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?
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?
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