CCC veteran making her own path


CCC student Nelda Achee has returned to school after retiring from the U.S. Coast Guard after 21 years of service.



FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Coconino Community College student Nelda Achee, mother of three children, grandmother of seven, served in the U.S. Coast Guard for 21 years, retiring as a Chief Petty Officer. She was a machinery tech and worked on airplanes, boats, ships and machines of all sorts.


She was in charge of large projects and was well respected, but back at home on the Navajo Nation, nobody would hire her. They would say to her “You have too much experience,” or “Why don’t you stay home?”


“I got turned down, it seemed, every other week,” Achee said, adding that her last unit worked out of New Orleans during the big oil spill. Her job was to get Coast Guard ships affected by the oil back out on the water. She could fix any problem.


So, Achee decided to use her access to the G.I. Bill to go back to school and study business.


“It’s open to everybody,” Achee said. “There’s nobody to tell me, ‘Hey, you can’t do that.’ That’s how I see it.”


Her ultimate goal is to transfer to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in order to study project management. She’s still figuring out how her education will fit into a business model for the reservation. She wants to bring her expertise back home, particularly to serve veterans.


“Right now, I do a lot of things with the veterans already,” she said, adding that she is the commander at the Shonto Chapter, secretary and treasurer for the Western Navajo Agency and serves on the Advisory Council for the Office of the President and Vice President of the Navajo Nation. She also helped set up the first Veterans Affairs office on the Navajo Nation.


Achee received the Veterans Scholarship through the CCC Foundation. She said she’s not working right now, and with all the time she donates on top of her classes, the scholarship will help cover the costs not covered by her pension and the G.I. Bill.


“This is a tremendous help,” Achee said. “It’s like a sigh of relief.”


The funds will help her pay for books and will help her finish paying for the laptop she uses for school.


“It means a lot to me,” Achee said of being selected for the scholarship. “Not a lot of veterans are recognized. They just float through our lives and we don’t really notice them.”


The scholarship is proof she’s being recognized. For more information about scholarships available through CCC, visit the CCC Foundation at



Wednesday, 27th November 2019

All Dates

  • Wednesday, 27th November 2019