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NTU Confers First Degrees in Environmental Science and Natural Resources Program

Among the more than 100 degrees conferred by NTU on December 12 were the first two in BS degrees in Environmental Science and Natural Resources.

More than 100 degrees and certificates were conferred at Navajo Technical University’s fall commencement on December 12, 2014 and among them were NTU’s first two degrees in its Bachelor of Science program in Environmental Science and Natural Resources.

NTU’s Environmental Science and Natural Resources four-year degree program was granted accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission in 2012 and was developed for the purpose of increasing the number of Native Americans in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields. Two years later, Crownpoint, New Mexico residents Malanie Begay and Kristofferson Martin were the first to earn the degree after previously completing NTU’s Associate of Applied Science degree in Environmental Science.

“With the shortage of Native Americans in the STEM fields, graduating students with an Environmental Science and Natural Resources degree will not only have an impact locally but nation and state-wide as well,” said NTU Dean of Instructional Services Dr. Casmir Agbaraji. “It is a tremendous accomplishment by both students and we look forward to producing more graduates in the future.”

Ophelia Descheny-Burnside

Crownpoint residents Malanie Begay and Kristofferson Martin take a photo after receiving their Bachelor of Science degrees in Environmental Science and Natural Resources. Begay and Martin were the first students to earn the degree since the Higher Learning Commission approved the program in 2012.

Agbaraji noted that those with a baccalaureate degree have an advantage in the job market as those with a baccalaureate degree or higher have an unemployment rate near 3.7 percent as compared to 7 percent for those who hold an associate degree. “There are more job opportunities in STEM fields, and having a baccalaureate degree is an advantage,” Agbaraji explained.

In addition to the four-year Environmental Science and Natural Resources degree, NTU also conferred two Bachelor of Applied Science degrees in IT – Computer Science to Justin Bennally of St. Michaels, Arizona and Thale Goodluck of Crownpoint. With the four degrees, NTU has now conferred 12 baccalaureate degrees since 2013—all of which have been in STEM fields.

The fall commencement was the first graduation to take place in NTU’s new Comprehensive Wellness Center—five months after the university opened the building’s doors for the 2014 Navajo Nation Presidential Forum. Senator Benny Shendo Jr. (NM-22) and Navajo Nation Poet Laureate Luci Tapahonso served as the commencement speakers for the graduation and American Indian Higher Education Consortium Student Congress President Dwight Carlston gave the student address.

Ophelia Descheny-Burnside

New Mexico Senator Benny Shendo Jr. addresses Navajo Technical University’s graduating class on December 12 at NTU’s Comprehensive Wellness Center. Senator Shendo served as the commencement speaker along with Navajo Nation Poet Laureate Luci Tapahonso

Twenty-one associate degrees and 78 certificates were also issued during the commencement, which were distributed by Tapahonso, Senator Shendo, Dr. Guy and the NTU Board of Regents. In total 103 degrees and certificates were conferred.

Navajo Technical University became a university in 2013 after developing nine accredited baccalaureate degrees and the Navajo Nation’s first master’s degree program in Diné Culture, Language & Leadership. This past fall the university had a record high enrollment of 2,250 students across its three locations in Crownpoint and Teec Nos Pos and Chinle, Arizona.

For more information about Navajo Technical University visit NavajoTech.edu.