Division of Indian Affairs director to speak at commencement
Building bridges through education and cooperation has been a lifelong passion for Shirlee Silversmith, tapped to deliver the commencement address for the Utah State University Eastern Blanding Campus on April 26 at 1 p.m. in the San Juan High School auditorium.
Silversmith heads up the Utah Division of Indian Affairs that focuses on promoting positive intergovernmental relations between the state of Utah and the state’s American Indian tribes. For 20 years prior to that, she worked with the Utah State Office of Education as the Indian Education Specialist.
Before becoming UDIA director, Silversmith directed “Learning for Life,” an affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America with the Utah National Parks Council. Her work involved facilitating a career development program for youth, including programs to tribal nations.
Commencement proceedings will include Chancellor Joe Peterson awarding the Chancellor’s Medallion to Monticello Mayor Doug Allen, owner of Blue Mountain Foods and chairman of the USU Eastern Blanding Advisory Board, and to San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman.
The Price and Blanding campuses together are graduating 312 students – 192 female and 120 male – ranging in ages 17 to 57. The majority of the graduates, 274, are from Utah with a few dozen more spread across eight states and seven countries.
The top 10 most popular majors among the graduates are associate of science, associate of arts, RN nursing, LPN nursing, criminal justice, medical assisting, welding, business, cosmetology and accounting.
Student speakers include McKale Simpson, of Blanding, a general major, and Lorraine Rose, of Blanding, majoring in nursing.
While with the Utah State Office of Education, Silversmith was primarily responsible for improving Indian education within elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools throughout the Utah public school system. She also directed outreach efforts and training for improved relations with tribal nations and educations.
She facilitated the development of the Indian education strategic plan and organized the Utah American Indian/Alaska Native Education Advisory Committee. Other achievements include developing grants and funding to cultivate American Indian curriculum and resource materials.
Silversmith received a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Brigham Young University and a masters from Arizona State University.