“Waffling about College” I.D.E.A. proposal provides pathways for Zuni Students
This past summer a group of Zuni High School students experienced new insights through a special college introductory program. “Waffling About College” was one of eight projects funded through the I.D.E.A. grant program. These small grant awards are made in support of efforts to increase inclusion, diversity, equity, and access (I.D.E.A. Grants). They are intended to promote projects that yield a campus culture resulting in the successful recruitment and retention of an increasingly diverse academic workforce and student body on the NMSU Las Cruces campus.
Co-Principal Investigators Wendy Hamilton and Michael Patrick led a successful recruiting endeavor partnering with the Zuni Pueblo, our American Indian Program, NMSU Grants campus, the Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, University Admissions, and the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. Working together they gave this group of Zuni High School students a great “taste” of college. The students indicated that before participating in this orientation program, they had little or no understanding of why they should attend NMSU. As a result of the project, these students learned firsthand the benefits of not only attending college, but the benefits of attending an NMSU campus.
Numerous NMSU faculty and staff coordinated four-and-a-half days of college orientation activities. The project team designed a custom schedule of visits to the Grants and Las Cruces campuses, targeting the specific questions and interests of the students. Activities included actually applying for college; assessing career interests; hands on experiential career exploration; dorm and campus life experiences; and opportunities to interact with current students.
These Zuni students arrived back home with contact information from several NMSU faculty and staff members; personal invitations to stay connected by phone, email, and/or Facebook; in-depth information on degree programs; knowledge of ROTC, athletic, intramural, and student programs; scholarship sources; and Native American support networks. Pre-post project evaluations determined that students were now not only excited about attending NMSU, but planned to encourage siblings, cousins, and sports team members to consider the same opportunity, thus potentially tripling NMSU’s derived exposure from this one trip.
Coordinating campus group visits with Zuni High School personnel succeeded in increasing NMSU’s access for historically underserved Zuni Pueblo students. Tribal elders, parents, teachers, and even a Pueblo business were involved in establishing trip protocol, approving the itinerary, and making sure all tribal assurances were met. Evaluation data clearly delineated that this Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (I.D.E.A.) project was successful in championing targeted Zuni students to attend New Mexico State University. The Zuni Pueblo high school seniors were indeed ‘waffling’ about college before participating in this project.
Student quotes included:
▪“I learned so much from this trip about college, and how it will help me in the future.”
▪“I learned the most about financial aid and that I need to apply for every scholarship I can.”
▪“If not for this trip, I wouldn’t have known much about college life and what to be prepared for.”
▪“I was very scared about going to college before this trip. Now I am excited.”
▪“Are all universities as helpful as NMSU?”
▪“This trip gave me a clear choice about where I want to go to college.”
▪“I’d still be looking at out-of-state schools if I hadn’t taken this trip.”
▪“I now know who I can call to help me as I get ready to attend NMSU next year.”
▪“Everyone we met was a big help.”
▪“This coming year I plan to start improving my grades, ACT scores, and my attitude.”
▪“I need to take my math classes seriously, apply myself much more, and manage my time.”
▪“This trip made me make a great early decision in my life.”
▪“I was afraid of living away from my family. Now I want to live in the dorms.”
▪“I had no idea there was a Native American program to help us when we start college.”
▪“I will be sharing what I learned on this trip with my family.”