Whitman recently hosted College Horizons, a five-day college preparatory workshop for Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian high school students from June 27 to July 1. The program is designed to give them a head-start on the complex college admissions process, including such steps as SAT’s, applications and financial aid.
The campus welcomed about 75 students representing 33 tribal nations and 14 states along with 35 college admission representatives, 10 high school counselors and several other volunteers. Students traveled from as far away as Alaska, Nevada, Oklahoma and Texas and came from as near as Washington and Oregon states. Tribes represented include Navajo, Spokane, Native Hawaiian, Comanche and Blackfoot.
During the week students worked to complete a common college application, personal statements, a resume, and the FAFSA, a financial aid form. In addition, students attended workshops on the SAT/ACT, learned how to conduct their college search and discussed issues that they may face as Native American students in college.
“It was an opportunity for our staff to connect with students and learn about their cultural background and tribal affiliations,” says Kevin Dyerly, director of admission and faculty representative for Whitman during the program. “It is mutually beneficial for the college to have talented students spend time on campus. We can showcase our campus community to others who go back to their communities and talk about the quality of education here at Whitman.”
This is the third time Whitman has hosted the program. “The outcome is for these students to be prepared not only to go through the college search process but to be successful college graduates and to help build their nations/communities,” says Tony Cabasco, dean of admission and financial aid.
Whitman’s job as host was to provide housing and meals, meeting rooms, access to computer labs and transportation to and from the airport. Many Whitman faculty attended a BBQ with the group on Ankeny field for a meet and greet.
“Students were able establish friendships with other Native peers from various backgrounds that will no doubt serve them well as they navigate the college admission process and their college years. While the college application process can be difficult, the College Horizons graduates now have many tools and resources available to them to make it smoother,” says Dyerly.
Whitman is an ideal Horizons host, because the campus culture is about being welcoming and supporting students through a rigorous academic program. Participants saw that first-hand, and meeting them gives us an opportunity to see what future students might expect from their college experience, according to Cabasco.
The college plans to host the program again within the next five years.
For more information about College Horizons, please visit www.collegehorizons.org.
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