News Release – Diné College holds first-ever winter commencement ceremony – virtually

Amanda Begay

Amanda Begay of Lukachukai, Ariz., graduated from Diné College Dec. 11 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Begay aspires to attend graduate school and study either psychology or law.

Diné College Holds First-Ever Winter Commencement Ceremony – Virtually


Dec. 11, 2020

TSAILE, Ariz. — Fearing an outbreak of COVID-19, Diné College conducted its first ever virtual graduation ceremony Dec. 11 that saw more than 50 students receive associate’s and bachelor’s degrees and certificates.

The roughly 90-minute ceremony featured Dr. Jill Jim, executive director of the Navajo Nation Department of Health and a recent appointee to President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board, as commencement speaker. According to the college’s Department of Information Technology, the virtual graduation garnered 5.3 thousand online page views.

Sage Bond, a Diné College alumnus and popular folk musician, sang the National Anthem. James Tutt, dean of Diné College’s School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, emceed the event — recorded by the Navajo Nation Office of TV and Film.

The graduation ceremony included Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 graduates — the latter of whom weren’t able to participate in an actual ceremony in March due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Navajo Nation continues to have a high COVID-19 caseload and a simultaneous in-person graduation was subsequently canceled.

“Congratulations to the graduates,” Dr. Jim said. The ceremony could be viewed via Zoom or Facebook. “You have to take this opportunity to pursue something and come back to the Navajo Nation.”

Diné College Provost Geraldine Garrity, Ed.D., said 56 students petitioned to graduate. A few more received certificates.

Amanda Begay, a bachelor’s degree graduate in psychology who is from Lukachukai, Ariz., said the coronavirus pandemic made things that more challenging. With undergrad now behind her, she said she’s ready for the next educational step.

“My plan is to continue onto graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in counseling or law,” Begay said. “There are so many options to choose from. Eventually I know that I will fall into the right career that I am passionate about.”

Dr. Jim has a doctorate in Public Health, a master’s degree in Health Care Administration, and a second master’s in Public Health from the University of Utah. She has a bachelor’s degree in Health Promotion and Community Health Education from Northern Arizona University. Some of her work experience includes serving as a Health Care Analyst for HealthInsight in Albuquerque, N.M., consultant for Navajo Area Indian Health Service, and Epidemiologist for the Utah Department of Health.

Avery Denny, a medicine man and Diné College professor of language and culture, performed the annual Journey Song.


Jazzmine D. Martinez, Interim Marketing & Communications Officer

Dillon Nopah, Videographer

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