Capitalizing upon the meaning of “eagle” in his personal and academic life, Arlando S. Teller, who in 1995 was the first Navajo ever to receive a degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s (ERAU) Prescott campus, exhorted 244 graduating students to take the symbolic meaning of the school mascot to heart and to soar as high as they could in their careers and lives.
Teller, a Chinle native and grandson of a Navajo Code Talker, explained with dignified passion why the majestic bird has such special meaning to him.
Displaying a sacred eagle feather, he explained, “In our Navajo culture, the eagle and eagle feathers represent the greatest, strongest, most powerful, most visionary, most harmonious with nature, and closest to the Great Spirit that is possible. We Navajos place our prayers on eagle feathers – for blessing, for healing, for family and for good fortune. If we trust the truth of our prayers and strength, power and beauty of the eagle as it carries our dreams skyward, we can be confident of success.”
Teller, elected in November 2018 as a District 7 representative to the Arizona Legislature, said he placed the same kind of faith in the ERAU eagle and its symbolic importance in the university educational process.
Teller represents seven counties, eight Native American Tribes and more than 50 communities in the largest legislative district in the U.S. He earned an aviation business administration degree at ERAU. He praised degree recipients, calling them “graduates of the world’s most prestigious aeronautical and aerospace institution.”
“Trust in the strength, truth, wisdom and power of the education you receive at this great university. I urge you, my fellow eagles, to journey with the spirit of the eagle and all it symbolizes, and you will soar.”
Graduating students and hundreds in the audience gave Teller an enthusiastic ovation.
Largest Winter Commencement in 41-year History
Fall semester 2019 commencement ceremonies concluded the term Dec. 14, at the Prescott Valley Findlay Event Center.
Students from 15 nations were among the graduates.
ERAU President Barry Butler, Daytona Beach, Florida, and Chancellor Anette Karlsson, ERAU Prescott, guided other commencement activities, including commissioning of ROTC officers. Seventeen were sworn as second lieutenants into the U.S. Air Force and four into the U.S. Army.
In addition, Karlsson honored an outstanding graduating senior scholar and an outstanding community service award contributor. “I have no problem in saying these graduating students are among the brightest people who have ever attended any university,” she said.
This past fall saw a record-breaking enrollment at the Prescott campus with almost 3,000 students. ERAU is the world’s largest, oldest and most comprehensive higher education institution specializing in aviation, aerospace, engineering and related programs. The university offers more than 100 associate, baccalaureate and master’s and doctorate programs in Colleges of Arts & Sciences, Aviation, Business, Engineering and Security & Intelligence.
The university is on holiday break until Jan 7, when registration and orientation occur. Spring semester classes begin Jan 8, and the semester ends May 2. QCBN
By Ray Newton, QCBN