We invite you to listen to the voices of our students, as they reflect on their 2013 College Horizons experience:
College Horizons was a life-changing experience in every sense of the phrase. I never, ever would have thought that a college prep course would take me on an intellectual and emotional journey. In not even a week, I have laughed, I have cried, I have loved, and I have started to realize, truly, who I am, and the person I identify myself as.... I am a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and despite the color of my skin, despite the preconceived notions that others have about me, I am a Native American, and there isn't a thing in the world that can take that away from me.
Clark Ryburn, Choctaw, CH 2013 NYU Alum
This experience has helped me open my mind. I don't have to go to an in state college, I don't have to worry about financial aid, and I won't be surprised of college requirements, when it is too late my senior year. A big burden has lifted from my shoulders as I worry about doing this whole process by myself.
Felisha Orsborn, Yupik, CH 2013 NYU Alum
The session gave me new perspectives on the power I have and the things that I can do to help myself and my people in the process… I realized that I have been given divine blessings from ke akua and Princess Pauahi for the specific purpose of furthering my education and breaking the stereotypes that are often times pinned to native peoples. Upon this session, I believe that I am a stronger native person, who acknowledges the fact that it is okay to have fears, as long as there is a plan to overcome such fears with a personal pride that comes with being an original people.
Taylor Williams, Native Hawaiian, CH 2013 HPA Alum
Many natives are mislead to think with a closed mind that universities and colleges kill culture, change children, and are only for rich, snobby people. College Horizons breaks those barriers and lets the flood into the dry valley below.
Quintin Crank, Diné (Navajo), CH 2013 NYU Alum
At its heart, the college search is a soul search;
when it’s done right, a student comes to important conclusions about who they are, where they have been and where they want to go. On the face of our program, students visita college campus, live in dorms for one week, churn out drafts of their college essay and are challenged on a daily basis to weigh and study their college options. But deep inside, important realizations are being made. No matter where they come from – as Native students, as first-generation or low-income students, coming from reservations, islands, or urban city centers, our youth realize that they have the strength to not only navigate this transition, but to thrive in it. When it is done right, this process is transformative. It is medicine.
We tell our students the truth about college - what it can be like to be a Native student in a predominantly non-Native institution and how difficult it can be to be away from home. But we also coach them on the good – the vast advantages of acquiring a college education, what types of knowledge are available and where to go for support - academically, financially and personally, in order to thrive and graduate. Most importantly, it’s about emphasizing the cultural strengths and resiliency we share as Native peoples and using that connection to homeland and community to fuel their way through college and beyond.
At our program we emphasize the idea of Nation Building. We must empower our communities by investing in our youth. We will ultimately benefit from that expertise when our students graduate and come back. The students we select to come to our programs already express a deep desire to deliver service to their communities. It’s our job to set our young ones up with a road map, to and through college, to return with the much needed skills and expertise to advance our communities. We are not just preparing our students to become educators, doctors, lawyers, dentists or leaders or how to get into the “best” school - we are making sure that these students understand their role as citizens of their Native Nations and communities in that process.
Our program has evolved over time to become the most successful avenue for Native students to explore, apply and succeed in college programs.
Today, 99% of the students we graduate from College Horizons are enrolling in college programs. 85% of College Horizons alumni graduate from college in 4-5 years - well above the national average for Native students AND for any national demographic; Nation-wide, only 52% of Native students directly enroll in college. Just 39% of those graduate from college in 6 years. By comparison, 74% White students directly enroll and 62% graduate in 6 years. (Source: The State of Education for Native Students, Education Trust, August 2013.) By all measures, our programs are a huge success.
To date, our programs have helped over 2,500 students explore their pathway through higher education. This year, we served 197 students from more than fifty tribal nations and over 23 states. We dispensed over $40,000 in financial aid to make our programs affordable for our students and families. But we can’t end our vision there. We know that out of the 325,000 Native high school students out there, we are only serving a small slice. Imagine if we could build upon our success and create pivotal and affordable programs to serve students in 7/8th grade with their transition to high school. Prep programs for 9th/10th graders on academic planning, study skills, and test preparation. Or programs for Parents to help with tax preparation, financial planning, college savings, and completing the FAFSA. With your continued support this will not only be possible but inevitable.
Help us advance our work.
These students are more than just students to us; they are the future community, intellectual, health and business leaders for our nations and will set a new tone for generations to come. These young leaders are our medicine. Together, we can build more support and better programming for our children to ensure their success while helping them maintain the connection to where they come from. We can create a network of future Native leaders who will bring real and lasting change to our communities. Thinkers that will not only shape Indian Country but bring their cultural knowledge and worldviews to bear upon the problems of the world. If we tackle these issues as a community and build the support to do it, we will all see the benefits for generations to come.
Finally, if we are asking for our students to be Nation Builders, we must set the example. As we launch our 2013-2014 Annual Fundraising Campaign, we humbly ask that you help us in any way you can – donate what you can, pledge a monthly amount - then ask friends or relatives if they can donate or convince your tribal business council to sponsor our programs. We truly need your support if we hope to continue offering these transformative experiences for our students.
College Horizons is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, therefore your donations are tax-deductible.
For more information about our programs and the students we serve, please follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
Many thanks in advance for your support!