May 21, 2013 by Samuel Horstman, NMSU News Center
New Mexico State University student Valerie Lujan was crowned Miss Native American NMSU 2013-2014 during the university’s celebration of American Indian Week in April.
“Valerie was present throughout the week and expressed her interest in being Miss Native American NMSU,” said Justin McHorse, American Indian Program director. “She has been actively involved with the American Indian Program and really has a great network among the student body.”
McHorse said the Miss Native American NMSU pageant is different from traditional pageants; it is more cultural and academic. A student must also demonstrate knowledge of their culture.
“Being selected is an amazing opportunity. I was overjoyed,” Lujan said. “It has been a wonderful experience so far. There is so much support. Being able to inspire fellow students and my community is awesome.”
Lujan is double majoring in pre-nursing and hotel, restaurant and tourism management. She is a tribal member of Taos Pueblo and has been active in the American Indian Program, along with other NMSU organizations since her freshman year.
Now that Lujan has been selected she plans to take her involvement with NMSU even further.
“I have gone out and encouraged students to pursue a higher education,” she said. “In my community only 15 people graduated from my class, two are still in college three years later. I want to use my accomplishments here at NMSU to inspire other students to stay in school.”
American Indian Week was organized by the NMSU American Indian Science and Engineering Society, the United Native American Organization and the Native American Business Student Association with support from the American Indian Program. American Indian Week was also sponsored by ASNMSU.
McHorse is not involved in the selection process, but was happy to see both he and Lujan are members of Taos Pueblo.
“I am very proud of Valerie,” McHorse said. “She will have a significant impact on the youth to consider college. It is great to see the younger generation taking advantage of higher education.”