Investing in Our Students is a Good Move

May 15th, 2012 | By | Category: 23-4: Investing in Education, Empowering Tribal Communities
By Rachael Marchbanks

At the annual American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) student conference in Rapid City, SD this spring, we were newly inspired by the dedication and enthusiasm of the more than 1,000 tribal college students participating in the various academic, athletic, and cultural competitions.

One favorite ancillary event at the conference is the American Indian College Fund (The Fund) Student of the Year banquet. The award-winning students candidly spoke about their struggles and successes while pursuing an education, bringing the audience to tears, and inspiring smiles and laughter.

This year, TCJ combined efforts with Jaime Aguilar from The Fund, Tena Haraldson of the Al Neuharth Media Center, Leech Lake Tribal College’s Mark Lewer, and Ron Walters from Sitting Bull College to present a media relations workshop. The event was well-attended and in the process, we learned much from our colleagues and the audience about social media, digital photography, and public relations.

We also learned that tribal college students are tech-savvy. Thanks to all of you who filled out our technology survey at the conference, we learned that 85% of those surveyed have cell phones, 90% have access to high speed internet, 88% are on Facebook, and 50% spend four or more hours online every day for school, work, and entertainment.

Despite the difficulties rural communities nationwide face in accessing high-speed internet and emerging technologies, tribal college students are finding ways to connect. That’s happening with the help of the tribal colleges. As we reported in the last issue, tribal colleges are at the vanguard of incorporating new technologies in the classroom and ensuring communities have access to the internet.

We also want to share news of our latest project: In April, we launched the Tribal College Journal digital edition. While the printed magazine remains as vital and vibrant as ever, subscribers can now explore an online page-by-page version of the magazine that is identical to the printed original. Other features include hyperlinked audio/visual content, searchable editorial archives, and links to advertisers. Please visit our website at and let us know what you think.

The issue you’re holding today is focused on financing an education, building tribal college capacity, and the economic benefits of tribal colleges. In today’s shaky economy, many are unsure where our future lies. Looking for a place to invest your money this year? Look no further than our youth and our students. Hands down they are our best bet for the future.

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