Program Assists Graduate Students with Writing

Nov 15th, 2008 | By | Category: 20-2: Native Green, Tribal College News

Ferlin Clark (Diné), president of Diné College (Tsaile, AZ), was one of six scholars to participate in the 2008 Student to Academic Professoriate for American Indians (SAPAI) Writing Retreat.

SAPAI is a project funded by the National Science Foundation to increase the rates of degree completion for American Indian graduate students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). It also aims to increase the representation of American Indian and Alaska Native scholars in STEM faculties at tribal colleges and universities (TCUs).

The project involves three steps: 1) a six-week writing retreat to enhance degree completion, 2) a faculty preparation training, and 3) a one-year apprenticeship for SAPAI scholars at a TCU. The 2008 retreat was in the Lubrecht Experimental Forest located 30 miles northeast of Missoula, Montana.

SAPAI is currently looking for both graduate student and TCU participants. American Indian and Alaskan Native graduate students who have completed all degree requirements with the exception of their thesis or dissertation, Alfred P. Sloan American Indian Graduate Program (AIGP) Students, and STEM graduate students are welcomed into the program.

The writing retreat assisted six graduate scholars who were working on their thesis or dissertation. “I recognized this summer, more than ever, the importance of giving ourselves permission to be Indigenous thinkers and writers. After working with remarkable Indigenous scholars this summer, I feel inspired to begin my dissertation project about Diné rhetoric(s),” said Aretha Matt who served as the writing assistant for the retreat and who is also a graduate student at the University of Arizona (UA). Ferlin Clark is currently a Ph.D. candidate at UA and is working on his dissertation, which chronicles the challenges, experiences, and achievements of Diné College.

For more information on the SAPAI project, visit

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