NWIC students honored at AIHEC

Second-year student Aissa Yazzie named Miss AIHEC 2012

Aissa Yazzie (Navajo) was named Miss AIHEC 2012 during the American Indian Higher Education Consortium conference in March. Yazzie is a second year student at Northwest Indian College in the Bachelor of Science in Native Environmental Science program.
The Northwest Indian College (NWIC) men’s basketball players made headlines when they won the 2012 American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) basketball championship title, but they weren’t the only students to win titles at the annual student conference this year, held in March in Rapid City, South Dakota.

NWIC students won awards in art and speech, and Aissa Yazzie, NWIC Student Executive Board president, was named Miss AIHEC 2012.

There were 12 finalists for Miss and Mr. AIHEC. They were judged on their academic performances, their knowledge of AIHEC, their commitment to carry forward their cultures and traditions, and their commitment to their communities demonstrated through participation and service contributions, said NWIC Director of Assessment and First Year Experience, Cindy Cultee, who was also an advisor to the AIHEC Student Congress for 10 years.

“Aissa impressed the judges with her commitment to saving the salmon and her service to the NWIC community.

NWIC student Julia Orloff won first place in art in the category of leatherwork at the 2012 American Indian Higher Education Consortium conference held in March in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Students honored at AIHEC include:

• Aissa Yazzie (Navajo): Miss AIHEC
• Julia Orloff (Aleut): first place in art, leatherwork category
• James Shoshone (Washo/Shoshone-Paiute): second place in art, drawing; second place in art, mixed media
• Dyami Thomas (Klamath) and Eric Lewis (Dine): second place in speech, interpretive duo
• Sara London (Aleut): first place in speech, persuasive

In addition to the award winners, Forrest Callaghan was also honored when he was named as the Pacific Mountain Region Representative of AIHEC Student Congress.

“A really committed group of students attended the conference this year and their preparation showed,” said Wayne Woods, NWIC student executive board advisor and instructor. “Our speakers and our artists showed the depth of our student body. I think that the balance of winning in sports and the academic competition was pretty positive.”

The following is a Q&A with Aissa Yazzie (Navajo) about what it means to her to be named Miss AIHEC. She is a second-year NWIC student in the Bachelor of Science in Native Environmental Science program.

Question: What does it mean to you to be named Miss AIHEC 2012?

I am grateful. It is truly an honor to be representing AIHEC. Miss AIHEC to me is an opportunity to better myself and my community. It is a great way to advocate for our education here at Northwest Indian College.

Question: What kind of responsibilities come with the title?
I am to represent AIHEC, the 37 tribal colleges across the United States and Canada. Miss AIHEC advocates for the education of Native Americans and for tribal colleges. 

Questions: Were you surprised when your name was announced at the awards banquet?
I was so nervous during the banquet, of course Miss AIHEC was announced very last and it didn't help that I was sitting a table away from the crown, so during the banquet it was like the crown was staring at me. As they were describing Miss AIHEC, everything they were saying was so familiar, but I was still so surprised when they actually said my name!

Questions: What was the interview process like?
I first had to fill out an application that included a personal statement, transcript, and several letters of support. At the AIHEC conference, I had an interview with a panel, and afterwards I just had to wait.

Questions: What was the hardest part of the process for you?
The hardest part of the process was the wait and controlling my anxiety. I was so nervous before the interview and it was hard because after the interview I was still so nervous. 

Question: What was the most enjoyable part of the process?
Being awarded Miss AIHEC was one of my favorite parts of the AIHEC conference. I was extremely happy and excited to represent and be Miss AIHEC 2012.