Driven by her passion for helping others, Athen Nanabah Canyon is a student, fashion model and advocate for Native Americans.

Canyon is a junior studying business administration and international business at BYU-Idaho. Her love for languages and making money spurred her choice to study these disciplines. She has great linguistic interest and hopes to one day build a company that will thrive in different cultures. 

Canyon was born and raised in Utah. Her mom is from New Mexico, so she lived between both states. Her family moved to Louisiana when she was in middle school and lives there presently. She then moved to Idaho for school and shared that she has enjoyed her time tremendously.

“I really like it here,” Canyon said. “It’s very simple. The people are pretty nice and it’s been super awesome to meet people of different backgrounds and cultures.”

Canyon believes that college is all about learning from other people and gaining new experiences and doing the best you can in dire situations.

“Grades are important, but I don’t think that they’re the main thing of college,” Canyon said. “Being on your own and learning to be an adult is the main thing.”

Canyon began modeling at 11 years old and was signed by her agency at 13. She models for different designers and indigenous and non-profit companies for Native Americans.

A picture of Athen from her porfolio. Photo courtesy of Athen Canyon.
A picture of Athen from her porfolio. Photo courtesy of Athen Canyon.

As a model and college student, Canyon tries her best to balance both occupations. 

“One part of modeling is taking care of yourself, so throughout college I do my best to take care of myself,” Canyon said. “To keep my body in shape, to work out, to eat right, to focus on school as well. I realized that I have a responsibility to my agency and to my job, and so I kind of do my best in balancing the work life.”

She is also part of the Native American Society on campus. There are several Native American societies in Idaho, one of which is the Shoshone-Bannock. The tribe is located in Blackfoot and has a reservation there.

The society was established to raise awareness of these tribes. It has conferences to talk about missing indigenous women and how to help them. AMELAT, a BYU-I dance group, also features members of different Native American tribes.

Canyon considers herself a curious person. She learns a lot from the people and situations around her and enjoys gaining new experiences. 

“I’m kind of like a sponge,” Canyon said. “I also like to do things that people normally wouldn’t do.”

Canyon is a social butterfly and likes to separate her relationships from one another. She is close to her family and keeps in touch with her childhood friends back home as well as the friends she has made during her time in Rexburg.

Athen Canyon at Cultural Night. Photo credit: Chester Chan.
Athen Canyon at Cultural Night. Photo credit: Chester Chan.

Canyon’s advice to freshmen is to search for their purpose and take time to figure things out. Understanding oneself has always been a big thing for her. 

She tries to update her social media when she can. To keep up with her, follow her Instagram

Canyon also said she loves Rexburg’s cultural nights because people can share their different cultures with each other. She has performed at most cultural nights.