BLUFF, Utah — Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren and First Lady Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren told the incoming class of freshman class at Utah State University here how they remember the apprehension they felt on their first day of college and how they overcame it.
“Don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to make everything perfect,” the President said. “It’s going to be a tough road. So continue to know there’s always room for improvement.”
First Lady Blackwater-Nygren told the students what it felt like to her to be a first-generation college student from Kayenta, Ariz., and attending Stanford University.
“I remember feeling isolated and feeling alone,” she said.
The President, who received his BS in Construction Management and MBA from Arizona State University, and the First Lady were here to participate in the first-year student and parent orientation Aug. 22. The Navajo leaders’ presentation aimed to promote diversity and inclusion on campus.
Their message was of strength, empowerment and community.
Despite what they may being feeling being away from home for the first time, First Lady Nygren assured the students of their and the Navajo Nation’s support for them.
“My husband and I – the Navajo Nation – we believe in you, we support you,” First Lady Blackwater-Nygren said.
President Nygren said education was important to him because it meant the difference between uncertainty after high school and unlimited opportunity and independence. He told the students that they represented the community of Indigenous students on college campuses.
He said to embrace the opportunity to learn about as many diverse cultures and backgrounds as they could. Make the most of the time at Utah State through the pursuit of knowledge, expansion of their social circles, and by broadening their perspectives,” he said.
The First Lady encouraged the freshmen to find support systems to help them succeed academically and socially. She said not be afraid to ask for help when they need it and to surround themselves with people who believe in them and their potential.
Don’t strive for perfection, the President said, but work to understand that the college journey presents lots challenges.