My name is Nizhone Rose Talker. I’m currently a freshman at the University of New Mexico. I was born in Blanding, Utah, which is located in southeast Utah and thirty minutes from the Navajo Reservation and I grew up in Salt Lake City. My Navajo clan is Bitter Water Clan and I’m born for the Black Sheep People Clan. My maternal grandfather are Bitter Water Clan and my paternal grandfathers are Red House People Clan. My parents are both Navajo and grew up on the reservation.
I have realized that going to a university will make me the first in my family to obtain a bachelor’s degree. I’m becoming an example to my family, especially my younger sister and cousins. My goals and dream is to become a doctor. I rarely have seen a Native American doctor here in the city or on the reservation. I am learning that the healthcare on the reservation can be better if there were doctors that were Native American, especially those that speak their native language. Therefore, not only do I want to become a doctor but also strive to learn my Navajo language.
I am grateful for my Navajo heritage. I know I don’t live on the reservation but there is a small Native American community here at the University of New Mexico. We have culture events that highlight different tribes in New Mexico such as the Pueblo, Zuni, San Felipe and Navajo Tribes. I try to attend these cultural events but I gain most of my knowledge from my father and grandparents when I go back to visit them on the reservation. I am blessed to know and visit with my great grandmother, Mary Talker. She has been a source of strength and encouragement for me. She has lived all her life on the reservation. She use to herd sheep and cared for all ten of her children. She has no electricity at home and has to use a wood stove for her source of heat. She never went to school and barely speaks any English. However, she realized that an education is important and has always encouraged me to get a college education and return to help our people. It will be many years before I return to the reservation but I would like to return with a medical degree.
I decided to attend the University of New Mexico because my family has taught me that a college education would improve my life and that of my family and community. I know attending the university will help better myself as a person. My mother only has her associate’s degree and my father has a certificate from his job with the transportation department of Utah. They have always encouraged me to to go college but so has my great grandmother, Mary Talker. She is 89 years old and the mother of ten children and only half of them have gone beyond high school. I was able to visit with her over Christmas vacation and she talked to me and told me how education is so important. She said it would make my life easier and I wouldn’t have to struggle like some of her children who don’t have a college education. I realized she spoke the truth and I cherish her words of encouragement. When I go to the reservation to visit my father and extended family, I have had the opportunity to see firsthand how the people live. Some have no running water or electricity and most have no college education. I want to help the youth on the reservation and encourage them to also go to college.