ASU to visit Navajo schools during spring break

NAVAJO NATION - Two teams of students and staff from ASU were scheduled to visit 19 schools on and around the Navajo Nation from March 9-15 during Arizona State University's (ASU) spring break. ASU representatives, many of whom grew up in the Navajo Nation, plan to meet with more than 1,000 students, counselors, teachers and community members.

The staff and students have agreed to devote their spring break from classes to spread the word and encourage Native youth to pursue higher education goals. The group as a whole knows personally of the life-changing impact higher education has, not only for the individual student but also their families and their communities. Educated individuals become community leaders.

The ASU American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) Tour is unique in the fact that it is all student-run. Eight current AISES students will travel the reservation. They have been doing this for the past five years and have always received positive feedback. They have positively impacted the lives of many of our Native youth. They emphasize the college application process, college readiness, being successful in college and encouraging all students to go to college. Their presentation is dynamic and their enthusiasm is unmatched as they speak about their passion of education and making a contribution to their people.

This group will visit high schools on and around the Navajo Nation, including Flagstaff, Hopi, Tuba City, Monument Valley, Shonto, Red Mesa, Newcomb, Crownpoint, Gallup, Holbrook and Coconino. A visit to Navajo Technical College is also planned.

The ASU Admissions Tour, a separate group, will also bring a student panel for the first time. Many of these students grew up in Native communities. Featured speaker is Peterson Zah, a lifelong promoter of higher education who has been a key leader in bringing Native American students from tribal communities to ASU and helping them succeed.

This group will talk about financial aid, especially the ASU Advantage program for low-income families, and also the admissions process. They also will discuss all the student support programs available for Native students at ASU, summer enrichment programs, majors and teacher preparation programs. They will visit the following high schools: Ganado, Chinle, Navajo Pine, Window Rock, Ft. Wingate, Crownpoint, Tohatchi, Shiprock and Navajo Prep. Many Farms and Rough Rock students will be bussed to Chinle.

ASU's Native American population has nearly doubled to 1,370, up from 698 14 years ago, and more Native students than ever are graduating. The graduating class in December was the largest fall class ever at 93, with eight of these receiving master's degrees and two earning doctorates. Another 223 students graduated in the 2006-2007 academic year, an ASU record.

"We have collaborated with many ASU departments to ensure a program that is meaningful and insightful to the residents of the Navajo Nation," says Jennifer White, regional coordinator for ASU admissions. "We want to acknowledge the Navajo Nation Office of Youth Development Office out of Chinle for their support for the student panel and for their dedication to the youth of the Nation.

"ASU stands on its commitment for academic excellence, accessibility and impact. We want to make an impact and give back to our home communities, tell them about the academic excellence found at ASU and impress upon the youth that education is accessible to them," she added.

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