ASU Online student Asia Soleil Yazzie slays in beauty and in balance.
As the founder of Slay in Beauty, a modern take on the Diné (Navajo) prayer “Walk in Beauty,” Asia (aka Lady Yazzie) is on a mission to spread empowerment, inspiration and hope for those living in an indigenized world.
As a youth program intern for Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment (COPE), a partnership with Navajo Nation that aims to eliminate health disparities and improve the well-being of American Indians and Alaska Natives, Asia works to help motivate and inspire youth across the Navajo reservation near Gallup, New Mexico.
And as an ASU Online student working toward her second bachelor’s degree in health education and health promotion, Asia hopes to be able to broaden the scope of information she can share with her community. She juggles it all with grace and discipline, starting most of her days at 6 a.m. and filling each one with a mix of family, work, school and personal time. Often, her classwork is done toward the end of her busy day.
“A lot of it has to do with how much you want to put in the work,” Asia says of what motivates her to pursue her education amidst so many other important responsibilities. “The classes -- I am currently taking Violence Prevention and Health Behavior Theory -- are ones I want to take because I want to learn more about prevention, the theories behind the research and how programs are being implemented into different organizations and community settings. I enjoy putting in the time on my own schedule.”
Asia previously graduated with a degree in Native American and Indigenous studies in 2012. She is particularly passionate about suicide prevention with youth and domestic and sexual violence prevention. For Asia, the passion for prevention is deeply personal, having struggled with depression since she was 16 years old.
“I was first medically diagnosed when I was 18 and was diagnosed again when I was 25,” Asia says. “I’ve gathered as much information on the topic as possible and prevention became my focus throughout the rest of my college career.”
While researching, Asia also learned more about the prevalence of domestic and sexual violence among Native American and Alaska Native women. An issue of personal importance, her discoveries helped her find her voice to bring awareness to victims among her peer group.
"People don't realize they could be sitting next to a victim of domestic and sexual violence in their college classroom," Asia says. “During my research, I tried to discover the correlation between these women and their rates of suicide that no one really talks about. At that time, I was a little disappointed because there wasn't much literature to help me put the two together. However, people would come to me for more information about those topics, and that’s how I got started in my current role.”
Recently, Asia traveled with COPE to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in Mission, South Dakota, where she worked with youth and took part in a writing workshop. Once her internship ends, she hopes to continue in a similarly interactive role with the younger members of her community. She works as an Indigenous dancer, model, writer and advocate for improving the well-being of Indigenous communities through abuse prevention, youth education and professional development -- yet she has always felt there was something missing from her story.
“I’ve had opportunities to talk about specific topics where I either felt I wasn’t qualified enough or didn’t feel comfortable enough to speak about them,” Asia explains. “It was the lack of credentials that made me decide to go back to school, and when I found this degree with ASU Online, I knew it was how I was going to further give back to my community.”
Her ultimate goal is to open a warehouse where she can combine all of her interests into a place where artists of every type can gather to share their talents, creations and personal stories with youth. To get there, Asia knows she has to put in the work, one day at a time.
“This is only the beginning chapter of the direction I’m heading in,” she says. “After finishing my internship and earning my degree, I believe I will excel further into any youth organization or programming that comes my way.”
Follow Asia’s journey on Instagram: @ladyyazzie and @slay_in_beauty_official. Learn more about the ASU Online bachelor’s degree in health education and health promotion.