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Grad sees cultural traditions as path to crime prevention

Cheryl Lynn Blie
December 14, 2013

Cheryl Lynn Blie of the Diné/Navajo tribe has a burning desire to help her community by alleviating some of its modern ills.

“I grew up in Pinon, Arizona, one of the most economically impoverished places on the Navajo Nation,” she says. As a child she was taught the need for discipline and the duty to care for others. “We are instilled with a strong sense to educate yourself so you can give back to the community and your people someday,” she says. 

Yet she saw a rise in violence in Native American communities that began to replicate urban inner city streets. Youths sometimes succumbed to peer pressure, gang life and drugs. “I wanted to understand specifically about prevention and intervention strategies, and what direction we should go using the data and resources obtained thus far.”

With her master’s degree in criminal justice from the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice in the ASU College of Public Programs, she hopes to help chart a new path for her community.

“The Native American people are very culturally and traditionally rich in our way of life, therefore, we have the necessary tools to live in a harmonious way,” she says. Blie is researching intervention methods that emphasize traditional ties and cultural teachings, as well as other crime prevention strategies.  

After receiving her undergraduate degree in political science from Northern Arizona University, she decided to join the criminal justice program at ASU. 

“From the very first day I met the department chair to working with the amazingly supportive faculty, I could not be any happier with the choice I made,” she says. 

As a single parent working full-time throughout the program, she mastered time management skills from the beginning. “Communication with the faculty, staff and advisors has been key,” she says, in resolving schedule conflicts, meeting all deadlines and requirements for school and maintaining a high GPA. 

Encouragement and support has been essential to her success as a first-generation graduate with a master’s degree. Blie credits her Native American grandparents, parents and daughter, as well as friends nationwide.

“I was raised with the values that as a Diné/Navajo woman, I am to educate myself and become aware of the issues that affect my people so I can have a stronger voice when seated at any table, so we can speak with courage, accuracy and conviction.”

“I have also been honored to be part of ASU Alpha Phi Sigma Criminal Justice Honors Society. This program has opened many doors for me. Along with the motivation to maintain a high GPA, I have been able to meet with possible employers and seek future opportunities, and provide volunteer service here in the Phoenix area and on the Navajo Nation.”

After graduation, she plans to continue work with Native American communities, possibly as a federal agent or criminal investigator. 

“I am very passionate about the research I have devoted myself to, primarily because it affects my people and the future of my people.”