Sixteen students from Tribal communities around Nevada came to the University from Aug. 7-11 to live on campus, experience life as a Wolf Pack student and dream about future opportunities and potential paths they might choose to pursue after high school. This program is called Native Students LEAD and was led by the Office of Indigenous Relations, with assistance for the program provided in part from First Nations Development Institute, the Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship, the College of Business’s University Center for Economic Development and the College of Business’s Nevada Leadership Program.
An important component to the program is the cultural resources and experiences available to students on campus. A few of the activities that students enjoyed the most, including a Round Dance on the historic quad, puppet shows in the Paiute Language and storytelling workshops, were made possible with help from the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony (RSIC) Cultural Resource Program.
This first year pilot program included students from Walker River, Yerington, Pyramid Lake, Fallon, Washoe, and Reno Sparks Indian Colony Tribal communities. The success of this year has been encouraging; organizers plan to hold this program again next year.
Many people from around campus made this program possible. Students stayed on campus in the residence halls and each of the five days of the program were filled with activities. “I think we wore the students out because we were going 100 miles per hour!” Director of Indigenous Relations at the University Daphne Emm Hooper said.
Students got to experience interactive lectures from various professors and check out campus resources like the @Reality virtual reality station in the @One, where they created 3D models using iPads. They learned about financial literacy, business, cultural resources and archology, journalism, robotics and STEM fields. In addition to learning about the academics on campus, students experienced social activities including a local festival, the Planetarium, as well as playing hoops at the Fitness Center and 9-Square on the quad.
“We started [the program] out with a creation story of a local Tribe. As the students learned things throughout the week, it all tied into a bigger picture and bigger story,” Hooper said. “At the end of the week students told their own stories. That storytelling theme became a central focus and continued throughout the week. Michon Eben, a Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow and member of the Reno Sparks Indian Colony, helped sponsor this program through her fellowship. She is a great storyteller, so the students liked to listen to her stories about our Ancestors and opportunities for the future.”
University President Brian Sandoval, who is another great storyteller, met with the participating students and told the story of his childhood growing up in Nevada, where he came from and his journey in his professional life.
At the conclusion of the week, each student presented their own stories, diving into where they came from and what their goals are for the future. They also spoke about how this program in particular can help them learn, empower, achieve and dream (LEAD).
“Everyone can reach and touch different people,” Hooper said. “The more we can do to attract students to the University and help them feel connected, the more likely they are to succeed. We are honored to have the opportunity to provide them with support systems and people they can relate to and hopefully be successful in higher education or whatever path they choose.”
Below you can scroll through a photo gallery with some highlights from the week.