Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D-New Mexico) is serving his first term in the U.S. Senate. Photo: SenatorLujan
Navajo student invited to President Biden’s address to Congress
Tuesday, April 27, 2021

When President Joe Biden delivers his first address to Congress, a young citizen of the Navajo Nation will be there as a special guest.

Virtually, that is. Heleen Archuleta, a 16-year-old student from New Mexico, is attending the speech on Wednesday as the invited guest of Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-New Mexico).

“Heleen is an example of the potential of New Mexico’s youth. She’s a dedicated student with dreams of becoming a nurse technician, and I have no doubt that she’ll become a role model for other students in her community,” Luján said on Tuesday.

Heleen hails from Counselor, one of the many communities on the Navajo Nation. She attends Cuba High School in New Mexico, where she has been distance learning since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic more than a year ago.

Earlier this month, Heleen participated in a virtual news conference hosted by Luján. Due to inadequate infrastructure on the reservation, she has struggled to keep learning because she lacks electricity and reliable internet, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported on April 9.

According to Luján, the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan stands to benefit students like Heleen. He said the American Rescue Plan Act, which became law on March 11 through the passage of H.R.1319 in the 117th Congress, will provide $979 million to schools in New Mexico to address learning loss, provide education technology, implement public health measures and meet other critical needs.

“With the historic investments made by the American Rescue Plan, schools across New Mexico will be able to better serve students like Heleen and help them achieve their dreams,” said Luján, who is a new member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

“New Mexico’s students deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential, regardless of where they live, and I’m committed to working in the Senate to ensure that we provide them with the tools they need to succeed,” he said.

Biden’s address to a joint session of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate at 9pm Eastern on April 28. The speech takes place ahead of his 100th day in office as the 46th president of the United States.