In our recurring series of staff profiles, we sat down with Ruesh Yazzie, who recently joined the National Center. Ruesh is a veteran of the U.S. Army, serving from 2007 to 2010, and is currently working on a new platform to help American Indian and Alaska Native veterans start their own business. Learn more about this proud aunt who is picking up a new “hobby” – homework.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work in Indian Country.

My full name is Rueshelle Hastings Yazzie. I am San Carlos (Walnut clan), White Mountain Apache (Eagle Clan), and Navajo (Kinyaa’aanii). I grew up on the Navajo Reservation and spent my adolescent years on the Fort Apache Reservation. My grandmother and aunt did a great job raising me and instill in me important values, and I am proud that I am now an aunt to 12 nieces and nephews. I have an Associates Degree in Medical Specialties from College America as well as an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts from Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute.

Prior to joining the National Center, I served in the U.S. Army. I not only did this for myself, but I wore the uniform to serve the American people and the people of Indian Country specifically to honor our past, present, and future.

I have also worked with Helping Everyday Youth, or HEDY, where I coordinated a STEM program for the school district. Working with the youth – the future of the world – and the White Mountain Apache Tribe was very rewarding. They taught me a lot and I can only hope I was able to make a difference in their lives as well.

I was also a correctional officer for the Fort Apache Indian Tribe. This job gave me the opportunity to sit and talk with many inmates and impart the knowledge I’ve gained over many years. I enjoyed being able to give back and see some people change for the better.
I hope to continue giving back to Indian Country through my work at the National Center.

2. What made you interested in joining the National Center?

It is a great opportunity to give back to Indian Country, but it will also teach me so much more about business, as well as Indian Country’s other needs. It was the perfect match and I knew it would open other opportunities as well.

3. What have you enjoyed about your experience at the National Center?

I really like my coworkers and the environment we’ve created. We are a family away from family. It keeps us close, and we have the chemistry needed to be a great team. They care about and understand me as a person. It is just all around great to be working with the National Center. The team aspect means I look forward to going to work in the morning.

4. What are some of your current projects?

We are currently getting ready for our biggest event, the Reservation Economic Summit in Las Vegas. I am personally working on a website to help American Indian and Alaska Native veterans who are considering starting a business. As a veteran myself, I am excited about this opportunity and think it could be a big help to our community.

5. What’s the one piece of advice or words of encouragement you would give to a young professional who wants to get more involved in his or her tribe, or the broader American Indian and Alaska Native community?

Never Give Up. Never forget who you are, or where you come from. Anything is possible with prayer, dedication, and positive self-esteem. Failures are a part of growing, so never be ashamed of your downfalls; this is where you learn the hardest but most important lessons. Always know there are greater days ahead, and that even one person can make a difference.

6. When you’re not working on attending a National Center event, where can we find you? What are your hobbies?

When I am not at work, you can find me on the road either with my nieces or on my own. My hobbies include dancing, drawing, writing, and painting, I have also decided to further my education by going back to school and pursuing a BA in Business, so homework will soon be my new “hobby!”