Meet Athen Canyon, a freshman studying business management. Canyon’s choice of major is a personal and professional one. As a Native American from the Navajo Nation, Canyon sees the value in learning about business management to not only improve her life but to uplift her community.

Canyon’s family has always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and that influenced her when she chose what to study.

“My tribe is a matriarchal society, so as the oldest daughter of my family I hold a lot of responsibility,” Canyon said. “I had the obligation to learn my traditions and to learn my language, which was the biggest part of my childhood.”

Canyon is also working to raise awareness about the challenges and obstacles Native Americans face in the business world. She shared that, growing up, she felt as if there was a lack of representation for Native Americans.

“I want to create opportunities for my community and give back to my people,” Canyon said. “I believe that a degree in business management will help me achieve this goal.”

Canyon is also passionate about promoting her culture and heritage and hopes to incorporate traditional Native American practices into her future business endeavors. She is currently working with BYU-I international studies and Campus Life Events to organize a powwow.

Canyon acknowledges that poverty remains a significant issue on the reservation, with limited access to grocery stores and hospitals. She also explained that the Navajo Nation is a sovereign nation with its own government and leaders.

“I hope to show that, despite everything, we are still here, and we are still represented,” Canyon said.

Through her work as an ambassador and model, she hopes to continue to represent her people and culture while raising awareness of the unique challenges that Native Americans face.

“I think it’s important to have representation,” Canyon said. “I think it’s important to have people who look like us and represent us, especially in the modeling industry where there aren’t a lot of Native Americans represented.”

Canyon expressed that she hopes that her story would encourage more young people to learn about and preserve their cultures, no matter where they come from.

“Our culture is a significant part of who we are, and it’s essential to keep it alive,” Canyon said.

Canyon shares that, cultural preservation isn’t just a personal mission. She’s also an ambassador for the Adopt-A-Native Elder program and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women USA organization, which allows her to travel and perform at various events. In addition, she became an ambassador for her tribe’s youth committee and the Navajo Nation society.

As she continues to pave the way for other Native Americans in business, she remains grounded in her cultural heritage and committed to creating a better future for her community.

In a world where many cultures are in danger of being lost, her commitment to preserving her own serves as a reminder that cultural diversity is not just something to be celebrated, but also something to be actively preserved.

To learn more about Navajo Nation, check out the Indian Health Service website.