Ms. Indigenous San Juan College
Leading with Heritage, Inspiring Futures
Ms. Indigenous San Juan College promotes cultural awareness and understanding of tribal/indigenous nations while representing the Native American students at San Juan College.
Since 2011, an annual competition has been held at San Juan College for Native American Students to compete for the crown and title of Ms. Indigenous San Juan College. During her reign as Ms. Indigenous San Juan College, she assists with recruiting and retaining Native American students. She serves as a role model, leader, and representative of San Juan College while sharing her Native American culture with a broader audience.
2022-2023 Ms. Indigenous SJC Jaymie Begay
Jaymie Begay is a 2020 graduate of Kirtland Central High School. She is studying Native American Studies. Upon completion of her associate degree, she wants to continue her education so that she can become a Navajo teacher, with special emphasis on Diné language and culture.
Introducing herself in her native language, she says, “Yá’át’ééh Shí eí Jaymie Anna Rose Begay Yinishyé. Naashtʼéshí diné nishtį́ (I am the Zuni Clan). Táchiiʼnii báshíshchíín (I am born for the Red Running into the water). Ashįįhi dashicheii (my maternal grandfather clan is salt people clan). Naakʼaii Dinéʼé dashinálí (My paternal grandfather clan is The Mexican Clan).”
Begay’s platform as Ms. Indigenous San Juan College is to focus on youth, getting them involved with their Native culture. “Our culture and language are fading, so I want to keep our language alive. I also want to place awareness around Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.”
2021-2022 Ms. Indigenous SJC Cassie Frank
Cassie Frank, nineteen years old, is a 2020 graduate of Kirtland Central High School. She is a full-time student at San Juan College studying Business Administration. She hopes to continue her education at Arizona State University earning her master’s degree. Following graduation, she plans to open a business in her hometown Farmington NM.
Cassie is originally from Lukachukai, Arizona and is a member of the Navajo Nation. She is the youngest in her family, she enjoys traveling, photography, cooking, watching k-drama, reading manga, making YouTube videos/Tik-Tok, playing pc games and staying productive. She also loves to learn new things and experience new cultures. One place she would love to visit is Seoul, South Korea to see Gyeongbokgung Palace and try Seollangtang (Korean soup)
As Ms. Indigenous San Juan College 2021-2022 her platform is to encourage her peers, friends, family, and mentors to motivate each other to keep learning and expand their knowledge. She quotes “As someone with a chronic illness born into many cultures, I would like to show people that it's still possible to do what they want either it be going to school or traveling to mars, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, your skin color, gender identity I believe in you and want to motivate you, to try because life is short and you should do things that make you happy.”
Cassie is honored to hold this title, she wants to learn more about her culture and language to be able to teach others. She will do her best to represent herself, her family, and her college with this title. With this opportunity, she will inspire others with her voice and wise words. She states, “The thought of meeting new people and making memories is exciting and will be an adventure.” Her favorite quote "Water can carve its way even through stone. And when trapped water makes a new path”-Arthur Golde
2019-2021 Ms. Indigenous SJC Marie J. Nickoli
Marie J. Nickoli is a 2001 graduate of West Valley High School in Fairbanks, Alaska. She joined the Marine Corps in 2001 and served faithfully for 8 years. Her platform is Visibility, Unity and Empowerment. The visibility aspect is to show that Alaskan Native/Native American people are still here. The unity aspect is to bring different cultures together. And empowerment is to show that Alaskan Native/Native American people can thrive in the college environment. When asked why she ran for the Ms. Indigenous title, Nickoli said, "I want to be a role model for my sons and to show them what a strong indigenous woman is and what I can/will accomplish." Marie is a full-time college student and plans to receive her Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Instrumentation Controls and Electrical Technologies from the School of Energy.
2018-2019 Ms. Indian SJC Charlene Begay
Charlene Begay is a 2015 graduate of Many Farms High School in Many Farms, Arizona. She is a full-time student at San Juan College. Charlene plans to receive her Associate of Science degree in Nursing. After she completes her associate degree, Charlene plans to apply for to the San Juan College Nursing program to pursue her bachelor’s degree in Nursing. Her goal is to become a Pediatric Nurse and return to the Navajo Reservation to work in Tsalie, Arizona, at the Indian Health Service (IHS) near her community of Lukachukai, Arizona.
As the first high school graduate in her maternal family and a first generation San Juan College student, Charlene wants to serve as a role model to the people of her community. She is proud of her educational goals and hopes to make a difference in her community.
When asked what she would like to share with San Juan College students as Ms. Indian San Juan College, Charlene says: “I’d like to encourage all San Juan College students to be proud of who they are and where they come from. Your family and community are behind you. You have the ability to become who you have always dreamed of, someone people can look up to. You’re not only a role model to young people, but to other generations. Keep pushing. It will all be worth it when you’re walking across that stage at graduation. You can do it!”
2017-2018 Ms. Indian SJC Kahlaya Rose McKinney
Kahlaya Rose McKinney is a 2014 graduate of Shiprock High School. She is a full-time student at San Juan College. Kahlaya plans to receive her Associate of Arts degree in Psychology. After she graduates from San Juan College, she plans to transfer to Diné College to pursue her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She then hopes to continue her education in Hawaii to earn her master’s degree and eventually plans to return to the Navajo Reservation to open a therapy practice.
As a second generation San Juan College student, “I have decided that I want to help heal people with my Psychology Degree and do more than earn paycheck,” McKinney says. “My mom graduated from San Juan College in 2009 with a degree in Cosmetology, and now she owns a salon in Kirtland.”
When asked what she would like to accomplish as Ms. Indian San Juan College 2017-2018, Kahlaya says, “I would like to encourage students to embrace their native culture and educate non-natives about all of the beautiful cultures we have here.”
2016-2017 Ms. Indian SJC Chantel Reid
Chantel Reid is of the Start-of-the-Red-Streaked People Clan and born for the Folded-Arm People Clan. Her maternal grandfather’s clan is Water Edge and her paternal grandfather’s clan is One-Walks-Around. Chantel is pursuing her Associate of Arts Degree in liberal arts and aims to graduate with honors. Chantel has participated in a transfer program for Radiology that San Juan College has with Weber State University. She plans to attend Weber State University in the fall of 2017 for her Bachelor’s Degree in Ogden, Utah. Her role as Ms. Indian San Juan College Princess is to be a role model to students and the community. She is an ambassador to the Native American Center and she represents the college to other communities. Her job is to encourage students, help with support services, and assist students with academics and scholarship support.
2015-2016 Ms. Indian SJC Lynala Nakai
Lynala is a 2010 graduate of White Horse High School in Montezuma Creek, Utah. She is a full time student at San Juan College. She plans to receive her associate of arts degree in Early Childhood Education in the spring of 2016. After she graduates from San Juan College, she plans to transfer to New Mexico Highlands University to pursue her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a minor in Family Studies. Following graduation she hopes to return to the Montezuma Creek area and become a pre-kindergarten teacher.
“Even though I am a single mother to my two year old daughter, I have dedicated myself to getting my education to create career opportunities down the road,” explains Lynala. “I understand the importance of education.” I hope to return to the Montezuma Creek area and become a pre-kindergarten teacher.”
Her role as Ms. San Juan College Indian Princess is to act as an ambassador for the College’s Native American Center and students. SJC’s Native American Center provides programs and services that support students in pursuing their higher education goals. It offers a variety of assistance including admission assistance, academic and scholarship advisement, as well as providing information about services available to make the college experience a positive one.
When asked what she would like to accomplish as Ms. San Juan College Indian Princess, Lynala says, “I hope to be a role model to Native American students.” I want to impress upon them the importance of our culture and the educational opportunities San Juan College offers.”
2014-2015 Ms. Indian SJC Kelsi Lu’ Beth Monroe
As the first non-Navajo Ms. Indian San Juan College, I was given the opportunity to represent my beloved San Juan College through travel, meeting new people and acting as a role model. I attended many functions throughout Indian Country enabling me to share my culture and immerse myself in neighboring traditions. With the support of my family, friends and the wonderful staff at San Juan College's Native American Center, I was given the chance to demonstrate my leadership skills as a role model to not only the Native American/American Indian students of San Juan College, but to the younger generation of ladies as they look forward to attending college. I was blessed to meet many dignitaries, including the President of San Juan College and board of directors, the Vice President of Student Activities, and the President of the Navajo Nation. I was lucky enough to join the sisterhood of past San Juan College royalty. One of the greatest accomplishments was having my photo taken to be on the side of the Navajo Transit bus that brought our college students to school daily. In the end, I was proud to have my picture framed and hung on the wall of princesses. Being Ms. Indian San Juan College allowed me to grow in the San Juan College community and make memories to last a lifetime. Tog'oiak' (Thank You in Ute).
2012-2013 Ms. Indian SJC JoDawna Renee Tso
“T’áá hwó ajít’éego Iiná nizhónígó silá dooleeł,” is one of many teachings JoDawna has learned from her parents, grandparents, and other role models in her life. It means you must set yourself a goal, develop self-discipline, and set a plan to achieve your goals. This is how you build yourself a beautifil life. This teaching, combined with a passion for helping others, inspired JoDawna to pursue degrees in Nursing and Psychology at San Juan College.
A 2005 graduate of Monument Valley High School in Kayenta, Arizona, and a 2008 graduate of Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, Montana, JoDawna has already received an Associate of Science degree in Dental Assisting Technology. After she graduates from San Juan College in 2015, she plans on attending Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington to complete her Nursing education. According to Michele Peterson, Director of the Native American Center, “Not only is JoDawna an outstanding student at San Juan College, but she is an excellent example to Native American students on campus and in the community.”
JoDawna is a tribal member of the Great Navajo Nation and adopted into the Blackfeet Nation. She is of the Red House Class, born for the Bitter Water Clan. Her maternal grandfather is of the Red Running into the Water Clan and her paternal grandfather is of the Tobacco Red Running into the Water Clan. JoDawna’s parents are Jonathan and Irene T’so from Kayenta, Arizona. Her maternal grandmother is Mae John of Cove, Arizona and her maternal grandfather is the late Lee John of Cove, Arizona. Her paternal grandparents are Simon and Irene Crank from Black Mesa,Arizona. JoDawna has five sisters: Jonathea Crank and Jonnea T’so are her older sisters; and, Jonette, Koltey, and Kolandi T’so are her younger sisters.
As the San Juan College Princess, JoDawna represents the College at numerous events, such as Student Rush, Job Fairs, and Native American Week. She will hold the title until next September, when she will help select and crown the new Princess. If you would like JoDawna to come speak at your event or you want to learn more about the San Juan College Princess Pageant, contact the Native American Center.
2011-2012 Ms. Indian SJC Corey Sorrell
Anything is possible if you make it possible for yourself.” – Corey Sorrell
If one word could describe 2012 San Juan College Princess Corey Sorrell, it’s “independent.” A freshman in the Nursing program at San Juan College, Corey is working her way through college with the help of the Navajo Nation Scholarship. She plans on pursuing her Bachelor’s in Nursing at New Mexico Highlands with an emphasis in Women’s Health, and dreams of becoming an Army nurse.
Corey’s parents are Carmelita Deswood and the late Howard Deswood. She was born for the Edge Water People clan and born the Water Flow Together clan. Corey’s maternal grandparents’ clan is the Coyote Pass clan and her paternal grandparents’ clan is the Salt People clan. It was Corey’s father who inspired her to go into the healthcare field, and she hopes that her achievements will be an example to her siblings and young Navajo girls.
When you meet Corey, you’ll be impressed by her outgoing and confident personality, a winning combination that certainly helped her win the title of San Juan College Princess. To become Princess, she also had to perform two Talent challenges. For her Modern Talent, Corey used her passion for Nursing and demonstrated how to take blood pressure. For her Traditional Talent, Corey made Navajo blue-corn pancakes.