At its Aug. 17 meeting, the Navajo County Community College District Governing Board awarded the Northland Pioneer College outstanding alumnus award to a well-known, well-loved, longtime NPC employee, Lorraine Benally.
Lorraine manages the NPC Kayenta Center and was busy registering students and was unable to attend the meeting. She, with the help of academic adviser, Myrtle Dayzie-Grey, attend to the facility’s interactive audio and video systems, schedule face-to-face and distance education classes, monitor tests, troubleshoot for faculty, and counsel, encourage and smooth the way for an average 100 students enrolled at the busy center each semester.
Dayzie-Grey (at right in photo) nominated her for the outstanding alum honor citing the many extra lengths Lorraine goes to on behalf of students, from recruiting faculty for a much needed course to helping students obtain financial aid to simply being available to staff and students Mondays through Fridays, 12 hours a day. “Student service is in Lorraine’s bones. She will do any and everything possible to accommodate a student’s needs,” Myrtle said in her letter of nomination.
“It can be a 24-7 job,” admits Lorraine; “there’s always something happening.” She even can find it hard to get her errands done without having to deal with NPC issues at the store or the post office. Last week, at the chiropractor’s office, she was asked if she were “that NPC lady?” When she admitted she was, she had to spend part of her visit explaining why the Kayenta Center had been closed for the summer.
It’s easy to see why Lorraine might be regarded as the “NPC Lady.” She first began attending classes “off and on” at the old NPC center building in Kayenta when she was still at Monument Valley High School in 1977. In the spring of 1994, when she was a regular NPC student, the then-center manager asked Lorraine if she might be interested in a position as a Federal Work Study (FWS) student. “I thought it might be nice to work around the place a while, so I took it,” Lorraine recalls. By fall of that same year, she was hired to be the center’s academic adviser. Five years later she became the manager, and is still at it today!
Lorraine was born in and raised in Kayenta and lives there today. She is a single mother of four, two daughters and two sons, and the proud grandmother of one with another grandbaby due in October. Raising her kids, (“Making sure they went to school and got jobs”) were top priorities over the years. Now that all are educated and gainfully employed, Lorraine is considering taking more time for herself. “I’ve got 20 credit hours at NAU and I’d like to finally get my bachelor’s degree.” (She earned two NPC degrees: An Associate of Arts (AA) in Social Work in 1997 and an Associate of Applied Science AAS in Human Services in 1998.) “For my work at NPC, I’d like to get a degree in public administration.”
As a “lifelong” student herself, Lorraine encourages students to start out, as she did, at a community college like NPC. “But they should keep on going until they reach a goal of a bachelor’s or a master’s degree. They shouldn’t do what I did and interrupt their goals.”
Once she gets her students headed down the pathway to a good education she adds, “I always ask them to come back and teach for NPC!”
With the many responsibilities in her life, it’s easy to see why the favorite activity of the “NPC Lady” is getting away to sheep camp where she cares for her mixed herd of sheep and goats and three ‘rez’ dogs’. “It’s good to go to camp when life becomes overwhelming; taking a drive on the scenic road to Black Mesa gives me time to think and clear my thoughts. And the animals are always very appreciative of my visit!”
As an outstanding alumna, Lorraine receives a three-credit-hour tuition gift certificate, NPC merchandise and a pass to NPC Performing Arts events.
If you are interested in nominating a former NPC student for an outstanding alumni award, find the form and instructions on the NPC Web site at www.npc.edu/support-npc/alumni-association.