ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren told 300 students and faculty in Albuquerque that there are keys to success that worked for him and can work for them.
It begins with what his late mother told him.
“Son, I believe in you,” he said. “She told me she had very little to give me. But one thing she did give me was encouragement and her belief in me.”
Speaking at the 2023 American Indian Higher Education Consortium Conference here today, the President was joined on stage by Diné College professor and Hataałii Avery Denny, Diné College President Charles “Monty” Roessel, Navajo Technical University President Elmer Guy and founder of the Notah Begay III Foundation, professional golfer Notah Begay.
President Nygren told the story of how he grew up, saying his mom did her best but didn’t have a lot of material things to give to him. He said the encouragement she did give is what inspired him to “get an education to make something of myself.”
“I started to believe in myself, too, “ he said. “I saw that I could make a little goal, like building a doghouse, a shed or an outhouse. When I became older, I learned how to frame a house and use tools and see my goals come to life.”
Next to belief in oneself, creating goals to achieve is the next step, he said.
“Growing up, all of our grandmas told us, T’áá hwó’ ají t’éego. It’s up to you,” he said. “Navajos have always known that everything you have comes through work, effort and perseverance.”
Once you have a goal and begin to try, the next key is not to fear failure. Everything human beings have ever learned throughout human history was made, discovered, invented or accomplished through failing first, he said.
“Be in a hurry to accomplish all you can,” he said. “Resist the urge to not try or to give up. Don’t be afraid of failure.”
Even Notah Begay had to miss a lot of shots before he was playing golf with Tiger Woods, he said.
He told the students that sometime in the future they will remember the Navajo Nation president standing before them to say, “I believe in you.”
“Do that thing that fills you with passion,” he said. “Don’t stop until you get it, build it, create it or become it.”