NTU Confers First Bachelor of Science Degrees at Fall Commencement

Jan 5th, 2015 | By | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive
By Daniel Vandever

New Mexico state senator Benny Shendo Jr. addressed NTU’s graduating class at the university’s new Comprehensive Wellness Center. Photo by Ophelia Descheny-Burnside.

During its fall commencement, Navajo Technical University (NTU) conferred its first Bachelor of Science degrees in the field of environmental science and natural resources. NTU developed the four-year program to increase the number of Native Americans in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. The Higher Learning Commission accredited the program in 2012. Crownpoint 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,” stated NTU’s 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.”

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

In addition to the four-year environmental science and natural resources degree, NTU also conferred two Bachelor of Applied Science degrees in information technology and computer science. With the four degrees, NTU has now conferred twelve 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, which was opened five months ago. New Mexico state senator Benny Shendo Jr. and Navajo Nation Poet Laureate Luci Tapahonso served as the commencement speakers for the graduation, while American Indian Higher Education Consortium Student Congress president Dwight Carlston gave the student address. Twenty-one associate degrees and 78 certificates were also issued during the commencement, which were distributed by Tapahonso, Senator Shendo, NTU president Elmer Guy and the university’s board of regents.

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