|UMD students are matched up with local high school students for College for a Day. In this photo, students and staff enjoy the International Taste of UMD.|
One of UMD’s fundamental goals is to create a diverse and inclusive campus. Each year, staff, faculty, students, and alumni from various departments and programs reach out and connect with bright motivated minority and American Indian students from around the state and the region to introduce them to the campus. These students come from high schools, community colleges and even after-school programs. Members of the UMD community work to forge long-lasting relationships with various ethnic communities and American Indian tribes.
UMD’s Office of Cultural Diversity has partnered with a number of high schools in the Twin Cities, arranging for young students to tour the campus and meet with UMD faculty, staff, and students. Since 1999, the Office has worked with the St. Paul public school system’s Multicultural Excellence Program. UMD pays for a bus and provides lunch. In addition to a tour, a panel presentation is held in which current UMD students of color talk about their experiences and answer questions from the young visitors. “It’s been very successful,” said Office of Cultural Diversity Director Susana Pelayo-Woodward. “This year, we’ve admitted 20 students from the Multicultural Excellence Program.”
In the College for a Day Program, a local high school student is matched with a current UMD student. The high school student spends a day at UMD and attends classes with the undergraduate. Often times, the Office of Cultural Diversity tries to schedule these visits when a special multicultural event will be held such as the International Taste of UMD or the Soul Food Dinner.
In addition to high schools and community colleges, the Office works with many area youth programs. Recently, members of the Duluth YWCA after-school program GirlPower! visited UMD. “It’s great for them to experience being on campus,” said Pelayo-Woodward. Twenty girls, ranging in age from 8-15, toured the campus. They also had lunch with UMD students, some of whom were young women of color, as well as representatives from some of the student organizations housed in the Multicultural Center including Latino Chicano Student Programs, African American Student Programs, and Asian Pacific American Student Programs. Afterwards, the girls completed an activity at the Tweed Museum of Art and saw a show at the Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium.
American Indian Youth: Leadership and Learning
American Indian Learning Resource Center (AILRC) staff regularly attends American Indian career fairs throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. In addition, the AILRC works with other American Indian related programs to bring American Indian students on campus for bridge programs. This summer, the Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Language Revitalization is hosting the third annual Minnesota Indigenous Youth Freedom Project Camp. The camp is supported by UMD, the Blandin Foundation, General Mills, Otto Bremer Foundation, Northland Foundation, and the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation. “The youth are invited from all eleven Minnesota reservations,” said Rick J. Smith, director of the AILRC. Camp attendees are between the ages of 13-17, and the program alternates between a boy’s camp one week and a girl’s camp the next week for four weeks.
“The curriculum is based on Dakota and Ojibwe leadership and encompasses the traditional Seven Teachings and Seven Laws of the Dakota and Ojibwe people,” Smith said. These teachings are (in Ojibwe): Niibwaakaawin – Wisdom, Zaagi’idiwin – Love, Manaaji’idiwin – Respect, Zoongide’ewin – Courage, Gwayakwaadiziwin – Honesty, Dabasenindizowin – Humility, and Debwewin – Truth. It incorporates the Circle of Courage curriculum from Dr. Martin Brokenleg. Most of the Leadership Camp instructors have completed the Blandin Reservation Community Leadership Program. Instructors include tribal members who are also UMD students, alumni, staff, and faculty. Upon completion of the camp, youth are encouraged to “contribute to the health of their own communities, by becoming positive leaders and doing positive things,” Smith noted.
UMD’s Center for American Indian and Minority Health Center, housed in the University of Minnesota Medical School on the Duluth campus, offers enrichment programs designed to promote an interest in American Indian health. The summer program, Stepping Stones to Health Careers, allows American Indian youth, going into grades 11 or 12, to learn more about careers in the health field by offering hands-on experiences. Mentors and teachers guide youth in the areas of academic enrichment, service and leadership, mentorship, research, and community/cultural integration.
The Best Recruits
Smith believes that the work that the AILRC, the Office of Culture Diversity, UMD Admissions, and others do is extremely valuable in recruiting American Indian and minority students to UMD. However, ultimately he believes that, “the best recruits are our students. If they are satisfied, they will tell their family and friends.” Pelayo-Woodward would agree adding, “Alumni are also valuable ambassadors for recruiting students to UMD.”
|Seventeen young men took part in the first of four week-long Minnesota Indigenous Youth Freedom Project Camps in 2012. An evening activity included a cruise on the Vista Fleet.|
Written by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann, June 2012