Grand Prize Winner

Laci D. Begaye

Yá’át’ééh! Laci Begaye yinishyé. Naakai Dine’é nishłį́. Kin ł ichii’nii bashishchiin. ‘Áshįįhi dashicheii. Táchii’nii dashinalí. Ákót’éego diné asdzáán nishłį́.

(In English): Hello! My name is Laci Begaye. I am part of the Mexican People Clan, born for the Red House People Clan. My maternal grandfather is the Salt People Clan, my paternal grandfather is the Red Running into the Water People Clan. In this way, I am a Navajo woman.

I was born and raised in the four-corners area, and I call the Navajo reservation my home. I am a junior in college majoring in English Secondary Education. I chose my major so I can help Native students become successful and confident in themselves as well as the world that surrounds them. I feel very passionate about maintaining our natural world because my ancestors had a deep respect for the world around us, and I would like to pass these values on to the next generation of indigenous youth.

> Read Laci’s winning essay.


Ruby Valencia

I’m Ruby, a first-generation Latina at UNLV studying political science! I’m Vegas born & raised and I love exploring Nevada’s beautiful deserts in my free time! I’m an avid environmental advocate, interning at the Nevada Conservation League where I help spread our message: to maintain and enhance the natural character of Nevada and the quality of life for Nevadans through effective advocacy, the election of pro-conservation candidates and building collaboration.

I believe in stopping climate change, protecting public lands, and environmental justice. Join your local conservation community and let’s make change happen!

>> Read Ruby’s winning essay.


Alex Sanchez

I’m Alex. Originally from New Mexico, I moved to Tucson AZ to pursue my education. I’m currently majoring in psychology and creative writing with a minor in Africana Studies, and plan to pursue a PhD in social psychology upon graduation with the hopes of doing research on social constructs such as gender, stereotypes, and injustice. I also hope to continue to write and publish creative non-fiction essays.

My favorite outdoor activities include yoga and napping on the University of Arizona campus under the sun.

>> Read Alex’s winning essay.