Youth Summit Encourages Native Students’ Dreams

Feb 15th, 2010 | By | Category: 21-3: Tribal College Faculty, Spring 2010, Tribal College News

The Expanding the Circle program at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA, Santa Fe, NM) offered three programs last summer for Native American high school students in the Southwest to encourage them to explore career options and attend college.

The IAIA Native Youth Summit provided Native American high school students with a glimpse of their career futures. Workshops provided a taste of the “real world,” as well as guidance on the educational paths students should take to obtain degrees and certifications to meet their professional goals.

Careers explored at the three-day workshop included graphic design, filmmaking, journalism, radio, law, forensic science, game design, screenplay writing, song writing, photography, and concert production. The keynote speaker was Royale Dá (San Ildefonso Pueblo), news anchor for KOAT Channel 7 in Albuquerque, NM. About 100 students in grades 9-12 participated from all over New Mexico and parts of Arizona, according to Alissa Chavez (San Felipe Pueblo/ Navajo/Hopi-Tewa).

The IAIA Expanding the Circle program also sponsored College Road Trip 2009, a week-long journey to tour colleges and universities in New Mexico and Colorado, including IAIA, New Mexico Highlands University, the University of Denver, Colorado State University, the University of Colorado, and Fort Lewis College.

Native American youth from New Mexico’s 22 tribes and pueblos were recruited to visit college campuses in the state, learn about each college’s admission procedures, and see the academic programs offered at each college. About 20 students and the same number of parents/guardians participated.

Seventeen high school students from New Mexico and Arizona were selected to participate in the third program, a three-week session designed for summer enrichment. They explored independence, learned self-advocacy, and acquired life skills for college, according to an account by Layli Long Soldier. Adapted from a curriculum developed for Native students by the University of Minnesota for students in transition to college, the lessons covered finances, developing a support system, tribal and family history, and note taking.

Students also were taught how to make schedules that take family and tribal ceremonies and celebrations into consideration.

To learn more, call Ben Calabaza at (505) 424-5732 or Alissa Chavez at (505) 424-2341 or visit

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