Student Highlight December 2019

December 10, 2019

I am Verna Sanchez of the Uncompahgre Band of the Northern Ute Tribe. I am originally from Ft. Duchesne, Utah. My parents moved me to Taos, NM as a child where I attended the Taos day School which is located on the Taos Pueblo. My upbringing was traditional culturally from an early age, including regular church attendance, and singing in the choir. In my teen years I attended a Christian Academy school where I played volleyball and basketball.  These activities taught me the importance of community and teamwork.

I am proud that my cultural heritage is very much a part of who I am and my everyday life. I am fortunate my parents allowed me to express myself spiritually and determine who I wanted to be. I spent many summers traveling back to my hometown to participate in the traditional doings with my family and continue the tradition to this day.

I have been a fancy shawl dancer since I was a toddler and have carried on the love of dancing through adulthood. Since I am unable to go to Utah to participate as often as I would like, I participate in activities that occur in the local tribal communities.

I am currently completing my 1st semester at Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) where I am pursuing a degree in Health Information Technology.  I became interested in the health care industry when I began working early on in my adult life as a care giver with individuals with disabilities and later on with the elderly who needed hospice care.  I worked in the care giving field for 20+ years and also spent numerous years attending to the health needs of my family members.  Caregiving has become second nature to me and I feel that this a life long career field that provides both personal satisfaction for my elf and also provides a much needed service to vulnerable populations.  Once I complete my degree I want to transition my career path to working within the Native American community to help progress the efforts to increase health awareness and health care for those that do not typically receive these services.  As Native Americans our community has dealt with socioeconomic and healthcare issues that other groups do not see as frequently.  By completing my degree, I will be an example to other Native American women in the community that it is possible to fully live up to your potential and get past any hurdles that have arisen in life.

Throughout my education career I have endured numerous hurdles both personal and financial which have made it difficult to attend school full time.  By receiving education financial assistance, I will be able to complete my degree in a reasonable amount of time without having to sacrifice taking classes due to financial funding.  By being awarded the AIS scholarship Iwill be able to fully concentrate on my studies without the added pressure and stress of not knowing how I am going to be able to fully pay for tuition and books.  Thank you for this scholarship.

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