Tag: College Horizons

New grant grows, extends Lawrence partnership with College Horizons

Students participate in a classroom discussion during last year's College Horizons program at Lawrence.
College Horizons has been partnering with Lawrence University to help prepare indigenous students for the college journey.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University is strengthening its partnership with College Horizons, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for college-bound Native American students.

A newly awarded three-year, $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will extend the College Horizons Scholars Program through 2022.

College Horizons, the lead on the project, is a New Mexico-based college access organization that works with Native American students on college readiness. It aims to close the gap between Native and non-Native achievement in higher education. Only about one in 20 Native students will attend a four-year college or university, and once in college, only about a third of those students will earn a degree within six years, according to the organization.

For the past three years, Lawrence has hosted College Horizons’ pilot Scholars Program, a three-week summer academy for Native students in advance of their freshman year in college. Students with college destinations across the country gathered on the Lawrence campus to learn about transitioning to college and practice research and writing skills. It was funded by a $650,000 Mellon Foundation grant that expired at the end of 2019.

The new grant will allow the program to extend, expand and evolve. Instead of meeting only once for three weeks prior to their freshman year, the Native students will now be part of a Scholars Pathway that will continue through all four years of college. Beginning this summer, the participating students will meet annually for a one-week academy. The meet-ups prior to their freshman and sophomore years will be at Lawrence. Those before their junior and senior years will be at the University of Michigan.

“This model allows us to better meet student needs at each appropriate step in their academic journey and allows them to stay in frequent personal contact with their cohorts, which increases resilience,” Catherine G. Kodat, Lawrence’s provost and dean of faculty, said in the grant application.

The Scholars Program is one of three administered by College Horizons. Lawrence has also hosted Graduate Horizons, a four-day program offering graduate school admissions workshops. One of about 50 colleges that work with College Horizons, Lawrence forged its initial partnership shortly after the organization’s 1998 founding.

Kodat noted that among the lessons learned during the first three years of the program was that it was difficult for the participating students to dedicate three weeks of their summer to the program, and then the time lapse between their initial visit and the Graduate Horizons program was too great, exposing students to attrition risks.

The expanded and renamed Scholars Pathway Program offers more continuity, most notably consistent mentoring through the college years.

“College Horizons is excited for the three-year grant renewal with the Mellon Foundation and the continued partnership with Lawrence University,” said Mikaela Crank, director of the Scholars Program. “We are looking forward to our new cohorts of Scholars and implementing a more robust and contiguous four-year Scholars Pathway Program that will include annual in-person activities.

“Our goal is to better meet our students’ mentoring, academic, socio-emotional, pre-graduate advising and research needs. We are applying a holistic and Indigenous approach to support our Scholars success by helping them graduate from college and apply to graduate school.”

Lawrence will serve as the fiscal agent for the grant and will partner with the University of Michigan in hosting the program.

Last summer, 21 new high school graduates representing six Indigenous communities took part in the program at Lawrence.

“It is an honor and privilege to extend our fruitful partnership with College Horizons through this program,” President Mark Burstein said in a letter to the Mellon Foundation. “Our missions strongly align through increasing college access and attainment among historically underserved groups. The pilot program has raised our awareness of the particular challenges facing Native American students, and I trust the renewal will continue to increase our capacity to serve them better.”

Ed Berthiaume if director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

College Horizons Scholars Program offers Native students a bridge to college success

Scholars Program students take part in a classroom discussion in Briggs Hall.
College-bound students in the Scholars Program, part of College Horizons, take part in a classroom session Thursday in Briggs Hall at Lawrence University. The three-week program ends this week.

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

Twenty-one new high school graduates representing six Native American groups have been visiting Lawrence University this month as part of the College Horizons Scholars Program, a three-week summer academy that encourages the students’ healthy transition into college.

The Scholars Program is one of three administered by College Horizons, a New Mexico-based college-access nonprofit that advocates for the success of Native American students in higher education by teaching college readiness. Its staple program is College Horizons, a summer program of pre-college workshops for sophomores and juniors.

The Scholars Program, meanwhile, is for those College Horizons graduates who are preparing for college this fall. It’s been hosted by Lawrence each of the past three summers.

In addition to the students from the Scholars Program, Lawrence also hosted Graduate Horizons, a four-day program offering graduate school admissions workshops for Native college students.

Lawrence is one of about 50 colleges that partner with College Horizons. The partnership, established shortly after the organization’s 1998 founding, was a step toward increased campus diversity and in support of academic excellence in higher learning institutions.

In 2015, the Mellon Foundation awarded Lawrence a three-year grant of $650,000 to support the partnership with College Horizons. The foundation promotes the arts, humanities and culture in higher education.

Lawrence has hosted the Scholars Program every summer since the program’s 2017 debut. While most of the participating students won’t be attending Lawrence, having the program on campus helps strengthen the partnership with College Horizons.

“It was an easy fit because of our history and the attractions to Lawrence,” says Mikaela Crank, director of the Scholars Program. “Small liberal arts campus, easy to navigate … it basically has the sense of community that we do here.”

The link between Lawrence and the Scholars Program is more in-depth than just the partnership; the three-week itinerary of the Scholars Program is modeled after Lawrence’s Freshman Studies. For five days a week, students attend writing seminars and lectures led by Lawrence faculty members Brigetta Miller, Julie Haurykiewicz and Kate Zoromski. The Scholars Program has “indigenized” the model by adding a cultural transitions course, taught by Crank, which gives students the “cultural capital tools” to navigate a campus and utilize its resources.

College Horizons’ emphasized attention to the students’ well-being on campus is a key to the program’s success. The Scholars Program sets itself apart from other summer bridge programs because, Crank says, they take a holistic approach to the students’ adjustment to the institution, in order to empower their indigenous identities in an academic setting.

“We don’t want to graduate broken students,” she says. “We want to graduate students who are whole and healthy and who are not broken down by the university. So, we are really taking well-being into account.”

For the Scholars Program, Crank brings in speakers to address mental health stigmas and physical wellness, organizes meditation workshops at the Center for Spiritual and Religious Life, and holds financial aid workshops with the Admissions office, all with the goal of empowering students to be successful and resilient when they head to their respective colleges in the fall.

The results are moving. Hawaii native Sienna De Sa, who is on campus with the Scholars Program, said she remembers when Carmen Lopez, executive director of College Horizons, spoke at her high school. The program’s values struck a chord with her, and she felt she needed help applying for colleges. Her experience in the high school program motivated her to apply for the Scholars Program as a senior. She has since committed to the University of Hawaii Hilo and has found more than just academic prosperity.

“I’ve learned that I am strong and resilient,” says De Sa. “That I have the power to be indigenous, educated, and I do not have to be afraid to do so. College Horizons has also given me this amazing support system that I know I can rely on in the future.”

De Sa is far from the only student to blaze her trail with help from College Horizons. The organization’s data shows that 99 percent of College Horizons students have been accepted into college and 85 percent have graduated college in four or five years.

The Scholars Program students are set to leave campus this weekend after their three-week stay, but the College Horizons partnership with Lawrence will continue. Lawrence’s grant has just been approved for another three years.

In its 21st year, College Horizons continues to aim high — more innovative programming, brilliant scholars and host universities building bridges to the future.

Isabella Mariani ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.

Opening Higher Education Doors: Lawrence Hosts Pre-College Workshop for Native Americans

Lawrence University welcomes 73 Native American high school students to campus June 26-30 for a five-day, pre-college workshop coordinated by College Horizons, a New Mexico-based non-profit organization.

Lawrence is one of three host institutions in the country for the 2010 workshop. The University of Hawaii hosted a similar program last week while the University of Puget Sound will conduct a similar program at the same time as Lawrence.

College-Horizons_webNative American students from as far away as Plantation, Fla., and Battle Ground, Wash., representing 24 states and 38 tribes, will participate in an “academic crash course” designed to assist them in the college search process.

As part of the 13th annual program, a bevy of college and high school counselors, admission officers, essay specialists and other educators will be on hand to work individually with students and lead small group sessions on topics ranging from “Overview of the ACT/SAT,” “Financial Aid & Scholarships: How Can I Afford College?” and “Native Students and College.”

The goal of the workshop is to assist Native American students in developing a list of appropriate colleges to consider, prepare a winning application, write a memorable essay, maximize their ACT or SAT scores and navigate the financial aid/scholarship maze. At the end of the program, students leave with a completed college application and a list of colleges with which they are likely to be good matches.

This is the second time in three years the program has been hosted by Lawrence.

“I think College Horizons accepted our bid to host again this soon because they had such a great experience two years ago when they were here and they wanted to come back now that the Warch Campus Center is more than a construction site,” said Steve Syverson, vice president for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid. “This program gives Lawrence some great exposure to Native American students and we’re delighted that this year we will have three College Horizons graduates in our student body.”

In addition to admissions personnel from Lawrence, representatives from more than 30 colleges and universities, including Brown, Harvard Princeton, Stanford and Yale will be available to assist the students. Following Native American tradition, an Elder from the Menominee Nation in Wisconsin will be present through the duration of the workshop. Several prominent educators from the College of Menominee Nation will be participating as well.

Since its inception, more than 1,550 students have attended College Horizons and the results have been nothing short of spectacular. Ninety-nine percent of the participants of the program have gone on to post-secondary education, including 95 percent of them to four-year colleges, with 85 percent earning their bachelors degree within five years of starting college.

Syverson noted Lawrence’s participation in the College Horizons program harkens back to the college’s founding.

“In establishing Lawrence University in 1847, Amos Lawrence stated that he wanted to provide ‘gratuitous advantage to the Indians and Germans of both sexes,’ so our involvement with College Horizons affirms part of our original mission,” said Syverson.