College pride, Native pride: Indigenous students and college (book)
My current book manuscript, College Pride, Native Pride follows the journey of College Horizons, a precollege access program for Native students. CH was founded in 1998 by Dr. Whitney Laughlin, a non-Native college counselor with a long history of working with students from minority and low-income backgrounds, and since 2011 is under the leadership of Executive Director Carmen Lopez, a Navajo educator. The program is billed as a “crash course” in applying to college, and after one short but jam-packed week, students emerge with a completed common application, a list of ten schools that are good matches for their abilities and interests, a polished college essay, a resume, a completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and a newfound sense of confidence, identity, and community. Aspects of Native identities and cultures are imbued in every part of the program, such as hosting a “resident elder” from the local community, opening and closing prayers, a “traditional night” which allows students to share their talents, and ongoing, explicit conversations about citizenship and identity. With the success of the original program, CH has also expanded to include “Graduate Horizons” for graduate school applicants, and now CH Scholars, a three-week summer bridge program for alumni of the program who are about to start college.
The Native students from College Horizons are succeeding by traditional measures, and this book is guided by the following question: How does CH offer a novel way of looking at higher education for Native students in the US. College Horizons draws upon community-based strengths, but also provides the “western” knowledge students will need in order to be successful college applicants—a duality embodied in the CH motto of “College Pride, Native Pride .”
The book moves through four levels of College Horizons—the programmatic structure of the original week long “crash course,” which illuminates the values and foundations of CH, an examination of the faculty members of the program and the ways their relationships to CH are creating institutional change far beyond the program itself, portraits of four students who make up the program, tracing their trajectories from their first year to three years post-graduation, with data about the student outcomes overall, and finally an examination of the newest arm of College Horizons, CH Scholars, the summer bridge program providing wrap around support through the first year. Taken together, these four chapters represent the ways Indigenous relationships wind through all aspects of the program, and provide the means for new understandings of Native students in the college process.
Manuscript will be submitted for publication May 2019, final publication date TBD.