There is a famous Navajo Proverb that says “You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep.” You also can’t slow down a young man who is determined to make a difference. Brett Yazzie is such a person. A member of the Navaho nation, he wants to educate his community about health issues by becoming a pediatrician. “You need a clear vision of what you want to achieve and a game plan that you follow.”
What is remarkable is that Brett’s path was almost very different. As a student at Westwood High School in Mesa, he did not believe he was smart enough to succeed in college or a good enough student to receive a scholarship. All of his perceptions changed the day Brett was introduced to the ACE Program. He and all of his high school friends applied for admission to ACE thinking it would be a chance to spend the summer together. “Out of the eight of us, I was the only one accepted … was very lucky. It changed my life!”
“I was a little scared when I first entered the ACE Program without my friends, but I was also fascinated by the freedom and opportunity to make my own choices.” Brett credits the program with giving him the platform from which to launch his dreams. “I love kids and always thought it would be great to help others but ACE made me realize that I could be that someone kids could count on for help!”
Brett is also very grateful for the support that he received from his dad and step-mom during the time spent as an ACE student. “My parents went out of their way to make sure that I always got to my classes. They realized that I was smart and they showed me how proud they are of me … it really changed our family dynamic.”
Brett is currently enrolled at Mesa Community College where he continues to nurture the friendships formed during his ACE years. “I am at such an advantage. I’m never lost or unsure like my friends who just entered college for the first time … I have many friends on campus, both students and faculty. I know it sounds corny, but we are an ACE family,” chuckles Brett as he rushes off to meet friends on campus for lunch.