With a mind set on making a difference for Native Americans, Daily Lobo reporter Hannah John is graduating from the University of New Mexico with a major in communications and a minor in Native American studies. Even through the COVID-19 pandemic, John has remained a fighter for equality in the face of cultural challenges.

With the future in mind, John has her sights set on bigger and better things, including the pursuit of a successful career in journalism with a focus on heightening the representation of her Native American culture in news media.

“I noticed that there’s a lack of Native journalists,” John said. “That’s why I’m going into (journalism), that’s why I applied to the Lobo and that’s why a lot of my stories are also Native-centric.”

John has written stories for the Daily Lobo tackling topics like the termination of the affordable housing agreement for students from Navajo Nation at UNM Rainforest and the impact of Native American voters

John said that oftentimes when Native Americans are written about by non-Natives, it can be “misrepresenting, to some extent.”

“That was one of the things I loved about writing for the Lobo,” John said. “I got to represent myself and my people.”

Raised in the Navajo Nation near Gallup, New Mexico, John previously attended UNM’s Gallup branch to finish her general studies and other prerequisite coursework. She’s been living at Lobo Rainforest since she started attending UNM’s main campus in 2019. Like many other students, the arrival of the pandemic and the transition into a COVID-safe environment created its fair share of challenges for John along her journey.

“The transition initially was pretty difficult,” John said. “From my point of view, I would say that online classes are much harder than classes (in person).”

John prefers face-to-face education compared to taking classes virtually, and the unexpected transition to virtual education at UNM proved to be an added challenge to John’s overall experience.

Because of this online setting, a great deal of students from other cities and states who were living on campus chose to go back home and attend classes remotely. John, however, chose to stay near UNM because internet accessibility is more difficult to come by in the Navajo Nation.

“She was on campus literally all the time and the majority of the time, she was by herself,” Deianira Mason, a close friend of John’s, said. 

As an already highly motivated and self-guided student, John was still able to adapt quickly and efficiently to the new world that we’re living in. The upcoming graduate utilized a multitude of tools to avoid falling behind in school, including time management skills and the use of electronic calendars to keep track of her schedule. 

John intends to utilize her writing experience and education to gain employment or an internship at a mainstream news outlet, whether it be for a news channel, a newspaper or an online publication. She hopes this step in her career will get her “foot in the door, and we’ll see where it goes from there.”

Jaden Brown is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at culture@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @DailyLobo