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Native Nerds | Our Organization's News Blog

  • College Horizons on Common App Essay Prompts

    From yesterday's Common Application announcement:

    "Carmen Lopez, Executive Director of College Horizons, a non-profit dedicated to college success of Native American and Native Hawaiian students, believes this is especially true for students served by her program. "As a community-based organization that services underrepresented students, College Horizons has found the Common App's new essay prompts to be highly effective. Students are presenting themselves as multi-dimensional, writing with an authentic voice, and writing meaningfully as both students and Native students."'

    The quote comes from yesterday's Common Application press release regarding a decision to retain the current essay prompts found on the 2013-2014 version of the college application form for 2014-2015.  The Common Application is a non-profit organization that provides a consolidated application for students and educators to use when applying to any of the organization's 500+ member colleges. The vast majority of institutions that College Horizons currently partners with use the Common Application in their undergraduate admissions.  College Horizons also utilizes the Common App as a curriculum tool when preparing high school students for the college admissions process.  

    The essay prompts are provided below:

    • Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
    • Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
    • Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea.What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
    • Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
    • Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.
  • A Brief Summer Recap

    College Horizons was successfully held at two different campuses this past June and July: Hawaii Prep Academy in Kamuela, Hawaii and at New York University in Manhattan, New York.  We are happy to report that every single one of the 197 students we admitted to the program made it to the programs safely, worked hard to complete our curriculum expectations throughout the week and then made it back home in one piece.  A combination of amazing students, dedicated faculty and accommodating host institutions made both programs some of the best we have ever put on.  And even though we strive to deliver the same rigorous curriculum at all of our programs, no two programs are ever the same.  This year, it was particularly exciting for us to see just how similar and different both of our programs on completely opposite sides of the country and in different communities would play out. Read on for a few key highlights from each of our programs:

    Hawaii Prep Academy (June 16-21)

    As we stepped off the plane in Kona, the CH Staff were greeted by our gracious host and site coordinator, Joanie Brotman. The humid air, the open air design of the airport and the leis we received upon arrival all signaled to us that this was going to be a very different program than ones we usually host on the mainland.

    The Big Island - this is the first thing we saw!

    Joanie Brotman greets us at the airport with leis

    It was exciting for us since this is only the second program College Horizons has been able to host in Hawaii so far - our first program was held in 2010 at University of Hawaii at Hilo.  Below are some highlights from the program:

    • Approximately 90% of students who attended were Native Hawaiian; 10% of students were Native American or Alaska Native from the mainland
    • 47 students local to the area attended the program from the Big Island - a record for College Horizons!
    • The local college fair was a huge success - over 300 families joined us to meet with our college partners at the public portion of our college fair
    • On the last day of the program, students and faculty climbed to the top of a nearby Pu'u (a small mountain/butte) to reflect.  It was a powerful way to culminate our program, guided by Aunty Pua Case
    • The CH Staff used the Hawaii Prep Academy college counseling office throughout the week as our base of operations - a huge thank you to all the HPA staff who helped us make this program possible!

    Students and faculty circle up on the soccer field to participate in ice breakers

    New York University (July 7-12)

    The view from our dorm rooms at NYU

    Like the Big Island, New York City was also a new and fun experience for College Horizons.  As Frank Sinatra said, "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere!" After hosting a program in the Big Apple, we are confident that we would be capable of hosting a successful program anywhere in the country.  Some key highlights from the program include:

    • This was the largest gathering of Native students held at NYU in recent memory, if not ever!
    • This was the first time in New York City for 79 of students attending the program
    • Students at the program represented 49 tribal nations from 22 states 
    • All 100 of our students hopped on the subway with faculty chaperones to attend a Broadway show and then walked over to Times Square to experience quintessential New York.  (No one got lost!)
    • This was the first time flying for 24 of our students and 53 students had never stayed overnight on a college campus before
    • NYU and the admissions office were terrific hosts - the dorms and meeting spaces we occupied during the week really made us feel at home while being in the heart of America's largest city

    Students take to the subway before our broadway show!

    By the end of our program our students seemed at home on the streets of NY

    For more pictures, highlights and a play-by-play rundown from our programs check out our facebook page and twitter feed!

  • We're Hosting Two College Fairs This Summer!

    For the second consecutive year, we are proud to announce that we will be holding free college fairs open to the public at both of our College Horizons host sites - first at Hawaii Prep Academy (HPA) in Kamuela, HI on June 20, 2013 and at New York University (NYU) in New York, NY on July 11, 2013.  Each fair features our partner institutions as well as schools coming exclusively for the fair.  See below for copies of the flyers.  Please help spread the word to families, educators and students who will be present in the area.


    Students, families and educators who attend the fair will have the opportunity to speak directly with college admission representatives from each of the schools on the flyer.  To download the flyers as PDFs, click on the following links: HPA College Fair Flyer & NYU College Fair Flyer.


    A huge thanks and shout out to our generous sponsors and hosts for helping provide this unique opportunity: Hawaii Prep Academy, New York University, University of Southern California, University of Rochester and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.  For a brief description of each school represented at the college fairs, please visit our Colleges page.

    College Fair in Kamuela, Hawaii

    College Fair in New York City

  • CH Recognized at 2013 Forging Hope Event!

    Big news!  Yesterday, members of the CH staff and board were present in San Bernadino, California to receive the 2013 Yawa Award from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.  It is a tremendous honor for us to have our work recognized and supported by a tribal nation.  A big thank you to all of our supporters and especially to the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians for this recognition.  Yawa' is a Serrano word and is described by the following concept: "To the Yuhaviatam, the People of the Pines, Yawa', is a simple word that describes a complex concept.  A smile, a hearty handshake, a kind word, these are but the building blocks from which Yawa' springs forth.  Yawa' also comes from the heart, from actions and intentions... Yawa' is a call to manifest one's beliefs through action."  Watch a short video of the occasion below as Peter Aranda, President of the Board of Directors and Carmen Lopez, Executive Director of College Horizons are shown accepting the award.  

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