Pathways to Success Program from CAIED and NASS

Posted: Monday, August 3rd 2015 at 10:11 AM

The FCB’s Center for American Indian Economic Development (CAIED), in collaboration with Native American Student Services (NASS) at NAU, recently brought a group of Native American high school students on a tour of campus to learn about the many opportunities available to them at NAU. Titled "NAU Pathways to Success," this 3-day college recruitment program provided students with an overview of university resources, information on business and hospitality careers, participation in the 7G MM money management game, and fun off-campus activities. 

Students came from Hopi Junior Senior High School (HJSHS), Fountain Hills High School, Winslow High School, and more.

“We started [to market the program] early by contacting Dushon Monongye, [counselor at HJSHS], and she encouraged students to apply to the program,” said Sharon Doctor, NASS assistant director.

Further advertisement through the NASS Facebook page brought interest from all over the state and even as far as New Mexico, where two students from an Albuquerque high school applied.

“The parents of these students said, ‘This would be good for my son or daughter, what do we need to do?’ So we would send them the application packet,” Doctor said.

Thirteen students arrived at NAU on Wednesday, July 8, 2015, using Gabaldon Hall as their homebase were they met two NAU students who were their mentors for the program. Activities through their stay included touring campus, experiencing NAU's Challenge Course, visiting Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, and a movie night at Harkins Theaters.

On Thursday, representatives from FCB and SHRM gave the students presentations about how a business or hospitality degree could help kickstart their career.

Dr. Wanda Costen, SHRM’s executive director, and Kelli Westerdahl, industry and alumni liaison, shared some information about the success of SHRM’s graduates and the opportunities available in the hospitality industry.

“Sixty-eight percent of our students who walked at graduation in May had jobs,” Westerdahl told them.

Dr. Costen said, “The skills we’re teaching [in the FCB and SHRM]– communication, leadership, problem solving, critical thinking– these will make you successful wherever you go.”

FCB staff discussed the options of majoring or minoring in one of the six business degrees. Wendy Tappan, program coordinator for the Career Development Office (CDO), and Chris Drake, coordinator for the Office of Academic Services (OAS), went over each of the degree plans and explained possible careers available within the fields.

The presentations ended with a panel of FCB alumni and current students describing how they were able to balance school responsibilities with their cultural responsibilities. The panel participants were Karletta Jones, senior internal auditor for NAU; FCB alumna Kiara Weathersby (‘15); Rendell Guy, senior CIS major; and Collen Dineyazhe, senior accountancy and marketing major. After their session, the panelists went to lunch with the high school students to answer any further questions they might have.

“They took interest in how to develop their skills as a high school student to make the transition to college and university life easier,” Dineyazhe said.

Their final day consisted of a presentation from NAU Undergraduate Admissions and then learning money management skills by playing the 7G MM game.

“Some of them did indicate that they would like to come to NAU for college and a few of them said that they were interested in a business major or an HRM major,” Doctor said.

One of the goals within NAU is to increase the number of Native American graduates. Although the SHRM and FCB have one of the top-ranked programs in the country for Native American students, it’s still low compared to Flagstaff’s demographics.

“I would have enjoyed being in a program like this when I was in high school because it helped the students get out of their comfort zone, which many Indian reservation students have trouble with,” Dineyazhe said. “I was excited to be a part of the program and share my experiences with the students.”

This first run was a successful start to what will likely be a strong program in future years.

Categories: center for american indian economic development caied nass native american student services nizhoni academy pathways to success students summer 2015 sharon doctor 7gmm dr. wanda costen kelli westerdahl wendy tappan chris drake alumni karletta jones kiara weathersby redell guy collen dineyazhe shrm