Most Viewed Stories
Cibola student making mark at D.C. conference
Jesse-Manuel Begay wants to be a doctor and a leader someday. For the high-achieving Cibola High School senior, they're the same thing.
To get a glimpse of leadership, and history, Begay is in Washington, D.C., right now to take part in a youth conference that includes a spot at the upcoming presidential inauguration.
Begay, a member of the Cocopah Indian Tribe and resident of the north Cocopah reservation, said he is excited to represent his tribe, his school and the Yuma area at the nation's capitol at the High School Presidential Inaugural Conference. He's so excited, “I don't even know how to explain it,” he said.
His conference, which started Saturday and runs through Wednesday, includes workshops, a gala, a screening and panel discussion of “All the President's Men,” and keynote addresses by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe and one-time presidential candidate.
Begay landed in Washington early to take advantage of better flight deals, which also allowed him to sightsee Friday with his cousin who is stationed in Virginia with the Navy. As they walked along the National Mall – where they may have crossed behind Wolf Blitzer while he filmed his CNN program – Begay could see how the city was humming for the inauguration, with speakers and row after row of chairs already set up.
Begay, 18, voted for Mitt Romney but said he has respect for Barack Obama and is looking forward to seeing him take the oath of office.
This is Begay's second time in D.C. His first trip was in 2010, when he attended the National Youth Leadership Conference on the recommendation of his drama teacher, Amy Violette, and learned about the branches of government. Being an alumnus of that program allowed him to be invited back to D.C. this year.
His tribe helped with his current endeavor, paying for half of his trip.
Begay is an actively involved member of the Cibola student body. He's in the top 10 percent of his class and has been on the honor roll throughout high school. He's also a musician with the school marching band and plays the clarinet, flute, alto and baritone saxophones, and the trombone.
In addition, he drums in his family's gospel music band, Native Praise. He will be attending the University of Arizona in the fall.
He decided to become a doctor when he was a freshman in high school, after watching his family go through two stressful medical events: his grandfather's cancer, from which he has since passed, and a scary moment when his little brother had seizure after a high fever. He's especially interested in practicing medicine for his fellow Cocopah Tribe members.
Begay said his parents raised him to work hard. He also credits his Christian faith for his accomplishments.
“It's a blessing to be here to represent my family and my tribe,” he said.
Hillary Davis can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6857. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSHillaryDavis or on Twitter at @YSHillaryDavis.