Shawn Secatero, Ph.D., NASNTI Director
(Canoncito Band of Navajo) Dr. Secatero is from the Tohajiilee Community and has recently earned a doctorate in Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies from the University of New Mexico’s College of Education in 2009. He has directed various educational programs including the Canoncito School to Work and Youth Opportunity Grant Program, Tohajiilee Community School Bilingual Education Program, and served as Coordinator of Student Services at the American Indian Graduate Center’s Gates Millennium Scholars Program. Furthermore, Dr. Secatero has taught language arts, bilingual education, and career development for ten years in the Albuquerque Public School system and the Tohajiilee Community School. He has also worked as a post-doctoral scholar at the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, New Jersey and has taught college courses at the University of New Mexico and Central New Mexico Community College.
His educational background includes earning all degrees from the University of New Mexico which include an educational specialist certificate in educational leadership, teaching endorsements in language arts, bilingual education, and teaching English to Speakers of other languages, and a masters in secondary education and bachelors degree in journalism and English. His dissertation study, “Beneath Our Sacred Minds, Hands, and Hearts, Stories of Persistence and Success,” received highest honors of distinction at UNM in 2009. Dr. Secatero has presented his indigenous based well-being model at many universities and conferences across the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. His articles have appeared in New Mexico Magazine, People Before Columbus Journal, Winds of Change, and Journal of Multicultural Education, the Albuquerque Journal, and Visions Journal.
He continues to serve on various committees including the Source for Educational Empowerment and Community Development, the Native American Male Initiative in higher education, Canoncito Band of Navajo 12 member traditional council, and the NMSU Grants Retention & Success Committee, Campus Council, and the Native American Serving Non-Tribal Institutions Grant Leadership Council. In addition, he serves as the founder of the Striking Eagle Well being Education Circle and director of the New Mexico American Indian Basketball Classic and Education Fair.
Olivia Rael, Testing Center Coordinator
Olivia Rael, received her bachelors from the University of California and a Licensure in Elementary Education from New Mexico Highlands University. Her past work experience include: Early Interventionist for developmentally delayed infants and most recently, as an Intervention Specialist in Higher Education. Olivia is very passionate about assisting under resourced students in achieving their academic goals. She is currently the Testing Center Coordinator, at NMSU Grants, and is available to help students with study strategies, time management as well as in Reading Comprehension. Olivia and her husband are very busy raising their 5 children and helping with a grandson.
Rachelle Simpson, Adult Education Instructor
(Acoma/Jemez) Rachelle Simpson is from the Pueblos of Acoma and Jemez. She is the Adult Education Instructor for To’hajiilee. Rachelle received her A.A. in Pre-Business, Arts, and Sciences with a Certificate in Digital Film Technology from NMSU Grants. Currently, she is in the process of completing a B.B.A. in Marketing via Distance Education from NMSU. Rachelle has worked as a College Instructor for NMSU Grants, in which she taught Computer Basics. Coupled with her involvement with higher education, she is an intern evolved documentary filmmaker for Littleglobe Productions. In her spare time, she enjoys art endeavors, laughing, and outdoor activities. Ultimately, her goal is to provide welcoming and resourceful instruction at the To’hajiilee Outreach Center.
Sascha Larrabee, Transfer Advisor
Sascha Larrabee is our new transfer advisor here at New Mexico State University in Grants. Sascha is originally from Seattle, Washington, but her education and career pursuits have taken her all over the world. Whether teaching English in Korea, serving our nation’s military personnel in Germany, or bringing the joy of theatre to youth throughout the United States with the Missoula Children’s Theatre, Sascha has always had a passion for assisting others.
Her passion crystallized while employed at Seattle Central Community College and inspired her to receive her Master’s degree in College Counseling and Student Development from Azusa Pacific University. Her focus on nontraditional and marginalized student populations motivated her to conduct a study on the effectiveness of the veteran’s resource center at a nearby community college and to take a deeper look at the success rate of emancipated foster youth at four-year universities.
Sascha strongly believes all students should have an equal opportunity to find success in higher education and is thrilled to be part of the NMSU Grants community.
Ergil Vallo Jr, Professional Tutor
(Acoma Outreach Center) Ergil Vallo Jr is a member of the Acoma Pueblo and a recent college graduate. He has received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology-Criminology Option, Magna Cum Laude, from Fort Lewis College in Durango Colorado. While pursuing his undergraduate degree, he has interned for the Sixth Judicial District La Plata, San Juan, & Archuleta County Probation Department working under Senate Bill 94. He has also had prior experience being a Peer Tutor for the TRIO Program for Academic Advancement. Ergil is a very outgoing person who loves to laugh and learn. His personal philosophy is, “Education and learning never stops, everyday you learn something new.”
Jordan Etcitty, Professional Tutor
(Canoncito Band of Navajo) Jordan Etcitty is from the Tohajiilee Community and has recently earned his bachelors in Economics from the University of New Mexico. Jordan has voluntary hours working at community centers across Albuquerque to students who live in a socioeconomic environment. In his spare time, he enjoys sports such as Basketball and Volleyball. Ultimately, his goal is to help his Native American people who are in need of education, because he believes that education is the key to success.
(L to R: Felicia Casados, NMSU Grants President, Beth Armstead, Vice President for Student Services, April Armijo, Eileen Martinez, Rachelle Simpson, and Dr. Shawn Secatero)