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Education association celebrates graduates

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WASHINGTON - The National Indian Education Association is celebrating a group of members who are graduating from high school, trade school and college from the Native community. It also congratulates its members' families and friends who are graduating, even from preschool.

''This is the time that is so important to focus on the successes of our Native people because it brings all of our families together to celebrate great accomplishments,'' Willard Sakiestewa Gilbert said. He is the current president of the 39-year association, which serves a collection of people from the Native community, including students, professionals and advocates in education.

From providing positive role models and creating a supportive and encouraging environment, NIEA feels people should be recognized for the academic achievements that they have worked so hard to obtain.

Celina Peak will be graduating from Western Washington University with a bachelor's degree in human services. Jeremy Hamilton is receiving a graduate degree from Santa Clara University's Leavey School of Business.

NIEA members John and Tewanna Edwards are celebrating the graduation of their daughter, Polly Ann Jeanette Anderson, from kindergarten at the Early Childhood Learning Center in Shawnee, Okla. Delores Noble is celebrating her niece, Kimberly Lansing, who will be receiving her Associate of Science degree from the College of Eastern Utah in Blanding, Utah.

For years, NIEA members, primarily its educators, can see their efforts realized in their students. These efforts do not go unnoticed. Graduates are from all fields of academic study - even teachers continuing their education. Kelly LaChance is graduating from Colorado State University with a master's degree in education and a certificate in postsecondary teaching.

Dale Bushyhead, a math teacher at Okmulgee High School, Okmulgee, Okla., is graduating this spring from Oklahoma State University with a Master of Science degree in teaching, learning and leadership.

NIEA board members are also recognizing the successes of the graduates. Desi Small Rodriquez will be graduating from Stanford with her master's in sociology. Robin Butterfield's son will be graduating from the University of Oregon, majoring in marketing with a minor in multimedia design.

From a president of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium to the executive director of Aha Punana Leo, the association's members have a tradition of extraordinary success. As the graduation process continues, members of the Native community will continue to be surrounded by educational leaders. NIEA feels the graduates are the true success stories.