Jayme Biakeddy, from Fort Defiance on the Navajo Nation, said one of her favorite things about being Miss Indian NAU has been the opportunity to talk with grade-school students.
When she shows up to classrooms in full regalia, their young eyes widen and the students listen closely.
“I tell them I am a first-generation Native American college student and they can go to college, too,” Biakeddy said.
She talks about the importance of being a good reader because that skill will serve them throughout their lives.
Biakeddy also shares the message that universities like NAU have a lot of support services to help students succeed.
When young students ask if being a college student is difficult, she tells them to choose a path that inspires them.
“For me, even with a job and my service commitments, I am energized every day because I love what I study,” she said.
Talking with primary school students is great experience for Biakeddy, who plans a career working closely with children in a health-related setting.
“I want to target the younger generation, and inform them on the topics of a healthy lifestyle and eating right,” said Biakeddy, who has seen diabetes negatively affect many Native Americans.
After graduating in 2016 with an exercise science and chemistry degree, Biakeddy may pursue graduate school or go right to work helping people.
“I’d rather work with my people, Native Americans, not just on the reservation but all over Arizona and maybe the nation,” Biakeddy added.
She plans to use the remainder of her 2015 term as Miss Indian NAU to continue outreach to school-aged children and others, raising cultural awareness and talking about healthy life choices.