JOBS for AMERICA'S GRADUATES

Zuni students shadow local mentors

By Vida Volkert
Gallup Independent Staff writer eastnavajo@gallupindependent.com


ZUNI — It was Monday morning and Myra Halusewa was not in school. The 19-year-old senior had just been dropped off at the Zuni Tribal Detention Center.

She was excited and had been waiting for this day for several months. When Corrections Administrator Tyler Lastiyano gave her a tour of the facility and allowed her to observe the day’s work activity from the control room, the young girl knew that was it.

“I knew I wanted my career to become corrections officer,” she said hours later during a lunch break at the Twin Buttes High School. “I want to work in the control room, watching everything that is being done.”

Lastiyano, who was sitting next to Halusewa during lunch, said the state-of-the art facility at Zuni includes a computer operated control room with cameras and access to every cell and room. Halusewa was intrigued by the technology.

“It was like a real job interview,” she said.

Halusewa was one of about 25 students from Twin Buttes and the Zuni High School who participated in the Jobs for America’s Graduates Job Shadowing Day at the pueblo Monday.

Two of Halusewa’s friends, Lacie Eustace, 17, and Derricka Waikaniwa, 16, chose to shadow members of the Zuni Police. Their experience also confirmed that their future is in law enforcement. The girls liked the idea of working for an agency that provides a vehicle and pays for gas, they said.

Bijon Zunie, 18, chose to shadow Bernadette Panteah, director of Zuni Education and Career Development Center. While he learned about spreadsheets and other computer programs, he plans to follow a career in art.

“There was no artist to shadow,” he said.

Emily Eriacho, 17, shadowed Carmelita Sanchez, the Zuni Pueblo chief of staff.

Eriacho did not know about Sanchez’s term in office as lieutenant governor in 2002-2006 until they got together that morning. She was surprised and more excited about her choice.

“I was like ‘go girls,’” she said. “I chose her because she is the boss.”

During lunch students gave their mentors a certificate of appreciation. Zuni Gov. Arlen Quetawki Sr. stressed the importance of the program because it offers youth a glimpse or introduction to prospective careers in the community and may help them stay focused and motivated to graduate from high school.

Susan Montoya, Jobs for America’s Graduates specialist with the Zuni Public School District, organized the event. Jobs for America’s Graduates is a state-based national nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing dropouts among young people who are most at-risk.