd for life now.”

Provide an example of an obstacle or challenge you overcame to continue your education journey?

Briann's architecture model.

Briann's architecture model.

“There were and still are many times when I just want to give up because I miss home so much. I miss my family, friends, the food, the openness, the dances and everything else I’ve come to appreciate about Hopi. I am sacrificing all of that to further my education and sometimes I wonder, “Is it worth it?” I know I have acquired enough skills to obtain a good job back home, however, I don’t want to do just any thing. I want to help progress not only my tribe but many others as well with my knowledge in Architecture and Community Planning. That’s what keeps me going. How will I contribute to develop my tribe if I give up now?”

How is being a part of Hopi/Tewa special for you?
 
“Being Hopi/Tewa gives me a unique perspective on life. I use that perspective in the classroom and always try to tie in my culture with my work. I align myself to Hopi ideals of living simple, caring for the land, working hard and holding water as sacred. On the island, we are surrounded by water which is a complete opposite to where I grew up.”

What advice would you share with other Hopi students about college?

Briann and her little brother Keddo.

Briann and her little brother Keddo.

“My advice would be to try new things. Your mind may be set on a major, but branch out during your first and second year. Don’t think of it as wasting time because even a bad experience is just as insightful as a good one. Test the waters and who knows you might find much more happiness in a different major. When we pursue higher education we have the goal of improving our life and lives around us. This is great, but remember your happiness should be a goal too. So relax, drink some hot cocoa, play a board game, fix a puzzle, exercise, sing Disney songs, do whatever makes you happy. Just don’t let these simple joys turn into procrastination tools.”

Thank you for supporting not only me but many other Hopi scholars! Kuuna’a (Thank You, Tewa Language)

Amber J. Poleviyuma - Arizona State University

Amber sharing health information with students.

Amber sharing health information with students.

Amber HomÖynom (bamboo arrow laid out to dry) from the village of lower Munqapi  represents the Iswungwa (Coyote Clan) and is currently pursuing a BS in Community Health/Nursing at Arizona State University. She grew up around her kwa’a (grandfather) who was the most traditional person she knew yet encouraged education because he saw it as a means to protect Hopi culture. Amber shared, “I saw my mother work hard for her education so that my siblings and I could be cared for and still be involved in Hopi life.”

What have you learned from your educational journey?
“I would like to say that there is no right way to get your education. Every person is different, so play to your strengths and do what is right for you. You know you the best and that is how you will succeed. For me, I started out at Coconino Community College and then transferred to Arizona State University. This was the best choice for me because I wasn’t overloaded with course work or financial hardship. After receiving my AA degree, I transferred, realizing that I wanted to challenge myself more and be more independent. By participating in new opportunities, I have been able to be a better student and gain experience as a leader and future healthcare provider. Keep your head up! Nahongvita! (exert oneself, make your utmost effort)”
What tools have helped you most?
“One of the most helpful tools has been prayer. Prayer can be done anywhere and has gotten me through the most stressful times in my life.”

Amber participating in her hopi culture. hopi social dance.

Amber participating in her hopi culture. hopi social dance.

How is being a part of Hopi special for you?
“My culture and traditions mean everything to me. This is because I have seen many people search their whole lives for a purpose and meaning, but for me being Hopi provides a foundation and guidance. The values of sumi’nangwa (coming together to do activities that benefit all) and kyaptsi (respect) have provided my family and I guidance through tough times. The best and happiest times of my life were also because of Hopi culture and traditions: practicing for social dances, dancing, seeing the katsinas (spirit being), preparing for weddings and baby namings. I am very thankful to our ancestor for all of their sacrifices to keep our culture and traditions intact, because not many people have these anymore.”