PWNA CEO Addresses Haskell’s Graduating Classes of 2020 and 2021

Recently, PWNA president & CEO Joshua Arce had the opportunity to speak with graduates of Haskell Indian Nations University as part of an unofficial graduation ceremony for the classes of 2020 and 2021. The ceremony took place on Friday, May 7 at Sacred Ground Haskell in Lawrence, Kansas.

Arce, a Kansas native and citizen of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, was the honorary keynote speaker of this unique graduate recognition program. It was organized by Sacred Ground Haskell, an outreach of Lutheran Indian Ministries and local community center situated across the street from Haskell. While the university canceled its official graduation ceremonies for 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, the community-led graduation ceremony was attended by approximately 50 students and many others who tuned in virtually.

As a graduate and prior employee of Haskell for nearly 12 years before joining PWNA in 2020, Arce shared how meaningful their achievement is for each student, as well as their families and loved ones who will be positively impacted by it.  

“Your accomplishments come after a commitment was made, degree requirements were met, and goals were achieved,” said Arce. “Be mindful of how your decisions today – both academic and social – will influence the future that you cannot see.”

As part of the keynote address, Arce recognized the faculty members and instructors at Haskell and encouraged a much-deserved round of applause for their work and perseverance. He also acknowledged the challenges of the past year and the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the community at large, and for many at home.

Most importantly, Arce reminded graduates of the importance of working hard to achieve what’s in your heart. He shared how his life experiences up to this point led him to where he is today with PWNA, leading a nonprofit organization that is committed to championing hope for Native Americans living in remote, geographically isolated and impoverished reservation communities.

On behalf of all of us at PWNA, we congratulate the graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 across Indian Country and the U.S.

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