Pueblo of Jemez –Photo Voice Showcase

Presented by Alyssa Yeppa and Stacie Barney

Introducing Lana Toya

Our Parent Photo Voice team had the great honor of having Walatowa Headstart Program Manager, Lana Toya, enlighten us with their Photo Voice project and journey.  Lana shared information on the project’s foundation, development, motivation and their efforts to transform a head start to a language immersion program in Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico.  Lana Toya emphasized to our parents that passion of retaining cultural identity, language, and motivation in our community is only the beginning of great universal family changes that can happen. We were also happy to have the company of Santa Clara Photo Voice Head Start Director and representative at our location.

Lana shared her knowledge on all aspects of leading a Photo Voice project including how to maintain participation.  Through her commitment, she has been able to share with tribal leaders of the Pueblo of Jemez the hopes and dreams of parents.  Ms. Toya shared how the center shared the Photo Voice projects during a community showcase and an ongoing display.  This provided some great ideas for SIPI’s parent team.

Lana shared information regarding her experiences with parent participation in the Photo Voice project.   Walatowa’s Photo Voice attracted a high parental involvement because it captivated parents’ interests of their willingness to share their dynamics of family, culture, traditions, and values. Lana shared with the group the amount of planning and commitment required of parents in the project.  She also shared her knowledge of how to facilitate a Photovoice project.

Walatowa’s Photo Voice project initiated an ongoing study of how to transform early childhood education in Jemez Pueblo.  Lana shared her experience of traveling to other places and other schools to investigate how those schools transformed into a language immersion program. This willingness to change their program derived from the parents sharing their interests through the Photo Voice reflections. Lana and her Head Start staff from the Pueblo of Jemez were able to travel to Hawaii and learn how those schools evolved into a preservation of language, curriculum and even, written language books.  It made her realize the infinite potential there is to evolving her Head Start program into a language preservation center.

Overall, this Parent Photo Voice event was a great turnout for visions and limitless ambitions to be developed amongst SIPI’s parent participants.  Parents were able to address great questions to Lana. The perspectives parents had for Lana were intriguing and engaging, this could have carried on, but as time permitted we ended the night with a scrumptious dinner.

Wakanyeja Sacred Little Ones & K’é Family Engagement Initiative Presents: “SIPI YDI Community Planting Event”

Blog By: Marissa Analla & Cassie Harden

The Wakanyeja Sacred Little Ones and K’é Family Engagement Initiatives presents Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute “YDI Community Planting Event” held on Tuesday April 28th, 2015 from 4:30-6:00pm. This event took place just west of the SIPI/YDI center in the YDI heritage garden. This event attracted a variety of participants including; teachers from the center, children, families, ECE staff members, and interns. As the YDI parents and children were arriving, they were welcomed and signed in by, student intern, Cassie Harden. The event day weather was beautiful and calm, with a light breeze flowing around us. The sun shined high above making this a perfect day to plant some seeds. The event kicked off at 4:30pm with the children, families, and participants gathering just outside of the heritage garden. YDI parent Donovan Barney came forth with his daughter to speak about the planting event and to say a prayer for the families and garden.

After Donovan’s prayer and blessing of the garden, a SIPI facility staff member gathered the participants near the garden and spoke about the seeds that were going to be planted that day such as the chili, melon, and corn seeds. The chili and melon seeds were donated by staff, and the corn seeds were dried up and kept from last year’s garden within the care of the SIPI 4 preschool classroom. He spoke about the planting of the seeds, in particular the location and proximity of plants to one another. The corn seeds will be in the east rows, the melon seeds in the middle rows, and the chili seeds planted in the west rows. The children from infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and their older siblings began to enter the heritage garden one by one. Families and participants were able to witness the children plant the seeds on this beautiful day. The children planted seeds on their own and with some assistance from family and staff. The first seeds to be planted were the corn seeds, then the melon, and the chili seeds were planted using plastic gloves and a spoon to protect the children’s hands.

SIPI staff assisted each child with a hands-on learning experience of placing the seeds in the child’s hands and having them place them in a small hole within the ground. Then, the child was able move the dirt gently over the seeds, and even some children gently patted the dirt down. One by one each child was able to take turns in planting all of the seeds within the heritage garden. The infants had the assistance of their parent’s to plant the seeds. Through this experience children were able to make the connections of how to plant seeds, how a garden is started, and how food is grown and produced to nourish our bodies. This gave the YDI families the opportunity to be engaged with their children by participating in this event.

After the children planted all of the corn, melon, and chili seeds they were directed with their families to the SIPI Science and Technology Atrium where dinner was served. Dinner was provided by Mexican food from Twisters, and paid for by the Wakanyeja Sacred Little Ones program funding. After the families headed toward the SIPI S&T Atrium, a few parents and teachers stayed behind to begin watering the YDI heritage garden. Staff explained to the parents and teachers about how much water was needed for the heritage garden and the timeframe of days to water the garden throughout the upcoming weeks. This year we are all hoping for a successful garden filled with red chili, melons, and corn. The vegetables and fruits produced from this garden will then be harvested later within the year and given out to the YDI families.

This planting event was another successful learning opportunity for all participants who attended. This gave the young children the enjoyment of planting, and understanding of how agriculture is an important component to Native people. Together we witnessed the children’s motivation and willingness to be part of the planting event. A statement from a family participant was, “I enjoyed myself. The prayer and seeing the kids and the planting made me feel hope, faith and happiness. Knowing our creator wants us to be happy.”  This planting event has truly impacted the lives of Native children and families within our SIPI and YDI communities. Thank You Wakanyeja Sacred Little Ones and Ké Family Engagement Initiatives for making this event possible for Native children, families, and community.

College4Kids Program Features Pigs, Pancakes and Maple

If you give a pig a pancake — oh, the adventure you will have!  Maple sugaring was the theme for this Saturday’s College 4 Kids session. Children and their families attending the College of Menominee Nation’s College 4 Kids on March 21 enjoyed the adventures in Laura Numeroff’s book titled If You Give a Pig a Pancake.  The adventures included taking a bath, dancing, building a tree house, and sending pictures to friends.  Ms. Numeroff’s book was read to the children while they enjoyed hot pancakes and real maple syrup.  The CMN Saturday activities are designed to engage parents in learning with their children.  The pancake activity was able to address the physical, cognitive, language and social/emotional developmental domains of the children during the snack time. For the physical domain the children were able to pour maple syrup and cut their pancake into bite size pieces. During the snack activity the children were able to hear the alliterative P sounds in pig and pancake and recall the story sequence when the book was re-read.  Reading the book and asking children to predict and then recall the story was done to address the children’s cognitive and language domains. Socially/emotionally the children were able to participate in the snack by taking turns and following directions to receive their pancake and sit together and enjoy.

There are two other stations for the parents and children to participate in; the Literacy Corner and the Creativity Room. Each activity is aligned with a book representing the week’s theme. In the Literacy Corner every week a version of the book There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a ___is read. This week the book was There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly.  Reading the same book has been very successful because there is a built in familiarity with the book only what is swallowed changes each session. This is set up as a puppet stage and children are able to interact with the Old Lady story by depositing the items she swallowed through her mouth and they land in her stomach.  In the Creativity Room , a book about maple sugaring was read. Then maple leaves were designed, cut out and attached to a picture frames along with sequins, glitter and other cutouts per each child’s design. Pictures of each child were taken and by the end of the session were inserted into the picture frame and given to the child’s parent.  In addition children were able to cut maple leaves out of play dough. At another activity station, the children were able to paint their very own maple tree after reading about maple sugaring.  During these two activity sessions parents work alongside their child to engage and compete in the fun!

Emeritus Trustee Gail Bruce Honored by Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Multicultural Audience Development Initiative

American Indian College Fund emeritus trustee Gail Bruce was honored at a special reception on March 9 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Multicultural Audience Development Initiative (MADI), as part of Women’s History Month. Gail was one of the original founders of the American Indian College Fund and is an entrepreneur, artist, and American Indian activist, and was honored for her work at the Met as well as her work in Native higher education.

Gail says she was fascinated with American Indian issues ever since she was a child. She remembers her family moving from Chicago to the West Coast when she was five years old, and getting off the train in Albuquerque. She says she wandered away from her family to follow a group of Indians, her curiosity piqued by their colorful clothing and jewelry. That interest in Native cultures has spanned an entire lifetime.

As a young woman in California, Gail befriended a Native elder from the Chumash nation who she came to call “Grandfather” and his good friend Rolling Thunder. From Grandfather Gail says she learned about the many social and economic problems facing American Indians. “I talked with them about what I could do to help. Both men said, ‘Education, that’s what our people need. We have to educate our people’.”

Grandpa’s message stuck with Gail, and years later in Florida on a movie shoot with her husband she met the actress Anne Sward Hansen. A few years later Anne moved to New York City and reconnected with Gail. It was the early 1980s and the oil crisis was in full swing. The high cost of heating oil combined with a cold, bitter winter hit American Indians on the Great Plains the hardest. Many elders and children were dying from the cold, unable to afford to heat their homes. Anne, an actress on the CBS soap opera “As the World Turns” mobilized her connections at the studio, and secured donations of clothes, blankets, and winter coats, which were delivered to the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations in South Dakota.

Anne was later invited to the reservations to be honored for her work and there she saw how the schools were the centers of the communities. Anne was hooked. A few years later, during the Reagan era, cuts across the education sector were set to impact American Indians the most. The American Indian Higher Education Consortium created the American Indian College Fund (the College Fund) to solicit donations from the private sector to supplant dollars that would be lost through federal funding. Anne was named the first chairman of the board of the American Indian College Fund, and she recruited Gail to help with a book drive. “Who knew that over 25 years later I would still be doing this,” Gail said. “From that minute on, I was committed.”

Gail is a rare woman who has melded her passions—her love of the arts and American Indian issues. She has served as an adviser at: the National Museum of the American Indian in New York, the Association on American Indian Affairs and Wings of America promoting active lifestyles and healthy living. She conceived of and built 29 cultural learning centers at the tribal colleges in 12 states, which kicked off the College Fund’s Sii Ha Sin, capital campaign, and founded UNRESERVED American Indian Fashion and Art Alliance, creating internships for native youth. In addition, she worked with the Met’s MADI committee to create internships for Native American students in the museum studies field at the Met. The internship opportunity gives Native students the opportunity to work at one of the largest and best museums in the world alongside a mentor to develop their professional skills, while also giving them the chance to curate artwork from their own cultures. “It has always bothered me that Native arts have been overseen predominately by white curators and for the most part they don’t know the spiritually involved in looking after these collections,” Gail said. She also helped the students adjust to life in a big city environment, providing them with a place to live at her studio and serving as a base for them while they were in New York. After her studio became a 24/7 business, she worked tirelessly to find them other affordable housing that was homier during their internship. Gail speaks glowingly of the students that have enriched her life over the years and their many accomplishments.

One recent intern who benefitted from the Gail’s work to get the Met’s internship program off the ground is Bradley Pecore, a museum studies alumnus from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Bradley, a member of the Menominee/Mohican tribe of Wisconsin, grew up on the Stockbridge-Munsee reservation, where he developed an interest in sculpture and painting as a young boy. He is currently finishing his Ph.D. at Cornell University while he works at the National Museum of the American Indian.

Gail realized a long-time dream when she was at the MET to witness their public opening of “The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky” exhibition this month as well. She was asked to curate the merchandising kiosk at the exit of the exhibition. “For the first time the MET is showing reservation-based artists that would normally never have a chance to show their work in New York City, much less at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  This show, at one of the major museums in the world, is an important acknowledgment and validation of Native American art and I am so pleased.”

The College Fund could not be prouder of Gail and offers its hearty congratulations on a well-deserved honor.

Tribal College Students Embracing ECE Initiatives at NWIC

Things are moving fast at the Northwest Indian College and the Lummi community.  For the last three and a half years of collaboration and planning on behalf of the Wakanyeja “Sacred Little Ones” Early Childhood Education Initiative by the American Indian College Fund, the leadership and partnerships have created many exciting new opportunities for families and children in the Lummi community.  The Wakanyeja ECE initiative, , has supported the incubation of these projects and collaborations, and allowed us to build a foundation that will support the continuation of these amazing partnerships.

The early learning center at Northwest Indian College has made great strides in our overall quality and has enrolled in the Washington State Department of Early Learning’s Early Achievers program.  Early Achievers is a quality rating and improvement system for state licensed child care programs that is providing support, resources, and guidance for early learning center management and staff as we work to provide an environment where young children and families will thrive.  The support we receive from the Wakanyeja ECE initiative and the Ké’ Early Childhood Education Initiative allows us to meet these quality goals.

Furthermore, the Wakanyeja ECE initiative is helping to enrich the curricula used at all of our partner early learning programs.  Every Professional Learning Community participant has received an Identity Safety Literacy Kit and a classroom enhancement stipend, to ensure that teachers are using instructional materials that foster place-based education and create culturally responsive learning environments.

The Wakanyeja ECE initiative and Ké’ ECE leadership teams have also created new connections between the numerous early learning and family support programs in the Lummi community.  The Ey’ Snat Family Fun events were previously limited to families with children enrolled in the Lummi Head Start and Early Head Start programs.  The Ké’ ECE team has worked to bridge the gaps between families served by these programs and the NWIC Early Learning Center, Lummi Childcare and the Teen Parent Child Development Center.  Recent events have included a traditional Lummi salmon BBQ, Coast Salish art lessons, drum making, and dancing.  By welcoming families from the numerous early learning programs, and pairing health and wellness information and resources with Lummi cultural activities, the participation in these events has skyrocketed.  We look forward to many more of these wonderful family centered events as we continue to strengthen the web of early childhood and family support programs.

Alicia Allard is the Early Learning Center Director at Northwest Indian College



NWIC Brings Family Engagement to Lummi Community

Our first Family Engagement activity was an Ey’ Snat Family Fun Night in September held in conjunction with Sacred Little Ones partner site Lummi Head Start. We wanted families to get to experience a salmon barbeque with salmon cooked in the traditional way.

Lummi fisher, Dana Wilson, had the participants skewer chunks of salmon on long ironwood sticks then he propped the sticks near the fire to cook.  The barbeque took place on a warm fall evening, on the beach, where children enjoyed playing near the water, elders visited, families ate, and Head Start and Northwest Indian College (NWIC) staff enjoyed the great turn-out.

The October Ey’ Snat was an Art Event! We began with a meal at the head start then Bill Jefferson, Lummi artist, shared some of his knowledge about traditional Coast Salish art forms. Families and young children got to do painting with those art forms, and take their artwork home. They were so pleased.

November’s event was a family play evening, where parents and family members brought their young ones to share a meal and play and play and play. Additional adults came without their children to be members of the “Play Team” who could add playfulness and extra resource to this family time. When half the parents went to the building next door for a support group, the Play Team and other half of the parents stayed out to play. The second half of parents also got their support group as well. There was much activity and while there were no physical take-homes, there were smiles and joy and a sense of peace as families departed. Parents and children connecting through play made children’s eyes shine. Participating in the brief but safe parents’ support group brought out the smiles on family members’ relaxed faces as well.

The December Ey’ Snat Family Fun Night in conjunction with our partner, Lummi Head Start, was a wonderful success, though in unexpected ways. That is, we did not expect the gathering to draw 125 people, as we had planned for 60… Our invitation “went viral,” and we were glad it did!  We loved having so many families of young children there, and we received lots of support from the Silver Reef Hotel Casino & Spa to accommodate everyone.  The catering department opened a second banquet room, added tables to the area between the two rooms, and served delicious food. The Silver Reef did a fabulous job of keeping the food coming, finding room for everyone, and treating us all so well.

Children and families ate and made several engaging and fun “make-and-take” activities.  Due to unforeseen, but surmountable challenges, our activities were more Christmas crafts and less traditional crafts than originally planned.  However, Lummi traditional values of generosity, working together toward a common goal, valuing family, and sharing and caring were fully engaged. And believe us when we say, that making scarves with a Seattle Seahawks applique was a hit of tremendous proportions for this wonderful occasion!

In January, we held our second Family Play evening, with more Play Team members than before. The parents’ support groups were eagerly attended in the middle of the event, and we initiated a Play Team members’ support group (for the adults and teens who came without children to support the children and families) after the families went home. It was lovely to hear each person’s delight with the evening and their part in it.

Enthusiasm was high for the next one, which took place February 6th.  With over 40 participants, it was our biggest turnout yet!

The Tse’lala Parent Advocacy Group continues to meet on a weekly basis, and family engagement/community empowerment is in full swing at Lummi. These parents are committed to strengths-based, asset-oriented approaches to supporting their children’s education and educators. They introduced themselves to the tribal council in December, and at that time, the Tribal Chairman assigned two council members who are themselves parents, to attend  the Tse’lala group as part of their community participation as Council members.

Being able to interact with and involve parents more fully has been a big and joyful job! We look forward to our next Ey’ Snat Family Fun Night with Head Start on Thursday, February 12. This time we will be at the Wex Liem Community Building with a variety of traditional crafts and some songs and dances for the young ones and their families.

Tribal College Week Brings TCU Students to D.C.

The AIHEC student delegation in Washington, D.C. at the National Museum of the American Indian during the AIHEC Winter meetings.

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) winter meetings for Tribal College Presidents and Students.  Each year representatives from the 37 different tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) meet up for an advocacy workshop and Capitol Hill visits. It was amazing to see 150 representatives in one room, ready to share their TCUs’ story. The students were especially inspiring. For many of them, this was their first visit to Washington, D.C. They were excited and eager to fill the halls of House and Senate building to share the importance of their TCU with their State’s representatives.

The students had prepared their two-three minute stories, shared and practiced with their fellow students, and were encouraging and proud of one another. Because so many TCUs are isolated, many students have never met one another. It was wonderful to see them make connections with other tribal college students and share their similarities and differences! I was so impressed with the initiative students made to find these connections with one another.

It was a wonderful experience to learn not only from our students but from other Native American organizations and supporters located in Washington, D.C. It was a great reminder that we are all seeking the same thing: to empower and strengthen Native Americans and their communities. Meeting to discuss and share our successes is important to achieving our goals. I hope to see this event grow with even more students and tribal college representatives attending. It is important to have this presence in Washington D.C. and to advocate for the importance of tribal colleges and universities.

Tiffany Gusbeth, at NCAI National Congress of American Indians at the Embassy of Tribal Nations  during Tribal College Week in Washington, D.C.  Tiffany is the Internships and Career Readiness Program Administrator in the Student Success Services department at the College Fund. Learn more about the career center and services offered at http://www.collegefund.org/students_and_alumni/content/career_center


Traditional Native Arts Forms Building Capacity at TCUs

The American Indian College Fund has created a re-granting opportunity for Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) to enhance the capacity of traditional Native arts forms and knowledge for the thirteen (TCUs) in the upper-Midwest states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota. The goal of the project is for TCUs to enhance and build the capacity of traditional Native art forms and knowledge through the development of NEW academic classes and community extension activities involving traditional Native arts.

The first quarterly grant awards were awarded in July 2014 and awarded grantees developed and implemented academic courses and community extension activities. The following schools were awarded for the July to September 2014 grant period.

Cankdeska Cikana Community College

Cankdeska Cikana Community College has a strong desire to strengthen their Dakota Studies Programs by expanding the Fine Arts and Graphic Design curriculum to include more emphasis and expertise in preserving traditional Native arts. To create and preserve new traditional Native art forms, they hosted two-day summer camps for over 40 students (kindergarten through third grade). Students had the opportunity to learn about the history, knowledge and skills of parfleche. Parfleche is a type of container made from buffalo rawhide that Plains people fashioned into containers and decorated with brightly colored geometrical designs.


College of Menominee Nation

College of Menominee Nation has created a new traditional Native arts community extension and community activity through the recruitment of a traditional Menominee artisan. In the workshop, College of Menominee Nation students and community members learned the process of black ash basket making. A local artisan was chosen to conduct the workshop, a Menominee Tribal member, who is one of the two remaining tribal members that know the traditional way to create black ash baskets from identifying the three to weaving the basket. Through this project many generations (ages 11 to 65) were able to learn the history and skills of black ash basketry.

Fort Berthold Community College

Fort Berthold Community College has created a traditional Native arts workshop, based on the traditional arts of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA) people. Fort Berthold Community College’s Native American studies worked with the science department to host a summer science/culture camp and during that time students were taught the traditional Native art of moccasin making. Students learned the difference between baby moccasins and adult moccasins. In addition, they were taught how to bead moccasins. Due to the popular nature of the course, additional workshops were held so community members could participate, participants came from all six districts of the reservation. The chosen master artist explained why each traditional craft is important and enraged participants to share what they have learned from their families and friends.

Sisseton Wahpeton College

Sisseton Wahpeton College has begun implementing their Traditional Dakota Arts Workshop series that is open to students and community members. For their first workshop they conducted a traditional Dakota pottery workshop that was held over a course of a weekend. It was free and open to the public and Sisseton Wahpeton College students who participated had the opportunity to gain college credit.

A cultural expert was incorporated into helping lead the program and she provided both cultural guidance on the planning and implementation of the workshop, as well as incorporating Dakota language and culture into the workshop. Erin Griffin, Dakota Studies Instructor and Project Coordinator, says that, “Having the support and advising of cultural and language experts is key when trying to restore Traditional Native Arts in a tribal community. It is important that we recognize that we have lost traditional knowledge and that we ask for help in re-incorporate that back into our activities.”


Sitting Bull College

Sitting Bull College surveyed eight district communities on the Sitting Bull reservation to determine the wants and needs of the people. In addition, master artists were sought to instruct the traditional arts workshops for the July to September 2014 grant period. Through the outcome of the survey it helped to determine which workshops would be held. How to Bead, How to Quill and Tribal Herbal Preparation-Foods and Medicines were hosted and led by three different master artists. Each workshop had a range of ages represented and this helped each participant because they learned from one another and the participants were willing to help one another learn the skills.


The Restoration and Preservation of Traditional Native Art Forms and Knowledge grant is a three-year grant project. Applications for the quarterly grant program are accepted and reviewed every quarter of each year. Applications for the April to June 2015 quarterly grant period will be available February 23, 2015 and TCUs in the upper-Midwest are encouraged to apply.

 For further information on the Restoration and Preservation of Traditional Native Art Forms and Knowledge grant please contact Bridget Skenadore, Native Arts Coordinator, at bskenadore@collegefund.org or (720)214-2552.



One the Road Again: Montana Tribal College Fair

We are on the road again in Montana for the 2015 Montana Tribal College Career Fair Circuit on Feb. 2-10. Montana has the most Tribal College and Universities (TCUs) and TCU students than any other state and we are excited to join this event for the fifth year.  The TCUs provide affordable, accessible higher education for college courses, career training, and more for students living near or on the reservations these tribal institutions serve.

The College Fund attends career fairs to recruit students to get a higher education and let them know there is financial assistance available. For this circuit we will join in with colleges, universities, military branches, agencies, and many career options and a chance to win scholarships and prizes!

The Montana Post Secondary Educational Opportunities Council (MPSEOC) and the Montana Tribal Colleges will host six events in Montana starting February 2, 2015 (see schedule here). It is the goal of MPSEOC to serve hundreds of college students, high school students, nontraditional students, families, guidance counselors, and community members with this event.  Everyone is invited to attend for free!

Please com by and visit our booth to learn more about the opportunities available by our student success services department.


Another highlight of the college fairs is the Scholarship Program and Door Prizes.  Each fair will have $500 in scholarship money to be given away and many great door prizes for those attendees of each fair.  The scholarships and prizes are awarded by a random drawing from the names of people who attend these Tribal College Fairs.  Therefore, by just attending a fair, students can walk away with money to put toward their education. See you next week  in Montana!

Scholar Seeks Engineering Degree to Contribute to Community Needs

Charmayne (Navajo), a Navajo Technical University student studying Building Information Modeling and Walmart Foundation Scholarship recipient through the American Indian College Fund, has the goal of earning an engineering degree firmly in her sights. A job with the Office of Environmental Health & Engineering Department as an Engineering Assistant, which has given her the opportunity to work and attend college, has given her “the gift of defining the purpose of my life.”

Charmayne is assisting Field Engineers and Engineering Technicians in general surveying and surveying potential construction projects within Eastern Navajo Agency.  She says this has inspired her to continue her education in the field. “I am preparing drawing and sketches in the field for individual homes from rough drawings and sketches and drafts for project summaries and construction plans that are reviewed by higher-level technicians.  I interpret for the non-Indian staff and with individuals who do not understand English. I believe that with the knowledge and skills I have attained and through continuing my education, I will be able to contribute more to my Navajo communities.”

Charmayne attended the annual American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) National Conference in Orlando, Florida in November, thanks to the Walmart Foundation and the American Indian College Fund. It was her first trip on an airplane, and she says, “I didn’t know what to expert from the plane ride so I just sat back and let the plane fly.” And fly she did…

In Florida, Charmayne set her sights to the sky, attending many pre-college sessions, and preparing her mentally for the intellectual demands of college. She also attended sessions on interviewing, internships, and jobs, and has already begun applying for new challenges to give her more experience in the field. Charmayne says the conference confirmed her desire to be an engineer, and aligned her goals with those of the conference—to develop her knowledge and skills so that she will be a professional leader in the STEM field.

Charmayne said the program helped her realize how important it is get her degree, to continue working hard towards that goal, and to never give up on her dream. She added it was important for her and other American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians to attend to instill self-confidence so they can follow their dreams, while also inspiring others to follow their own and helping them believe they can achieve.