Spreading the word about college aid

Hopi High academic advisor hopes to make application process easier

Photo by Stan Bindell
Dushon Monongye, head academic counselor at Hopi High School, spreads the word about financial aid available to college students.

Photo by Stan Bindell Dushon Monongye, head academic counselor at Hopi High School, spreads the word about financial aid available to college students.

POLACCA -- Fourteen families showed up for College Goal Sunday on Feb. 12 at Hopi High School as they learned how to help their children with college.

Dushon Monongye, head academic counselor at Hopi High School, showed the parents how to fill in the cumbersome financial aide forms. Sonya Banyaca from Northland Pioneer College and Sarah Gjere from Northern Arizona University were also on hand to answer questions.

Parents were able to use the school's computers to fill in the financial aid forms and then e-mail them in. Doug Winterbauer, the computer tech at Hopi High School, was present to assist the parents.

Monongye said the parents appreciated the help because it makes the process easier for them.

"We have a lot of first generation students going to college so this is the first time they are filling in the applications," she said. "It's important that we provide computer access because it's hard to find elsewhere in the community."

Monongye said she advises students and parents to visit the college campus that the students plan to attend. She added that if the students are unsure about attending college that their parents should sit down with them to see what they have planned. She added that students can meet with her or representatives of the Hopi Tribe's adult vocation or grants and scholarship office.

"There are a lot of resources out there," she said.

Monongye said students should read the daily bulletin because it tells them what scholarships are available and when representatives from different colleges are visiting the high school.

"If students have questions they should go to somebody and ask. They shouldn't keep it within because there are no stupid questions," she said.

Monongye said most of the seniors have decided what they want to do after graduation. She meets with each senior to ask them about their plans and how they are proceeding.

Monongye said many students assume they can't afford college because of the expenses involved, but she emphasized there are a lot of grants and scholarships available. She urged parents to let their children know that they support their efforts to go to college.

"Students have to take the initiative, but they shouldn't feel alone because we're here to help," she said.

Monongye said their family is the best backbone for students who want to go to college, but she added there are other resources, including the tribe and her, to assist the students.

"But the students need to be the first one to reach out," she said.

Monongye, a graduate of Hopi High School, is a first generation college graduate.

(Stan Bindell, former Observer editor, is journalism and radio teacher at Hopi High School.)

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