CCC student overcomes her fears


CCC alum Danielle Butler is currently studying for her bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice at NAU.


FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- She grew up on the Navajo Nation and graduated from Tuba City High School in 2010.

With high hopes, Danielle Butler went straight to Arizona State University the next fall.

“My first semester at ASU, I felt very lost on a big campus and didn’t know what would be expected of me,” she said.

She left after a semester and returned home.

“When I came home, my grandfather would ask me when I would be going back to school,” Butler said. “I didn’t have an answer.”

She was afraid of failing, of not being able to afford tuition, but something in her kept her from losing sight of the importance of an education.

“I wasn’t about to give up on myself,” Butler said. “My grandfather always told my brother and me how important education is and that learning is a never-ending process.”

She didn’t want to ask her mother, a single parent, to pay for her education because her mother was already taking care of her 95-year-old grandfather. So, she got a job and enrolled at Coconino Community College because it was close to home and much less expensive.

“It was a little bit frightening,” Butler said of her experience of returning to college. “I was a little out of my comfort zone.”

She would travel from Tuba City to Flagstaff twice a week to go to class, and she had to take a break with the birth of her daughter, Evelyn.

“I couldn’t afford to live in Flagstaff, but with the help of my husband Joshua and family babysitting along with gas money, I couldn’t be more blessed,” Butler said.

By 2015, she had received her associate’s degree in Administration of Justice. She’s now seeking a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Sociology at Northern Arizona University.

While at CCC, Butler said she noticed the small classes, the one-on-one conversations students could have with instructors. She saw more Native American students in her classes, which made her more comfortable. And, most importantly, it seemed to her that her instructors were amazingly invested in the achievement of the students.

“It was helpful because I knew exactly what I needed to be doing,” Butler said, adding that the resources available at Student Services helped immensely. She credited one faculty member in particular, Linda Barker, for sparking her interest in Sociology.

“She didn’t give up on me, and for that, I am very grateful to have had a teacher like her,” Butler said. “She is very inspirational to me, and I appreciate her always leaving her office door open for her students.”

When Butler graduates from NAU, she is intent on what she wants to do.

“I want to do probation,” Butler said. “Most probably juvenile probation because that’s where it all starts – with the youth.”

Her mother was a probation officer and now serves as a tribal legal advocate in Tuba City. Butler said she herself was a “troubled” teen. She said that by going into the field, like her mother did, she could share her experiences with teens, and the teens would be able to teach her about their experiences so she can be helpful to others in the future.

There is currently no juvenile probation program in Tuba City, Butler said. There is a jail, but the city has no programs to help teens navigate the criminal justice process. She wants to return to her home to help.

“If we could help them and really understand them without locking them up, that’s where I’d like to stand,” Butler said.

At some point in the future, Butler said that she would like to be able to attend the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU.


Thursday, 28th April 2016

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  • Thursday, 28th April 2016