HUMANS OF THE U: RACHEAL HOLIDAY

“My name is Racheal Holiday. I am of the Coyote Pass-Jemez People Clan. I am born for Black Sheep People Clan. I am a Navajo Woman, and Miss University of Utah American Indian Women’s Scholar (AIWS).

AIWS is an ambassador to Native American students here on campus, but the title is what you make it. A big part for me is inspiring the youth that college is possible. I grew up on the Navajo reservation in Arizona, but many people who lived off the reservation don’t know their traditions. I try to tell my story, speak the Navajo language, and encourage others to use our traditional values as resilience to continue to go to school and fight through hardships. Our ancestors went through a lot of trauma, and the only thing that kept them strong was their culture. I want students to embrace that.

Our elders tell us, ‘Don’t forget where you came from.’ I went to college to help my people because I saw a lot of problems there. Not just in my community, but within my own family. My father and mother both struggled with alcohol, and I know Native American populations everywhere struggle with that same issue. There’s not a lot of running water, there’s hardly any electricity for some people. A lot of people stray away from the reservation because of those problems, but there’s a lot of good teachings back home.

Living in a poverty-stricken community, I had to inspire myself to understand what impact I wanted to make. I knew I had to get an education and bring that knowledge back to make a difference. I give inspirational speeches to children, youth conferences and at different events to tell the youth to keep learning and experiencing things to better yourself. Sooner or later, you’ll end up where you want to be.”

— Racheal Holiday is the 2017-2018 Miss University of Utah American Indian Women’s Scholar, a Gates Millennium and Coca-Cola scholar. She studies health promotion education with community emphasis in the College of Health. Holiday serves as a student leader in both the Inter-Tribal Student Association and American Indian Science and Engineering Society, and sits on the campus diversity council.

We’ll be featuring Humans of the U and sharing their stories throughout the year with the university community. If you know someone with a compelling story, let us know at ThisWeek@utah.edu.