Navajo Technical University (NTU) presented over 140 certificates and degrees at its Spring 2019 commencement, including the university’s first honorary degree to longtime New México State Senator, John Pinto. Senator Pinto will be presented with a Doctorate of Public Service for a lifetime of dedication and service to the state of New México, the Navajo nation and its people.
The distinction for Senator Pinto falls on the 40th anniversary of NTU, which began as the Navajo Skills Center in 1979. Since that time, the university transformed into the Crownpoint Institute of Technology, Navajo Technical College, and in 2013, Navajo Technical University. The transition into university status was accompanied by the approval of a Master of Arts degree in Diné Culture, Language, and Leadership, and the ability for NTU to grant honorary degrees.
Senator Pinto was selected to receive the honorary degree based on the recommendation of a committee established at NTU chaired by NTU’s Dean of Research and Discovery, Dr. Tim Begaye. The process required a review of Senator Pinto’s professional resume, which includes the distinction as one of the longest-serving Native American legislators in U.S. history. Senator Pinto’s resume was also evaluated according to his contributions to the Navajo nation in alignment with NTU’s mission and goals, which according to Dr. Begaye, made Senator Pinto an easy selection.
“Senator Pinto is very deserving and very accomplished in his service to not only the Navajo people but to other tribal groups in New México,” said Dr. Tim Begaye of Senator Pinto’s selection as the recipient for the university’s first conferment of an honorary doctorate.
Environmental activists and author, Winona LaDuke served as the commencement speaker on the 40th anniversary of NTU. The internationally renowned activist works on issues of sustainable development of renewable energy and food system for Indigenous communities nationally and globally. She is the founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, one of the largest reservation based non-profit organizations in the country.
Sixteen graduates will be earning a baccalaureate degree at the commencement, including Electrical Engineering major Darrick Lee. Lee earned a Bachelor of Science degree and also addressed the graduating class as NTU’s 2018-2019 Student of the Year. Also addressing the graduating class was Navajo Nation President Johnathan Nez, who gave the congratulatory remarks.
To learn more about Navajo Technical University’s go to navajotech.edu or call 505-786-4100.
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