BHP Billiton Grant Supports College Success for Native American Students

San Juan Colleges Native American Center was awarded a $20,000 grant from BHP Billiton to enhance and support Native American students college success.

The grant funding will help identify and develop strategies that support Native American student academic progress, degree completion and transfer success. It will focus on four priorities including a Freshman Mentorship Program, a Parent Program, a Student Emergency Fund, and Native American Culture and Values.

Through the Freshman Mentorship program, a pilot group of 100 high school graduates who are just entering college will meet with a Native American Program advisor to develop a student success plan that will include strategies to increase students retention and success, as well as continuing their education at a four-year institution. They also will participate in a three-day orientation, internships and service learning opportunities, as well as workshops on topics such as attendance and grades, and scholarship requirements.

The Parent Program will include Parent College, as part of orientation, and a monthly workshop to provide parents with information about how they can best prepare their student for college and help encourage their success.

The Student Emergency Fund will provide monetary support to lessen the gaps that may be considered emergencies for students coupled with guidance in times of crises and referrals to social agencies. The fund, which is limited to $400 per student, will offer basic financial assistance to help students out in situations that could potentially cause them to drop out of college.

The Native American Culture and Values priority will fund activities and provide opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds to interact in and learn about each others culture through a variety of multicultural events and activities such as Native American Week, the San Juan College Pow Wow and the Native American Graduation Reception.

The San Juan College team will include Michele Peterson, director of the Native American Center; Elfreda Yazzie, Native American Program advisor; and Cori Mapp, Native American Center office manager.