Paige Laughing/Courtesy photo
Krystal Laughing/Courtesy photo
BY JENNIFER HOLMES
White Rock Presbyterian Church
Two Navajo sisters will be graduating from the University of New Mexico at the end of 2022 with support from the Julie’s Helpers Memorial Scholarship administered by White Rock Presbyterian Church.
The scholarship honors the memory of Julie Meadows, a young mother and LANL employee who died of a brain tumor in 2009. Before her death, Julie had been inspired by the resilience of Navajo women and desired to positively impact life on the Reservation. Her family, church, friends, and community have supported the scholarship for eleven years, raising over $40,000 for 25 scholarships since 2011.
Krystal Laughing will receive a $2500 scholarship to complete her studies in psychology and social work. Paige Laughing earned a $1000 award from the scholarship committee as she completes her degree in elementary education. Both women are from Rock Springs, NM, just north of Gallup and both maintain a 3.9 GPA as they complete their last semesters.
Krystal Laughing plans to obtain a graduate degree in Social Work and return to the Navajo Nation to help individuals and families connect with their traditional values to heal and overcome adversity. She says, “In Navajo tradition, k’é, or kinship is foundational in helping your community and even those who have fallen off their path.” Her own strong extended family and her rigorous coursework at UNM has inspired and prepared her to become a Social Worker.
Paige Laughing is currently doing her student teaching in Window Rock, Arizona, the capital of the Navajo Nation. This semester she will take over the teaching and management of a first-grade class under the supervision of her mentor teacher. Paige notes that at times it has been challenging to keep her high GPA, teach full time and raise her three-year old daughter. But with the help of her parents, she has been able to persevere and succeed. Paige also intends to complete graduate work in education after she graduates in December 2022.
Both Krystal and Paige will be first generation college graduates in their family. They honor the sacrifices their parents, Dalpha and Malcolm Laughing made to help keep them striving for college degrees. In addition, both women remember the strong influence of their maternal grandmother who helped raise them. Everyday their grandma, who did not speak English and had never been to school, would tell them, “Nizhónígo da’ íínolta’ shiyazhi,” “Go to school in beauty.”
Scholarships are based on academic merit, dedication to serving the Navajo people and financial need. Donations are appreciated and can be made at julieshelpers.com or sent to White Rock Presbyterian Church, 310 Rover Blvd., White Rock NM 87547. More information about Julie Meadows, the scholarship application forms, past winners and photos can be seen at the scholarship website, julieshelpers.com.