Diné student-athlete accepted to dream school Stanford

Photo courtesy of Nadya Begay Page High Senior Neve Redhair poses for a photo near Horseshoe Bend on Jan. 22, 2020.

PAGE – In early December, Neve Redhair learned that she had been accepted to Stanford University.

Redhair, a Page High senior, is an active, Diné student. She serves as the student body public relations coordinator, and she’s on the basketball and volleyball teams. She has played on the girls’ varsity basketball team since she was a freshman.

When she was a freshman and a sophomore, respectively, she was part of the team that was crowned 3A champions, and last year they took second in state. This year the talented senior was going to be one of its starters and team captains, but the Arizona Interscholastic Association canceled the season last Friday.

Her basketball coach, Ryan Whitehorse, has been working with Redhair on the court and in his classroom since she was a freshman and wasn’t surprised to hear she’s on her way to Stanford.

“As a person, she’s mature for her age,” Whitehorse said. “She has very supportive parents who have instilled in her that education is a top priority. She’s the perfect example of the kind of student all teachers want in their classrooms. She’s hardworking, she has great ethics and she has taken the initiative to find opportunities to benefit her future.”

As one would expect from a Stanford-bound student, Redhair is also an exceptional student. She’s maintaining a 4.0 GPA and is on track to be one of the 2021 class’s valedictorians.

Page High School Principal Anne Martin is happy to witness Redhair’s success.

“Neve is an asset to our Sand Devil Nation,” Martin said. “We are very proud of her accomplishments. Her determination and commitment to her education have earned her many distinctions. I know that Mr. (Corey) Albert sees her as an exceptional writer and Ms. Moore brags about her leadership skills all the time. 

“I enjoy interacting with her. She is a friendly student. Her organizational skills and kind demeanor make her video announcements of the highest quality and entertaining.”

Albert is an English teacher at Page High and an English instructor at Coconino Community College.

Redhair learned that she’d been accepted to Stanford while she was Christmas shopping in Flagstaff with her mother. While walking through Hobby Lobby, Redhair checked her email on her phone and saw she had an email from Stanford.

“I opened it right then and there,” she said.

Redhair, aware this was a pivotal moment in her life, borrowed her mother’s phone and used it to record the moment. Her mother, who was standing with her, learned that her daughter had been accepted to Stanford while they were recording. After that, Redhair began calling her friends and family and telling them the good news.

As soon as Redhair returned home she accepted Stanford’s offer and paid the enrollment fee, which had the gratifying effect of making it official.

Redhair applied to other universities, but Stanford was her first choice. Being accepted by the prestigious institution was almost more than she dared hope for, said Redhair. “In my head, I really doubted myself on the application. It’s still kind of sinking in.”

Redhair plans to major in biology, making her way to pre-med, then medical school.

“I definitely want to do something in the medical field,” she said. “For a long time I’ve wanted to be a nurse practitioner or physician assistant, but lately I’ve been thinking about becoming a surgeon.”

Her acceptance to Stanford has been a big boost to her confidence. “I feel like I can now do anything I put my mind to,” Redhair said.

Redhair’s interest in the medical field came from her mother, Florinda Tracey, who works as a physician assistant at LeChee Clinic. “My mom was the one I looked up to,” she said.

Redhair’s interest in the medical field deepened further two years ago when she spent six weeks at Vanderbilt University where she attended a biomedical research program as a research intern.

“I loved it out there,” Redhair said. “It was my preview into what college will be like. I lived in a dorm, read scientific articles, worked with Ph.D. researchers and attended classes from nine to five.

“I was so interested in what I was learning there and too busy to get very homesick,” she said.

Redhair will attend Vanderbilt’s bio-medical program again this summer.

Redhair visited the Stanford campus when she was in sixth grade and in seventh grade during summer basketball camps. She was part of a club team, called the Lake Powell Gunners, coached by her father, Joshua Redhair. The team did car washes and other fundraisers to earn enough money to travel to the California camp. She was immediately captivated by the learning atmosphere and the beauty of the campus.

“That visit is what first planted the idea of attending college there,” she said. “The event that sticks with me the most happened during Spirit Week when they celebrated what they called `Nerd Nation.’ Nerd Nation is a big thing there. They embrace being nerdy, and that event erased the stigma that being is a nerd is a bad thing.”

As part of the camp, the Lake Powell Gunners worked with members of Stanford’s (women’s) basketball team. “That was the first time I saw that someone can be good at both basketball and academics. That was the first time I’d ever experienced anything like that and it really changed my mindset.”

Redhair hopes the pandemic won’t prevent her from attending Stanford in person this fall.

“I really hope I can be there in person,” she said. “I was on their campus before. They have such a beautiful campus, and I’d love to experience the whole college experience.”

If the pandemic prevents her from attending Stanford in person, Redhair says she’ll make the best of attending virtually.

“I haven’t struggled with online learning, and I’ve developed affective online techniques and I could do that again for my Stanford classes, but I’ll be a lot more excited if I can attend in person.”

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