Outstanding Native American Graduating Senior Award, Bahti Award, 2020-2021

May 7, 2021

Rita Valenzuela


Graduating Senior Award, “Bahti Award”

Ms. Valenzuela also has an exceptional record of service, both to our University and to the larger community. As a first-generation student, she is particularly passionate about helping other students like herself to achieve their goals, much as in the way she herself was helped along the way. Ms. Valenzuela’s community service began as a Volunteer College Coach for the Metropolitan Education Commission, where she volunteered to help her peers obtain scholarships and apply to FAFSA. Ms. Valenzuela has served the community in a number of other ways. In 2021, Ms. Valenzuela interned for Congressman Raúl Grijalva. She has visited elementary schools in low-income neighborhoods to teach children about climate change.

Maria Porter

Assistant Professor,

Department of Political Economy and Moral Science

Peter Vanderschraaf


Department of Political Economy and Moral Science


“First I would like to thank the University of Arizona's Native American Student Affairs for bestowing this most unexpected honor on me. I will remember this day with great pride and I pledge to honor you as I move forward on my journey. I would also like to take this moment to acknowledge the people in my life that have helped make this possible. I would like to thank the wonderful administrators, teachers and staff at Sunnyside High School and the District for providing me with the building blocks for a successful college career. I would also like to thank my beloved University of Arizona, and all my professors and fellow students in the Philosophy/Politics/Economics/Law Program, who lifted my mind, soul, and helped me ponder on new ideals. I would like to thank my boyfriend Paul Cicala (USC ALUMNI) for inspiring me to be productive and for promoting the celebration of diversity. It also brings me honor to also acknowledge Dr. Charlinda Haudley, Karla Morales, and Michelle F. Mckelvey since they manage to provide me with meaningful work and taught me professionalism at its finest. Most importantly I would like thank the University of Arizona’s Arizona Assurance program, Earn to Learn, and Dollars for Scholars for financial contributions to my education and the resources/workshops they provided me with. Last, but certainly not least, I would like to extend my immeasurable gratitude to Mr. David Jaime Rodriguez for seeing my potential, enriching my network of people, and surprising me with items like food and blankets when I moved to my dorm since I was financial incapable. It is dawn and my journey has just begun, but I know and feel that what you've given me here today, and for the last four years, will fuel me far on my way. Thank you!"
- Rita Valenzuela