For the third time in Indian Country, Navajo Nation Pride is honored to announce Devon Norberto and Earlson Mason as the recipients of the prestigious Nááts'íílid Rainbow LGBTQ2S+ Scholarship. Both are student leaders from Kayenta, Arizona, and Shiprock, New Mexico.
Devon is the former president of Chieftain Pride - the first LGBTQ+ student club at Shiprock High School - and credits the creation of the organization to his brave teacher, Mrs. Andrea Evans, and student founder Adam Pettigrew. His parents are Kristy Dempsey & the late Jonathan Norberto, and his grandparents are Etta Jean & Frank Dempsey. Devon is attending the University of New Mexico as a political science major.
As an Indigenous youth and a member of the LGBTQ community, I have grown into a very resilient individual who has faced many hardships throughout my life. I endured bullying for being gay, as well as struggling with thoughts of me accepting myself. All these have made me into the resilient individual I am today. Without these challenges, I would not be the person I am who wants to fight for change for our people. I am honored to be a Diné Pride Scholar and to represent this amazing organization.
- Devon Norberto, UNM Student Leader
Earlson was elected Student Body President for the Associated Students of Diné College (ASDC) this last spring 2021 semester and plans to complete his Bachelors of Arts in Psychology. He previously served as a student senator and vice president while also earning an internship with Capacity Builders, Inc. Earlson plans to attend Grand Canyon University to receive his Master's in Health Psychology in 2022 and his proud parents are Rosita and Carl Manson.
Resilience as I learned the term throughout my college career is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, and tragedy. I find that to be a great leader you must face different adversities to understand how important resilience is to one’s life and the people around them. As the first openly gay Student Body President of Diné College and a Board of Regent, I want to make a difference for my peers. I truly feel honored to be a Diné Pride Scholar and look forward to good things to come.
Earlson Manson, Diné College Student Body President
In a press release, Diné Pride Academic Director, Nicole Johnny said,
We send appreciation to all our community donors and Indigenous small businesses for supporting this scholarship program over the last three years. So many LGBTQIA+ young people have benefited from our support and they are the leaders we invested in. From attending college to using the funding for fellowship programs - our Pride Scholars are determined to give back to the communities we serve. Diné Pride is impacting so many lives around the country.
The Nááts'íílid Rainbow Youth Scholarship is a one-time $1,000 dollar scholarship to be awarded to two (2) Indigenous students from the Navajo Nation who self-identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, gender non-binary, and/or two-spirit. Scholars have made a significant contribution to the LGBTQ2S+ community and are addressing concerns facing their peers today.
Misty Sandoval is completing her freshman year at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. She added,
I am proud to be a Nááts'íílid Scholar and appreciate everyone who supports Diné Pride to make this scholarship possible. The first year of college for any young person can be intimidating as you navigate campus, purchase books, and settle into proper housing. This funding has allowed me to attend classes and do better as a student. One day in the future I plan to return home to help my people and Pride supported me through this journey.
Serving in his third year as Diné Pride Executive Director, Alray Nelson said,
The Nááts'íílid Rainbow Scholarship was created to empower and uplift the next generation of Indigenous LGBTQ2S youth leaders. For far too long, Western enculturation has distorted identity and the existence of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and two-spirit youth amongst the Diné people. We plan to change that narrative by helping our own students excel in their higher education journey. Diné Pride is determined to give back to the communities we serve.
This scholarship is made possible by the community donors for Diné Pride and Diné Equality that has raised thousands of dollars for worthy causes since its inception in 2013. Both organizations have gained national recognition in Indian Country for the tireless work each has done on behalf of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and two-spirit community.