U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland speaks at UNM Commencement and NALSA Graduation and Blanket Ceremony

June 13, 2024

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, who made history when she became the first Native American cabinet secretary in U.S. history, delivered the commencement address at the University of New Mexico School of Law’s Native American Law Student Association (NALSA) Graduation and Blanket Ceremony as well as at UNM’s spring commencement ceremony at the Pit.

Secretary Haaland received a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1994 at UNM and earned her Juris Doctor from the School of Law in 2006. She is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and a 35th generation New Mexican. She ran for U.S. Congress in 2018 and won, making her one of the first two Native women to serve in Congress.

“A lot of people didn’t think that as a Native American woman, I’d win my primary much less the general election, but anything worth having is worth working hard for and my hard work proved a lot of people wrong. Yours will too,” Secretary Haaland told students at UNM’s commencement.

The Graduation and Blanket Ceremony honored Indigenous graduates and those involved in NALSA, the Tribal Law Journal (TLJ), the Pre-Law Summer Institute, the Southwest Indian Law Clinic (SILC) and the Law and Indigenous Peoples Program (LIPP). Graduates included: Alejandro Alvarado, NALSA, TLJ, SILC; Shaniya Decker, Séliš, Nakoda & Turtle Mountain Chippewa, PLSI, NALSA, TLJ, SILC, LIPP; Valerie DiBernardo, NALSA, TLJ, SILC; Lauren Earls, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, NALSA, TLJ, SILC, LIPP; Ricardo Guadarrama, NALSA, TLJ, SILC; Justin Lauriano, San Felipe Pueblo and Sandia Pueblo, PLSI, NALSA, TLJ; Xaveria Mayerhofer, NALSA, TLJ, SILC, LIPP; and Sage Wagner, Jemez Pueblo and Santo Domingo Pueblo, PLSI, NALSA.