By Alejandro Dominguez Herald Writer
Culture is very important for 19-year-old Nicota Stevenson.
He takes pride of his Pueblo and Hoopa* Valley tribal heritage, and one way he expresses it is with a tattoo of a sun on his left arm.
He said it is a Pueblo symbol representing the obligations a man has, which includes obligations to his physical and mental well-being.
Stevenson, who is graduating from Monroe High School as one of the school’s 11 valedictorians, plans to attend Yale University to pursue a degree in business economics and then study corporate law at Harvard or another Ivy League school. Stevenson has a 4.0 GPA and has been active in different clubs and with community service, and has taken Advanced Placement and honors classes. He believes his American Indian heritage also helped him get into Yale.
He attributes his success to family and teachers. He also points to the Skykomish Valley Indian Education program that helps students with American Indian roots in Sultan, Monroe and Snohomish by promoting cultural awareness.
Through this program, Stevenson started learning about his culture when he was in fifth grade. He participated in powwows and he even crafted a wooden flute two years ago that he still plays.
“Knowing where you come from makes it easier to make a course for your future, and makes you more confident as a person,” Stevenson said. “I try to make my culture a part of my life.”
Stevenson is one of about a dozen of American Indian students graduating from the Monroe School District this year.
Mars Miller, family liaison coordinator for the Skykomish Valley Indian Education Center, met Stevenson when he was in middle school.
“Nicota has been always focused on his goals,” Miller said. “He has focus in balancing his life, school, culture, sports and community service.”
She said that Nicota held himself to high standards.
“I have no doubt he will succeed.”
Class of 2013