Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American in history to serve as a cabinet secretary, will deliver the virtual keynote address at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law 2021 convocation ceremony, May 11, 2021.
Graduating JD student Paulene Abeyta, who served as a volunteer and community organizer for Secretary Haaland during her congressional term, will provide the introduction.
The ceremony, including Secretary Haaland’s pre-recorded remarks, will stream online at commencement.arizona.edu.
Secretary Haaland, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna, was one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress and was the first Native American woman to lead a state political party in the country. In Congress, she focused on environmental justice, climate change, veterans' issues, missing and murdered indigenous women, supporting Tribal issues, and family-friendly policies.
Secretary Haaland attended 13 public schools as a child raised in a military family before graduating from Highland High School in Albuquerque. At the age of 28, Secretary Haaland enrolled at the University of New Mexico (UNM) where she earned a bachelor's degree in English and later earned her J.D. from UNM Law School. After law school, she ran her own salsa company, worked as a tribal administrator at San Felipe Pueblo and was appointed the first woman to chair the Laguna Development Corporation, where she advocated for environmentally friendly policies and oversaw business operations of the second largest tribal gaming enterprise in New Mexico.